Buhari, Osinbajo, Leave our Books out of your failures

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
buhari osinbajo

A few days ago, I was to run into a video where Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, former vice president of Nigeria was eulogizing General Buhari. From the video, I was to learn that the occasion was the formal launch of a book titled Working With Buhari, written by one Femi Adesina, media hand of General Buhari, the man who put Nigerians through some of the worst times Nigerians ever had. But I must tell you truly that after the SAN was through with telling his own version of his own ludicrous experiences with Buhari, you would not be looking to read Working With Buhari anymore. You immediately come off with the impression that in addition to being clueless and inept, the chaps who were there were just jokers.

I am okay with the fact that the author of that ‘book’ is well within his rights as an individual to chronicle his experiences while he worked with his master. Servants are wont to be obsequious and servile, even when the master is an ass. Last year, the respected SAN who was making all those tasteless jokes of his encounter with General Buhari also had a book written. How did he do it? He gathered together a group of some of his people and apparently commissioned each one write chapter after chapter to tweet and sing about his wonderful performance as vice president. To some of us in the book industry, this was a big surprise – a big surprise because that attempt at making the SAN aloof and sweet like a piece of cake and far away from the tragedy of the Buhari failure of a government was a very silly attempt at deodorizing the putrefaction of that epoch.

Many leaders worth their salt often write their own books themselves either as memoirs or autobiographies. Because of the seriousness, and sometimes the monies that are often realized from these book enterprises, great effort is often put to do a factual analysis of their tenures whilst in government, and at the control of the destinies of a people they have led. They know that these books would live after them. Whilst they do so, they follow the book writing processes very painstakingly and very rigorously. The publishers take the drafts and work at it, maintaining the arduous craft and art of producing a book. The reason is that apart from the books being a historical account, it is a testament of the intellectual make up and capacity of the author. Most leaders who often took decisions that had centrifugal and centripetal repercussions at national and international scenarios and circumstances use the book opportunity to defend the choices that they had to make whilst in power. They would never get effete hands and intellectual minnows to narrate a blow by blow account of how they managed serious matters that affected the destinies of the people whose destinies they presided over. They do it by their own hand, and they stand by it. I have read Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Gates, Benjamin Franklin and the like. None of these chaps took to surrogacy to write their books. When you read some of the narratives by the chaps I just mentioned, you get a clue of some of the very difficult conditions that those leaders faced in the course of taking the unpopular decisions they had to take.

After the SAN’s ‘book’ was published, I did a post mortem just like this. In that post mortem, I said that in spite of the whitewash and the PR that that document tried to achieve, ‘Buhari blood Runs Through Osinbajo’s White Agbada’. The SAN’s minnows came at, and after me, and unleashed a vitriol, and a staccato of insults and invectives. I was convinced however after those invectives that I had actually hit a bullseye with my analysis.

But Buhari and Osinbajo are not the only persons ‘writing’ books. Abubakar Malami, former Buhari Attorney General wrote one with an intriguing title – Traversing the Thorny Terrain of Nigeria’s Justice Sector – My Travails and Triumphs. You can easily spot the differences – while Malami’s was an autobiography the others are by backdoor authors. In Malami’s book, you see him doing exactly what the Clintons and the Gandhis and the Bill Gates and the Bransons tried to do, and this is irrespective of his wonderful grammatical errors and bad spellings. What is clear, however ,with most of these puerile things coming out from these public officials is that they would not be needing to write these books if they had been accountable and transparent in their dealings with Nigerians. And book or no book, what we do in life echo till eternity.

There are many reasons why we kindly request some of these overnight book writers to get their hands off book writing. In the recent past, the book industry in Nigeria has taken both a lull and a hit. With prevailing economic mismanagement of resources under the watch of these current book writers, many a Nigerian would rather go in search of daily bread than sit and read a book. Whilst in power, none of these wannabe book writers ever supported the book production community with either a fellowship, an endowment or a reading attributed to their names – none. They let an important ‘book’ centre as our universities to rot. But the most important reason we urge them stay away from the industry is that their books are polluting the literary community instead of enriching it. Those books are often poorly put together, and are very shoddy examples of what up and coming writers and novelists may want to copy. What those books by Prof Osinbajo and General Buhari have pointed out clearly is that most of those who lead us do not read, and therefore clearly cannot write. It is a most unfortunate thing, and a very sad commentary I must add, that very often after we have been led by those who have had a strong disdain for writers, they turn around to want to hire writers to write their books for them. They should leave our books out of their failures.

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