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Open Letter to Femi Adesina’s Friend -By Michael Afenfia

Dear Femi Adesina’s friend, I trust this letter meets you well. Sorry I can’t ask about your family because I do not know if you’re married or still single, but I believe I can ask about your job. So, how is that going? I’ll take a wild guess and say you’re a civil servant; your friend Femi strikes me as the kind of person who’d have lots of them as friends because he’s likely to have had a humble beginning like many of us.

If I guessed right, then I should ask you if you’ve been paid your salary for the month of July? If you haven’t, can you please ask Femi Adesina when the issue with FAC and the NNPC would be resolved? I’ve got family and friends in many states that would like to know this and they tell me it didn’t use to be so in the days of yore, well not so yore if you start your counting from 2015.

Back then, payday came like clockwork for workers in the federal, state and local government services because the monthly allocation meeting of the finance minister and commissioners didn’t experience as many deadlocks as they do now.

The same friends of mine want to know if this story making the rounds about the Minister for Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun not undergoing the compulsory National Youth Service required by law of every graduate Nigerian youth under the age of 30 is true. But you don’t have to worry your head about that issue.

When I have the time, I’d do another letter to Kemi Adeosun’s friends and hope that through them, Nigerians would get to know the truth about the copy of the NYSC Exemption Certificate making the rounds on social media, because left with the minister alone, Nigerians would blow hot for a week or two and then move on to the next certificate forgery.

I can bet my last kobo, that Ms. Adeosun is saying to herself right now, that her boss is yet to release his controversial primary school certificate to the pubic and the earth hasn’t stopped turning. She’d say that the president survived a similar scandal and surely she would too. She would keep her job right next to the President and there’s nothing Nigerians can do about it. But then, let me not be too cocky on her behalf: time will tell how that plays out. But that’s not what this letter is about so I wouldn’t digress too much.

Femi Adesina’s friend, let me come back to you. Have you noticed how Femi seems to take pleasure in talking down on Nigerians? He takes no offence in calling us names, insulting our intelligence and assaulting our humanity. Or you don’t advise him, that as spokesperson of the President, he doesn’t have to go beneath the belt every time? You should tell him that being vitriolic would make his job even tougher.

Sorry for being a bother today, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get to your friend. Do you know I once wrote him a letter? Well I did. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a reply from him. What I was hoping for was that he would change his modus operandi – less lies, more truths, less pandering to the whims of the boss and more heart. But that hasn’t happened yet and he only has a couple of months left before his time as Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity is over.

If the president is re-elected, he might get a second bite at the cherry, but until then he needs to listen to what people are saying about him and how insensitive he comes across, all in the name of doing a job. In America, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was refused service in a restaurant a few weeks ago because of the inhumane stance of the Trump administration on immigration. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if your friend was walked out of one of those fancy restaurants where he does lunch with you guys in Abuja these days.

Dear Femi’s friend, because I have friends who are able to look me in the eye and tell me when I’m wrong, I’m hoping that you are a friend like that. I am hoping also that where I and others like me have failed, because sometimes it is hard to take advice from a stranger and understandably so, you will succeed. It’s a huge burden and responsibility to place on you, but it is one you must carry out because many of us are depending on you.

Now this is what I’d like you to do for me. The other day, your friend Femi made a very troubling statement on national television, AIT to be precise. In some parts of the world, in some other democracies, he would be tendering his apology and resigning his position for which he gets paid by the contributions of the very people he insulted. But this is Nigeria, this is Buhari’s government where no one resigns or gets fired for incompetence or insensitivity.

In case you missed it, as I am sure a whole lot of people did when the story broke last week, your friend mouthed what I believe are the thoughts of his boss on the herdsmen issue. In his words – “You only have ancestral attachment when you are alive.”

Let me paraphrase, dead men don’t own land. Let me try another paraphrase, those cows mean so much to us and if you have to give up your lands for the cows, in your own best interest do so, because we won’t protect you. Cow and man can co-exist. Shikena! I used to think that the phrase, “Sacred Cows,” was just a figure of speech, but PMB and his surrogates in the media have proven it to be more than just a topic in the English class.

In today’s Nigeria, cows are sacred – literally so. Maybe we have been inspired by Hinduism and the people from certain parts of Africa. But humans? Not so much, I’m afraid. And your friend Femi said as much. I heard it and I’m sure countless people with dead relatives and friends, all victims of these killer cattle minders, heard it too.

That is why I want you to talk to your friend Femi on behalf of these people. Pull him aside and speak to him as a friend he listens to. Tell him that it’s not so easy to give up one’s ancestral home for cows, no matter how untouchable he thinks they are, and how edible and irresistible they become in his ewedu soup and gbegiri.

If you do this one thing for me, you will not just be Femi’s friend alone, you will be mine as well.

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