Why The Sun published Gov. Fayose’s death wish advert on General Buhari — Femi Adesina + How he used his column to write Gen. Buhari into relevance

The GDA & Mr. Femi Adesina after the encounter
Femi Adesina is the kind of leader you have and you can go to bed with the hope of a
greater tomorrow. A gentle man to the core and a very dynamic news room manager
of over two and a half decade; The Managing Director/Editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Publishers of Daily Sun, Saturday Sun and Sunday Sun
is  equally a very busy man with couple
of activities begging for his attention here and there.

I have known him for a
couple of years since my great brother and elder in the profession; Mr. Louis Odion (Now Commissioner for
Information and Strategy, Edo state) brought me in contact with him. Very meek,
generous with laughter and goodwill and equally reliable; he is one of the very
few Media leaders in Nigeria and perhaps Africa, who understands well, the
tenets of a “Public Interest Media” as he encourages a lot of young journalists
and media executives to grow through his freewill leadership style.

Femi Adesina is equally the President of Nigeria’s media elite organization, Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) a position that straddles his attention and
commitments with that of managing a giant media establishment like Sun Publishing.
 A columnist per excellence, his Friday-Friday
column at the back page of Daily Sun (With
his famous
[email protected] email address) is like an addiction to the intellectual appetite of
legion of readers across Nigeria. Apart from the grasping narratives he uses to
promote his opinion, Adesina is a
master of native expression as he uses his literary wits to narrate local/contemporary
issues that stir arguments and counter opinions. It is also on record that in
the last seven years plus, Femi Adesina
remains the only Nigerian columnist that has consistently and conscientiously
used his column in The Sun Newspaper
to promote the candidacy of Nigeria’s President Elect, General Muhammad Buhari. His several articles on the potentials of
the Spartan retired Army General turned politician has drawn both love and hate
for Adesina in equal proportion and
those are the issues this blog raised with him when we caught up with him
penultimate Wednesday May 6th after six week on his trail.
Getting to his Kiri-Kiri Road, Apapa-Lagos
office was not a hassle but taking another two hours to wait at his guest room
for his guest/visitors to “release” him was another assignment we had to tackle.
But with patience on our side, we were ushered into his ambience inside his
large portioned office around 6pm in the evening and the encounter with
Africa’s number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika
began.  We spoke to Mr. Adesina on his
recent trip to the historical city of
Ephesus
in Turkey, his over 7
years passion for the candidacy of General
Muhammadu Buhari;
the crisis of Governor
Ayo Fayose
of Ekiti’s “death wish” front page advertorial on General Buhari published by The Sun Newspaper during the
electioneering period and how he runs The
Sun Publishing Ltd
side by side his role as President, Guild of Editors. This is part One of the interesting encounter
with one of Nigeria’s most innovative media titan. Enjoy!
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika….’Nigerians must learn to trust and be patient for the Buhari-Osinbajo government to deliver’
Can you tell this blog your
experience as the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of
Sun Newspaper vis-à-vis your role as President, Nigerian Guild of Editors?
Yes, it has
been quite challenging and interesting. 
It is time demanding but then, God gives the grace. The grace to do the
work is available. The grace of God is sufficient and because one is in one’s
area of specialization and expertise, one enjoys doing it. So, it is a job I
enjoy doing. 
“That is the reply I give them
whenever they react to my column and write all those things that ‘Buhari will
never rule this country again’ I will just reply and say ‘Goodluck to you’ and we have seen that no man is God; no man should
ever use the word ‘Never’, it is only God that can use that word ‘Never’ and it
truly would mean ‘Never’ but with man, we cant say “Never”.

Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika…’We ran Gov. Ayo Fayose’s ‘death wish’ advert  after a thorough professional tone down’

My Turkey Experience

You recently travelled to the City of
Ephesus a biblically historical city in Turkey; can you share your experience
on that trip with Asabeafrika?
It was
actually my first trip to Turkey and
I learnt a lot. Turkey straddles Asia and Europe but Turkey
competes with any other country in the western world. It was an eye opener to
me that Turkey was as modern as any
other western country. Turkey is 98 or 99 percent Muslim population but it is
not an Islamic state even with over 98% Muslims Turkey is still not an Islamic state. It is a secular state and you
can compare them with any other part of the world. The second thing I noticed
was that their currency is very strong.
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika….’My trip to Turkey opened my eyes to so many realities about Turkey’

Is it as strong as the Dollar or
Pound sterling?

