Femi Adesina, Buhari and the Wailers: A review of ‘Working with Buhari’, By Michael Olatunbosun

Michael Olatunbosun
Michael Olatunbosun

The book, Working with Buhari: Reflections of a Special Adviser, Media and Publicity (2015 – 2023) is authored by Mr. Femi Adesina (Safari Books, 2023), the author states his intention immediately. The 30-chapter book showcases the man, Muhammadu Buhari, his motivations, thoughts and achievements in the eight years of his administration. It also gives an account of Mr. Femi Adesina’s service to the man whom he describes as the honest man – “Mai Gaskiya”. So in the preface, Adesina states that his book “is the Buhari story from the perspective of someone who served him from the very first day in office to the last…an eyewitness report …about the Buhari software not the hardware.” And right from the first chapter, the author sticks out his neck by stating that his love for Buhari dates back to 1983 when he was military head of state. He avers that Buhari got his support immediately when he entered partisan politics, believing that with Buhari in the saddle, Nigeria would regain the paradise lost in August 1985.

The author believes in the Buhari phenomenon because of his history of high-handed handling of Nigeria when he held the reins of power along with Babatunde Idiagbon in 1983. He seems convinced that a tough person like the Buhari of the 1980s would help Nigeria to develop faster, arguing that like Nigeria, any country serious about development needs “some sort of benevolent dictatorship somewhere and sometime” in its history. (p1)

He writes about the electoral explorations of Muhammadu Buhari in 2003, 2007 and 2011, the last of which he had vowed never to contest again. But the 2015 presidential election was different, especially for Buhari, because he won. But for a man who never wanted to work for government, Femi Adesina receives a midnight call on April 1, and after some moments of introspection, he eventually takes the appointment of Special Adviser, Media and Publicity. This is essentially because for someone who has been selling Buhari to Nigerians as honest, it was going to be hypocritical to refuse to serve in that government.

In the third chapter of Working with Buhari, Femi Adesina recalls the events and intrigues that led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker, House of Representatives on June 9, 2015. He avers that this made the APC an opposition to itself, and “government was hobbled, impeded by an uncooperative National Assembly” (p24).

In chapter four, Mr. Adesina’s preoccupation is the wailing wailers, an expression he coined for people who had resolved (p33) “to oppose APC and Buhari all the way” and used as their tool, “the media, traditional and digital, where they engaged in endless ululation.” In the perception (p34) of the author, these wailing wailers “just decided to wail as much as possible through all media of mass communication, thinking they would then do Buhari and his party the maximum damage.”

The book provides explanation of the Buhari WAEC certificate saga in detail in chapter five. He also provides clarification as to why his team stopped presidential media chats, essentially because people always misread the president’s responses. And that they mostly encouraged the president to speak to international press because it was less hostile, but this was also stopped too, because of allegations that he was always only talking to foreign media. Also in the book, Adesina discusses the Buhari administration’s feisty encounters with the media. In chapter eight, Femi Adesina recalls how the media in Nigeria had perceived Muhammadu Buhari during the military era, especially false claims circulated about missing funds in the petroleum ministry when Buhari was minister. He recalls that this frosty relationship was carried over into the civilian government of President Buhari, with reference to the celebrated cases with The Punch newspaper.

While it is important to note that journalists posted to the State House must hold high premium professional ethics and conduct, Mr. Adesina controversially argues (p109) – along with Chief Duro Onabule, a veteran – that it is “a privilege, not a right for a news medium to cover the Presidential Villa.”

In chapter six, the author brings out his long multi-finger horsewhip and lashes out at the leaders of the Christian religion. He digs out their files of hate against candidate Buhari in the 2015 presidential election, and years after until he left office in 2023. He mentions the big general overseers in the Nigerian church and their campaign against Buhari with their pulpits, to their congregants. He lashes out very strongly at their vitriol and hate sermons against the man, contrary to the dictates of the Holy Bible. He mentions their names one after the other, both big and small, and notes their misinformation, disinformation and outrageous, unholy and unfulfilled prophecies against Buhari and curses they rained on him and his government. Without any apologies, the author declares them enemies of the nation who do not preach the word of God but preached “from their own Bibles”.

As would be expected, Mr. Femi Adesina dedicates a whole chapter of the book to the months of the president’s battle with health challenges and the various battles that he himself fought while speaking for the president at that time. He also discusses in that chapter the Jubril of Sudan narrative that flooded the country at that time. This chapter is indeed full of information and intrigues.

In the book, the author gives the reader a glimpse of the relationship that exists between Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo in chapter ten. He includes the media team’s persuasion that the letters of the later should be responded to, and why Buhari was always reluctant in doing that, out of respect for his senior in their military days. And in the next chapter, Femi Adesina gives us Buhari’s brief perception of former heads of state and important personalities including Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Goodluck Jonathan, and Lt General Theophilus Danjuma. In chapter twelve, the author presents a medley of Muhammadu Buhari’s thoughts on some socio-political issues like Godwin Emefiele and Naira redesign, allegation of Fulanisation and sundry others.

In the fourteenth chapter of the book, Mr. Adesina explains that serving Buhari was not as difficult as people thought. It was only all about engaging the “Babel of voices” bent on distracting the president. In fact, the author writes (Pp192-193) that it was not difficult managing Brand Buhari because he was “as straight as an arrow, clean as a whistle, and there were no dark corners in his life.” He beats his chest and sticks out his neck to testify that President Buhari neither had secret local or foreign accounts, nor secret houses, old or new that needed “covering up or explaining away.” Buhari “always said what he meant and meant what he said,” therefore there was no reason “to start explaining and twisting. … So, it was very easy to manage him.”

Remember that a key theme in the book is the author’s showcase of the achievements of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The whole of chapter sixteen, spanning about 80 pages is dedicated to this. The chapter (Pp207-285) is aptly titled “Buhari’s Achievements: Facts are Stubborn Things”, and therein the author highlights in great detail all of Buhari’s achievements across all sectors including legislative reforms, infrastructure, digital economy, agriculture and solid minerals, diplomacy and international relations, among others. An additional section (chapter twenty-five) chronicles Buhari as a finisher of projects he inherited from the previous administration.

Other sections of this voluminous book contain issues of national security, what other world leaders said about Buhari. As a curious Nigerian, one might love to know how Buhari received the “Emilokan” speech of then aspirant Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The details are in chapter twenty. The next chapter contains details, purposes and dates of President Buhari’s over 50 foreign travels, including the ones that had to do with his health. Then the author describes for us the final days of the Muhammadu Buhari administration before handing over on 29th May 2023, as well as his own homecoming detailed in chapter twenty-seven.

In the chapter, Homecoming, Mr. Adesina writes (p397) that he is thankful to God for returning home after eight years, in one piece: “Bruised in some ways, but with head unbowed from the onslaught of the Wailing Wailers.” He also details out all the groups and persons who welcomed him back and all the nice write ups published in his honour.

Indeed this 488-page work is a clear testament to a golden 8-year stewardship by a media maestro and gallant service to President Buhari by Mr. Femi Adesina. It is a really loaded work with something for everyone, including his friends and foes. It is also a rich portrait of President Buhari, with colourful close-up views of the man, his government, his governance style and his unreported sides. This is a book for all.


  • Olatunbosun is a broadcast journalist, fact checker and book reviewer at Splash FM 105.5, Ibadan. He can be reached via, on X @miketunbosun and +234-802-351-7565 (SMS only)

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