By Segun Adeniyi.
As spokesman to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, one of the most difficult decisions he made was appointing the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States. Ordinarily, that should be a simple matter but it was not. It’s actually a long story but I will abridge it. The ambassador at the time was retired Brigadier General Oluwole Rotimi, a former Military Governor of Lagos State, a respectable senior citizen. At a point, Ambassador Rotimi had some disagreements with his supervisory Minister, the late Chief Ojo Maduekwe. In the process, they also exchanged some angry memos.
In one of the memos, Rotimi described his minister as a tribalist before he added: “I have dealt with people like you in the past. I was the Adjutant General of the Nigerian army that thoroughly defeated your ragtag Biafran army.” The late Maduekwe attached the memo, underlined the offending paragraph and sent it to the late president with a covering note that Rotimi lacked the temperament for the office. That line, probably written in anger, marked the end of the ambassadorial career of Rotimi. But the story did not end there.
After the next nominee had to be withdrawn on account of a problem involving his step son, my late boss called a former governor from the South-west now of blessed memory and requested for a respectable nominee without blemish. The former governor came to the Villa and personally brought the CV of his nominee who turned out to be a respected former naval officer who had also been a military governor in the sixties. You will wonder why all these nominees had to be Yoruba. It is because the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, at that point, zoned the position to the South-west. With that nominee, President Yar’Adua felt the problem had been resolved until a copy of Nigerian Tribune edition of 1994 surfaced.
In the paper, there was an interview in which this new nominee, apparently due to his frustrations about the political situation in the country vis-à-vis the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, made some disparaging comments about people from a section of the country. The moment the newspaper interview was brought to the attention of my late boss, that nomination was also withdrawn. The message here is simple: there are consequences for everything you say in the public arena and in the age that you are in, there is no bigger arena today than the social media.
SOURCE: EXCERPTS FROM A LECTURE AT BAZE UNIVERSITY, ABUJA TITLED ” “Leadership and responsibility in the age of social media” DELIVERED BY SEGUN ADENIYI, CHAIRMAN, EDITORIAL BOARD OF THISDAY NEWSPAPER AND MEDIA ADVISER TO FORMER NIGERIAN PRESIDENT, LATE UMAR YAR ‘ ADUA.
Credit: Chukwudi Iwuchukwu.
By Segun Adeniyi.