Not the same
thing but the exchange rate is not very wide like we have it here and when we
were changing our dollars to their currency, it was less than four to a dollar
and they were complaining that their currency has gone down. So, it is a very
strong economy. It is a full and delightsome country except for some
dissatisfaction with the political situation.
Femi Adesina to Asabeafrika….’I always told people who criticized me for supporting General Buhari that i wish them Goodluck’

What Turkey needs from Nigeria

I read in your Friday column in The Sun of Friday March 20 that the political
situation in that country is callous especially to the media? Is that true?
 
Yes, the
president is not having it easy with the media in that country and certain
political forces. From what I gathered, I think the president started quite
well but it is like that there was a parting of ways between him and some key
stakeholders in that country including the media establishment. I think that is
a draw back to the political sagacity of that country.
An overview of his expansive office

Is it similar to our own challenge in
Nigeria?

The only
similarity that can come is that if Turkey
will change its political situation, they will need a coalition like we had in
Nigeria. We had a coalition in APC where the old ACN, CPC, a part of APGA, ANPP
came together and formed a powerful coalition-APC and they have now ousted the
PDP. If they are going to oust the current ruling party and that president
(President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) in Turkey, the opposition has to come
together. If they pull in different direction, they will never be able to oust
him and I hope they will learn a lesson from Nigeria. 
 “I believe that at 72, General Buhari just wants to put his
foot prints indelibly in the sands of time in Nigeria, what else does he wants?
I wrote it before that if the man didn’t steal our money when he was 40, would
he steal it at 72? No, he won’t”.
Femi Adesina, MD & E-in-C, The Sun Newspaper in a chat with Asabeafrika

How I reacted to Gen Buhari’s victory
Let’s come back home, you are one of
the famous columnist and editors that has consistently supported General
Muhammad Buhari with your column in the last six years. Could you say you
fulfilled now that General Buhari finally won the 2015 election and on his way
to Aso Rock?  
(Burst into
a blaze of hearty laughter)…That is an understatement (Laughs Heartily). I am
very, very happy and thankful to God that in my own life time, something I
desired came to be. Something I hope and pray for came to be. You needed to see
me when the election results were coming in I just began to really praise God
and give Him thanks that in our own lifetime, change was coming to Nigeria. I believe that change is not just a slogan or a mere mantra. We will see that change manifest.
L-R;
Femi Adesina, Gov. Ayo Fayose, Otunba Gbenga Daniel & Dr. Orji Uzor
Kalu during The Sun Standard Exit Awards for Katsina state Governor,
Bar. Ibrahim Shema

But when you were writing your column
and trying to sell the candidacy of General Buhari, a lot of people went out
criticizing you, they thought your analysis couldn’t come to pass. So, how do
you feel with such people now?

Yes, I feel
vindicated. Quite vindicated because a lot of people didn’t see what we were
seeing, they will abuse me, they were sending messages that this man will NEVER
be president and some will use the word N-E-V-E-R and I will just reply them ‘Goodluck to you’ (Laughter) That is the
reply I give them whenever they react to my column and write all those things
that ‘Buhari will never rule this country again’ I will just reply and say ‘Goodluck to you’ and we have seen that
no man is God; no man should ever use the word ‘Never’, it is only God that can
use that word ‘Never’ and it truly would mean ‘Never’ but with man, we cant say
“Never”.
L-R; Femi Adesina, Gov. Ayo Fayose, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Gov Shema of Katsina & Wife with Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu

You have shown a whole lot of concern
to the deplorable situation in our educational system through your editorials.
With a man like General Muhammad Buhari, what do you think is going to be the
fate of the educational sector, media and general economy?

