Barely 48 hours after his appointment as special adviser to the Senate president on media and publicity, Festus Adedayo, was on Thursday, June 21, 2019 fired by Senator Ahmed Lawan after excessive pressure from the Buhari presidency and All Progressives Congress’ chieftains in the South-West.
Meanwhile, a Northern pressure group, Arewa Journalists Forum, has demanded his replacement with a professional from the north, similar to the appointment made by the seputy senate president, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege who chose his principal officers from the South.
In announcing the removal of the spokesperson to the Senate President, the Special Assistant Media to Lawan, Isa Mohammed wrote: “The office of the President of the Senate has reviewed the appointment of Mr. Festus Adedayo as Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President of the Senate and decided to rescind its decision on the appointment, and wishes Mr. Adedayo the best in his future endeavours.”
This came after prominent loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari and especially Office of Vice President Osinbajo and supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) condemned Adedayo’s selection by the Senate President.
The agitation for Adedayo’s removal was spearheaded by a horde of pro-APC loyalists on various social media platforms.
They cited the columnist’s history of anti-government rhetoric, pointing out that it was inconsistent with the ideals of the ruling party.
Recalled that a group known as APC stakeholders, on Thursday morning, had accused the Senate President of rewarding President Buhari’s enemies, after Lawan retained some aides of the immediate-past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
At a protest march, Abu Andrew, spokesperson of the group, noted that the appointments were “glaring” reward to people who have insulted Buhari.
He said: “No doubt, the appointments are glaring reward for people who have not only insulted the person of President Muhammadu Buhari, but also severally maligned the integrity of the office he occupies.”
However, PRNigeria authoritatively gathered that the massive pressure mounted by some influential APC South West politicians, and powerful individuals in the Presidency compelled Sen. Lawan to immediately reverse the appointment of Mr. Adedayo.
A credible source in the Presidency, who observed how the high-wire intrigue played out, told PRNigeria that even some elected legislators of Yoruba extraction vehemently kicked against the appointment.
The source said the pressure mounted on the Senate President since Tuesday afternoon when the news of Adedayo’s appointment broke, till yesterday afternoon, was quite immense.
He added that Senator Lawan was summoned to Presidential Villa to explain why he should offer such a delicate job to someone who is known to be an irrepressible critic of Buhari and APC.
“Several forces conspired to oust Mr. Adedayo, due to his style and writing antecedent. They were not just pleased that someone who ‘mercilessly’ vilify Mr. President will be invited to come and work for a distinguished politician in the APC central government,” he said.
The source, however, said the ‘Number Three’ citizen did not consider trivial factors such as ethnicity, religion or even party affiliation before picking Adedayo.
“He (Senator Lawan) had first conducted an interview among celebrated Nigerian journalists. He did not just wake up and appointed Mr. Adedayo. One thing those who kicked against Adedayo’s nomination failed to understand is that the Senate President finally settled for Adedayo because of his track record of performance as a one-time media aide to three former governors under PDP and APC in South-East and South-West respectively. The Senate President took into cognizance the much-espoused criteria of competence, merit and diligence to work, before picking Adedayo, an erudite journalist,” the source added.
‘Lawan should now appoint one of our own’ —Northern Communicators
In the wake of Mr. Adedayo’s sack, a group of communication specialists and notable journalists under the platform of Arewa Journalists Forum, have strongly demanded that the Senate President should now appoint a Northerner as a replacement for Festus Adedayo, who is from South, saying that he should emulate his deputy Senate President who appointed his aides from the South.
Hassan Galadima, a spokesperson for the group, said there abound several media practitioners, acclaimed writers and exceptional journalists of Northern extraction, who have paid their dues in the country’s media and PR industry that deserve such appointments.
Galadima said: “The only way young journalists from the North can be motivated and Northern journalists seen to be giving a sense of belonging is for Senator Lawan to now appoint a veteran journalist who is a Northerner, to fill the vacancy created by the sudden termination of Mr. Adedayo’s appointment. He should not create an impression that the North doesn’t have capable hands. He just need to emulate his deputy.
… I enjoyed the ‘drama’ my appointment, sacking elicited, Adedayo says
Meanwhile, the man who was in the eye of the storm, Mr. Festus Adedayo, said he had hitherto enjoyed every of the diatribes provoked by his appointment.
“As at the time of writing this, the issue (of my appointment) was said to be the most-discussed in Nigeria on the social media. Said to be the brainchild of some hired Rottweiler dogs loyal to some lords in the APC, a campaign dubbed #SackFestusAdedayo was mounted immediately and within hours, had given birth to thousands of recruits. Many of the commentators who took liberty to harangue me have no idea of who I am and went on a railroaded binge to dress me in an alien robe.
“Since 1998 when I began column-writing, I have a graveyard of public personalities whom my cudgel has whiplashed for perceived infractions in power. Give me 10 pieces I wrote in uncomplimentary review of President Buhari, I will give you 20 I did in utter vilification of Jonathan, his ministers and those close to him. Jonathan never raised a voice against me. One thing my traducers don’t know is that I have no attachment to those criticisms. I am like a prophet; once I deliver my message, I move on.
“What those who are vilifying me for always writing against government should have done was to rise from their laziness and conduct an x-ray of my writing. In my close to 20 years of public sphere intervention, I am a rabid anti-establishment person. I believe that in establishment lies the plague of the Nigerian state and my writing reflect this much. Even though, I am everything but a saint, I believe that government should reflect the highest moral echelon of society and those who run it should make covenant of chastity and fidelity with themselves
“The truth is, my writings are political party and tribe-blind. I detest injustice, politics and run away from politicians as much as I can. One thing you cannot accuse me of being complicit of is the vermin that has eaten into fabrics of my journalism profession. While I am not saint, I have never blackmailed anyone in my life and I have very scant veneration for the god of Mammon,” he said in an online article.