With the appointment of Mr. Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu as media spokespersons, GMB is returning to the OBJ’s tradition of appointing spokespersons from the rank of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. After his initial romance with media outsider, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in his first term, as Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Obasanjo went for the late Chief Tunji Oseni and later Mrs. Remi Oyo (also of blessed memory). Both Oseni and Oyo were leaders of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, just like Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina. At the time of his appointment, Adesina was President of the guild. Mallam Shehu was NGE president 16 years ago. What such an appointment from the rank of the guild speaks to are expertise and experience in dealing with media issues. And between the president’s media handlers and the media, there is likely to be more understanding and mutual respect.
But there is another sense in which GMB also engaged in a reversal of the past, the past being the OBJ period. Recall the debilitating faceoff between Obasanjo and his deputy, former vice president Atiku Abubakar. When the problem was just building, Obasanjo had moved to dismantle the highly effective media team of his deputy, which paraded media gurus and revered academics, ostensibly more lethal than his own media team. He reached for the team’s jugular and began dismantling it one by one, claiming its one presidency and the President had the power to hire and fire in the presidency. He first fired Dr. Adeolu Akande and later went after Mr. Chris Mamah and Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. By that time, the altercation between Obasanjo and Atiku had reached its crescendo. Mallam Shehu, the seeming arrowhead of that team, was also not spared. The media team of the Turaki Adamawa dwarfed that of Obasanjo. Just check the original combination in Atiku’s office: Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, Mr. Chris Mammah, Mallam Garba Shehu, Dr. Chike Okolocha and Dr. Adeolu Akande. Obasanjo’s media team had late Mrs. Oyo, although there were also other OBJ’s senior officials handling sundry media briefs like Chief Onyema Ugochukwu (Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs and later NDDC Chairman), late Dr. Stanley Macebuh, Mr. Tunde Olusunle (Special Duties/Press Liasion) and Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode (Public Affairs). Now, GMB has brought the top dog of that Atiku media team, Mallam Shehu, to what he knows best how to do-handling media issues.