I believe
that at 72, General Buhari just wants
to put his foot prints indelibly in the sands of time in Nigeria, what else
does he wants? I wrote it before that if the man didn’t steal our money when he
was 40, would he steal it at 72? No, he won’t. So, let us start with the media
industry, yes, when he came as a military leader there were some mistakes that
he made and he has learnt from those mistakes. He really has. From his own
word, he said he is a reformed person; he said he is a democrat. He was a
military ruler in his first outing; now, he is a democrat and I believe that
democracy cannot thrive without the media. So, the two must work together and I
think General Buhari is going to
cooperate with the media in this second coming. Then, the second one is
education. One of the blighted areas in Nigeria is education and because General Buhari is coming to effect a change, education is one of the areas
we need change. You need to see what
we went through the upper years when universities were on strike for over three
months. I have a daughter in the university and she was home all those months,
it was frustrating for parents. As we speak right now, doctors are on strike in
many areas. In UCH I know the resident doctors are on strike and in some other
teaching hospitals like that. I believe that this in-coming regime will make a
difference in the live of Nigerians. Of course the economy is down no doubt
about it. The news came today that the government had to borrow about Two
hundred and Seventy-Two billion naira
to pay salaries; it shows you
that the economy, really has collapsed. Really, really and truly, the economy
has collapsed and I want to believe that the incoming regime will make a
difference.
 “Our publisher himself (Dr. Orji Uzor
Kalu) says it, that The Sun has
grown beyond him. He says that The Sun
belongs to the people now and not to him and during the election he told us,
‘do a balanced paper’, ‘if you use this paper to support PDP and election ends,
what we shall be selling?”
One of Femi Adesina’s reveting articles on the candidacy of Gen

Buhari is not a magician…

There is the fear that General
Muhammad Buhari’s government might not have the temerity to hit the ground
working immediately. How do you think the reform will take shape and Nigeria
will start feeling it?
Only God
does immediate miracles. Man has to do things progressively; so, I want to urge
Nigerians to just give the incoming government that time, that patience that
they will require to fix things. It is not going to be like waging a magic wand
and things are conjured. No, it will take time. I just want to urge Nigerians
to be patient with that government. But one thing is key in governance and that
is trust. I believe it is going to be a government that Nigerians can trust.
Nigerians can trust General Buhari’s
government and that ability to trust government should also tell them that they
must be patient and that government will serve them. Buhari/Osinbajo will serve Nigeria to the best of their ability.
The GDA in the heat of the encounter with Mr. Femi Adesina

Why Sun Newspaper carried General Buhari’s ‘death wish’ advert

During the campaign period it was
curious to know that your newspaper
The Sun was one of the medium that carried the death wish advert from Ekiti
state governor
Ayodele
Fayose, how were you able to survive the
heat of criticism despite the fact that personally, you as the MD, you are a
General
Muhammad Buhari person?
Yes, I must
confess I saw that advert before it was published but what was published
eventually is not what came originally. We had to tone it down considerately.
And after it was toned down I felt it should go but then, wishes are just
wishes (Loud laughter). The wish (of Governor Ayodele Fayose) didn’t come to
pass because General Buhari didn’t
die; he will not die now. He will serve Nigeria and certainly he will make a
change in this country and when it is in the fullness of time for him to go and
rest, he will go and rest.
‘Ayo Fayose is my very good friend even though i disagree with some of his opinion

Gov. Ayo Fayose is my Friend

So, if you set your eyes on Governor
Ayo Fayose how will you feel that his wish didn’t come to pass?
Governor Fayose is my friend, he is my friend. I
like him, I could have reservation about his politics but as a person, I like him.
If he calls me now and I call him now, you need to hear how he will salute me
and I will salute him (Laughter). He will hail me and I would hail him. He is
somebody I like. I may have some reservation about the way he plays his
politics but we are friends and I like him.
During the electioneering period a
lot of Nigerians also discovered that your brand
The Sun supported Goodluck Jonathan in her
front comments, it was like the front cover was for GEJ while the back cover
every Friday, by you, is for General Buhari. How were you able to play politics
with principle?
Well, that
goes to show you that there is editorial independence in The Sun; right from the
publisher to the least person in this place, there is editorial independence.
Let me tell you, the publisher is a PDP person, in his column he will support Goodluck Jonathan. I, I wouldn’t call
myself an APC person, I don’t have a party. But I am a Muhammadu Buhari person, okay? And I would write to support him. In
this company there are about eight to ten columnists who are anti-Buhari and
they will right from Monday to Thursday, they will write their anti-Buhari thesis and on Friday, only
myself and Chief Duro Onabule who
will then come out to support Buhari. So,
it shows to you that there is true editorial independence in The
Sun
.
Some of his awards given by local & International bodies

