By Uboho Bassey




Aso Rock. Located in the Three Arms Zone Asokoro. A sprawling estate of labyrinthine corridors and opulent chambers: a neoclassical and palladian architectural wonder. There are other names that are used for this seat of power: State House, The Rock and The Villa. It is said to be the most protected Presidential State House in Africa, a political theater; the microcosm of a nation’s hopes and dreams.

Welcome to the captivating world of Aso Rock Villa, where power, politics, and prestige converge in a mesmerizing dance of intrigue and intricate power play. Nestled amidst the lush greenery of Nigeria’s capital, this magnificent residence serves as the epicenter of political power, shrouded in a tapestry of secrets and whispered ambitions.

For Mr. Femi Adesina, a journalist of repute spanning thirty years, this is where power is both a weapon and a burden, and where the stakes are as high as the aspirations that dwell within its walls. With a mere phone call, fate leads him into the heart of Aso Rock Villa,  where he braces himself for a journey into the world of intrigue and intricate power play, where the fate of a nation hangs in the balance, and where the pursuit of power knows no bounds.

But let’s go back to the beginning.

The Uyo Book Club, on Saturday April 27th, hosted as Special Guest: Mr. Femi Adesina, former Special Adviser, Media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, at its monthly gathering at Watbridge Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

♦️The event, held in the Shakespeare Hall of the premium hotel, drew an overwhelming turnout of participants including the regular members of the book club. The special guest of honour, Obong Umana Okon Umana, was unavoidably absent but ably represented by Chief Okon Iyanam. Patron and host, Senator Ekong Sampson was also present, despite his challenging duties as a lawmaker and overseeing his constituents.

♦️ Dr. Udeme Nana, the indefatigable founder of Uyo Book Club was at his usual best, and in his welcoming remarks, set the tone for a most exhilarating and engaging evening. Mr. Adesina, who is also a Chief, and a Pastor, was accompanied by his beautiful and vibrant wife, Mrs. Adenike Taiwo, her twin sister, Mrs Ikön (yes, married in Mbioto) and other family members. Dr Nana used the occasion to announce that he has signed an agreement with an international corporate organization, Media Fuse Dentsu to support Uyo Book Club.

♦️ The roll call included Mr. Nsikak Essien, Former Editor, National Concord; Mr. Anietie Usen, Senior Special Adviser on Media to Governor Umo Eno; Dr. Martin Akpan, Mrs. Ekaette Umoh, DG Ibom Leadership Entrepreneurial Development Center,  Dr. Nestor Udoh, several indigenous authors, Members of the Book Club, journalists, students, affiliates of the media etc.

On the spotlight was the Book of the Month:  “WORKING WITH BUHARI” – REFLECTIONS OF A SPECIAL ADVISER, MEDIA AND PUBLICITY (2015 – 2023).

Time was 5:00pm as the special guest, Mr. Adesina, took centre stage in dissecting a few chapters of his book. A look outside would present a showcase of the sun casting its golden glow upon the universe, whilst those within the walls of Shakespeare Hall bore witness to the “SOFTWARE” of governance and unravelling the myth behind the personae of a man, President Muhammadu Buhari; viewed as aloof, rigid, and with a certain bias for a particular religion.

Mr. Adesina’s appointment as Special Adviser Media and Publicity, came out of the blues. It was not birthed from a clandestine symphony of lobbying, but it may have been a reward for loyalty from unfolding years of dedicated support. Mr. Femi, calls himself a “Buharist” a coinage orchestrated by the country’s most adept political minds and supporters of President Buhari.

He spoke about the opposition using the phrase “The wailing wailers,” – a relentless interference from “a Babel of voices” who made his job most difficult at a time. Behind the grand facade of his enviable position, Mr. Adesina hinted that his take home pay was nothing to be celebrated. Portraying a partner who discusses issues with his wife, they both debated on the demerits and merits of the pay and decided it didn’t matter. Femi Adesina had disclosed that he was better remunerated as the Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers than his pay package in Aso Rock.

Mr. Adesina emphasized that he has no regrets managing “Brand Buhari.” He got to travel to over One hundred and three countries in the duration of the regime, and has built tremendous goodwill. And of course, there’s this book. With the Foreword written by President Buhari himself. On the day of the book launch, the revered General was present. Mr. Adesina is the only person that has been able to lure President Buhari out of Daura, into Abuja, after May 29th, 2023. He did that with the launch of this book. He has learned that alliances are forged and shattered, and fortunes rise and fall with the weight of a single word.

Eight years after, Mr. Adesina may be said to have navigated the hallowed halls of Aso Rock Villa, and played political chess games with razor-sharp wit and unwavering determination. As is on record, no Special Adviser on media and publicity has spent eight years with any president in Nigeria until his tenure. He avers no government is perfect but that every decision is a delicate balance of personal ambition, national interest, and the ever-present shadows of human infallibility.

The interlude for questions sent the atmosphere crackling with anticipation as listeners bared their minds on their own perception of the administration, policies, and the social media frenzy about a president who seemed out-of-touch with the realities of the citizens.

In responding to the questions, Mr. Adesina likened perception to the story of six blind men who attempted to describe an elephant. He narrates how rival factions manoeuvre for supremacy, their every move a calculated step towards securing their place in the corridors of power. Asked about the “HARDWARE” of the years under scrutiny, he said maybe someone else is better equipped to write on that.

In a deft initiative by Dr. Nana to inspire Mr. Adesina to open a Book Club at his home State of Osun, authors in the house rose to the occasion with a rare sense of patriotism, and sacrifice, by supporting the drive to re-ignite the culture of reading by donating their books to the Guest Reader.

Highlights of the evening included Mr. Adesina being given marching orders to set up a Book Club in his Community by the Founder of Uyo Book Club and the father of the Book Club initiative in Akwa Ibom State, Dr Udeme Nana who stressed that such a move would align with community service; the 8th habit of highly effective people as postulated by Stephen Covey. Thereafter, a signing session for the book on review which witnessed a sale out.

♦️ As the event inched closer to its end, one could not help but ponder that amidst the labyrinthine corridors and opulent chambers of governance, a deeper narrative always unfolds. Aso Rock Villa is not merely a stage for political theater; it is a microcosm of a nation’s hopes and dreams. It is here that the fate of a nation is decided, where policies are shaped, and where the aspirations of millions find voice.

One administration after another.

With or without the wailing wailers.

A country of 228,177,317 million people.

Including those of us here in Uyo Book Club.



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