Some professionals of Igbo extraction have come down hard on the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesiba, over recent disparaging comments about the South East, insisting that such amounted to profiling of an entire race known for peaceful coexistence and order.
According to the professionals, Adesina’s statement, which came less than forty eight hours after the signing of a peace pact by presidential candidates of the various political parties, constituted hate speech, hence must be viewed seriously.
Operating under the South-East Professional Network in Nigeria and Diaspora (CSEPNND), the patriots called on relevant security agencies to, without further ado, invite Adesiba for questioning, noting that his opinion, which enjoyed wide publicity, is inciting in form, and provocative in character.
In a scathing essay, Adesina had literally said that the glory had departed from Igbo land as, according to him, the South East zone is now bugged down by killings, and other tendencies that may be at variance with peace, and order.
In a post entitled, “I missed the South East we used to know”, Adesina had said, among others, that: “Each time I read of killings by gunmen in the South East, I go into the doldrums. I get mortified by the sheer waste of precious lives, the wantonness, malevolence and viciousness of it all. And I mean killings on both sides.
“The innocent law enforcement agents, mowed down in cold blood, and the misguided, brainwashed gunmen, who more often than not do not get away with their evil acts. MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction. That’s what usually happens.
“I then tell myself. This is not the South East we used to know. What happened? How did grace turn to disgrace? How did young men, who used to be moved, motivated by sonorous songs and choruses suddenly become bloodthirsty hounds, not distinguishing between friends and foes, good and evil?
“How do you claim you want to liberate a people, after first shooting them to ribbons? How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12).
“The South East we used to know had Voice of the Cross. Oh, what a group of gospel singers! It had Sir Warrior, Oliver De Coque, Oriental Brothers, and many others.
“They would sing, and inspire you, and transport your mind to nobler things. Now, the soulful tunes have given way to the staccato sound of gunfire. What went wrong.
He continued: “The innocent law enforcement agents, mowed down in cold blood, and the misguided, brainwashed gunmen, who more often than not do not get away with their evil acts. MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction. That’s what usually happens.
“Let Reverend Sisters in the Convents, with their white attires sing those Igbo gospel songs, and nobody could convince you that they were not angels direct from above. Let the men, old, young, play the drums and other musical instruments, sing in baritone, and heaven would come down, and glory would fill your soul.
“Let a preacher from the region take the pulpit, and he intersperses his sermon with heavenly songs, which the congregation would respond rapturously to. That was the South East we knew, and not the current killing fields.”
Responding in a statement by its National Coordinator, Prof. Chika Madumere, the coalition condemned Adesina’s seeming hatred for Ndigbo, insisting that the senior journalist had shown consistency in his profiling of the Igbo race.
“The latest essay on the South East by Femi Adesiba, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Adviser on Media and Publicity, is a continuation of his campaign of hate against Igbo sons and daughters.
“We insist that his article entitled, “I missed the South East we used to know”, constitutes profiling of an entire race, whose people have an age-long tradition of love for neighbours, peaceful coexistence, progressivism, and egalitarianism.
“While condemning killings, in whatever form, we hasten to remind Adesina that criminality, and criminal elements exist among all ethnic groups, and regions in Nigeria”. It, therefore, betrays common sense, flies in the face of reason, for an Adesina to think that killings only occur in the South East region.
“Instructively, Adesina is notorious for holding extreme views about Ndigbo, and this development must stop henceforth, as we warn that no one has the monopoly of a vile tongue.
“It is regrettable that his acerbic attack on the entire Igbo race came few hours after distinguished Nigerians, including a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, as well as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, had warned against hate speech, and incendiary comments during this period of electioneering.
“As a senior member of government, there are minimum standards, which are expected of Adesina, but we regret to note that he has failed the test, as seen in his distasteful essay.
“It is our view that, if allowed to stand, the aspersion on Ndigbo by Adesina has the potential of inciting ethnic conflagration, if not now, later.
“We state, and unequivocally too, that Adesina has breached extant laws, including the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), as well as the Electoral Act (2021).
“To arrest this, therefore, we demand the immediate arrest, and interrogation of this man by relevant security agencies, to serve as deterrence against abuse of privilege by persons entrusted with positions of responsibility”.
“With due respect, we submit that the failure of the administration Adesina serves under, is responsible for growing insecurity in the South East, and the rest of the country.
“May we further remind Adesina that Nigeria, today, has been designated as the second most-terrorised nation in the world.
“We conclude by stating that the Vice Presidential candidate of the APC, Kashim Shettina, was once Governor of Borno State, the epicentre of terrorism and insurgency”.
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