Why Sun Newspaper is Number 1

Your brand has also grown in terms of
innovation and circulation, I was in Niger state couple of months back and your
newspaper was one of the first brands to arrive the state capital? How have you
been able to grow from strength to strength in such a competitive market?
We give the
glory to God and I want to say that unless God gives you success, you cannot
attain it; you will see that right from day one The Sun was a hit in the
market and it has remain as a hit with the people and we as the people that run
The
Sun
, what we just do is to continue to give the people what they want.
Give them what they want and they will remain truthful, faithful and loyal to
you. So, we will continue to give what people want; anytime we have the
information that this is what people want, we give it to them and we will
continue to do that, we will stay with the people. When we started over twelve
years ago, we said we were going to stay on the side of the people and that is
where we are and we will never leave the arena of the people.
Femi Adesina to Asabefrika…’The Grace of God allows me to run both the activities of Daily Sun and NGE

A lot of media enthusiast believes
that
Daily Sun is the only newspaper
in Nigeria that has a public trust agenda as other publication reign on proprietorship
interest and nothing for mass public. How did you achieve and sustain this?

Our
publisher himself (Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu) says it, that The Sun has grown beyond
him. He says that The Sun belongs to the people now and not to him and during the
election he told us, ‘do a balanced paper’, ‘if you use this paper to support
PDP and election ends, what we shall be selling? (General Laughter) If you use
it to support APC and election ends, what shall we be selling?
(Cuts in) So far it is not
AIT….(Laughter)
We know some
media houses that took position on the side of the PDP; the question is ‘what
would they be selling now that PDP has lost out in the power game? So, it is
better to be professional and ethical at all times.
Femi Adesina’s article on his trip to Ephesus in Turkey

Why The Sun is honoring Katsina Governor

You have also gone into innovative
ideas and events that are extra-ordinary in nature. The next one coming up this
Saturday is what is known as “The Sun Outstanding Performance Exit Awards”.
What calls for this and what is it all about?
It is just
to honor those who deserves honor and to glorify service to the public. That
award was conceived as something that will be given to a governor that is ending
two terms and who has made significant impact in the life of his people. We
visited Katsina state and we were
amazed at what we saw, really, really amazed at what we saw and that was why we
decided to give that honor to Barrister
Ibrahim Shehu Shema
, the Governor of Katsina
state
and we believe that he truly deserves it.
Are you saying Governor Shema is the
most outstanding out-going governor in that part of Nigeria?
By our own
estimation, he is quite outstanding and he deserves the honor.
Mr. Femi Adesina, MD & E-in-C, The Sun Publishing & President, Nigeria Guild of Editors

Why The Sun went into events management

Your Sun Man of The Year Award is rated as Nigeria’s
most expensive awards ceremony. Why did
The Sun Newspaper dabble into events?
Now, what we
aim at is this. Over the years it has been said that Nigeria is a mono-product
economy. Only oil, oil, oil, that is the only thing Nigeria depends on and
whenever the price of oil goes down, it becomes a problem to Nigeria. We have
learnt a lesson from that, as a media house we cannot have just a mono-product,
just a newspaper. You have to have other stream of incomes. We are a
multi-product company and that is why you see us stage most of this innovative
events. Yes, in whatever we do we try to do well. For us, cost is not an issue.
It is just to do whatever we do well, have a grand outing and let people that
attended be satisfied that ‘Yes, The Sun has put up a fantastic
show”.
The conference segment of his expansive office
(Watch out for Part 2 of the Femi Adesina Exclusive titled “Why I love Pastor W.F. Kumuyi” tomorrow
on this blog
)

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