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Buhari, His Photographer And Nigerian Youths By Olalekan Adetayo

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Bayo Omoboriowo      Photo: Nigerianmonitor
The
old Banquet Hall of the Villa which has now been renamed the State
House Conference Centre looked different on Thursday. The decoration in
the main hall was superb. Those present also made the venue look more
like a university campus. They were mostly youths who were busy for the
most part of the programme taking photographs with celebrities using
their smartphones. Skimpy and not too skimpy dresses were on parade.
There was enough music supplied by the likes of Dare Art Alade as well
as Simi and Falz. Kaffy also led a group of dancers.

The
event was a three-in-one stuff. The major one was the public
presentation of a pictorial book, “Buhari: A new beginning.” The book,
or call it album, is a product of the President’s personal photographer,
Bayo Omoboriowo.
Before
the commencement of the book presentation, however, guests were treated
to an exhibition that featured 24 pictures of the President as
documented by the youthful Omoboriowo and 24 artworks by young Nigerian
artists. All the 48 works on display were also compiled in a 41-page
glossy brochure for those who attended.
The
brochure opened with the photograph of Buhari acknowledging cheers from
a crowd as he visited Kano to attend the coronation of the Emir of
Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II on February 7, 2015 and his photograph while
talking on the telephone with former President Goodluck Jonathan who
called to concede defeat in the 2015 presidential election.
Other
photographs of the President in the exhibition included the ones he
took in his farm in Daura, Katsina State; the one taken with a
delegation of Anglican bishops;  and others taken inside his office, in
his official residence with members of his family or during his foreign
trips among others.
The
second leg of the evening event which saw those who attended glued to
their seats till a few minutes after 11pm was tagged  “The Conversation:
An evening with creative youths.” That segment was moderated by a
popular actress, Joke Silva. It had  “Creative youths as drivers of the
change agenda” as its theme.
Panelists
at the conversation with the President included a musician, Cobhams
Asuquo; a photographer cum musician,  TY Bello; an artist, Adenrele
Sonariwo; an entrepreneur, Adaora Mbelu-Dania; an actor, Ishaq Sidi
Ishaq; a fashion designer, Lanre Dan Silva Ajayi and a writer, Wana
Udobang. They all engaged the President on ways to encourage the youth
and make the creative industry more productive. Buhari also responded by
promising his administration’s support for the industry
With
that segment done with, then it was time for the book presentation. The
book was reviewed by a veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole, who
clocked 75 recently. Although Alade who anchored the programme gave him
only three minutes to do justice to his assignment, Smart-Cole did not
forget to thank Buhari for sending a congratulatory message to him on
his birthday.
The
book reviewer got ribs cracking when he said Buhari, in the birthday
message, described him (Smart-Cole) as a national asset. He then
expressed the hope, though jokingly, that he would not be sold. He drew
the joke from recent statements credited to the Federal Government that
some national assets would be sold as part of strategies to tackle the
nation’s economic recession. Those who got the joke roared in loud
laughter.
The
reviewer became very blunt at a point. In listing the sources of some
of the photographs in the book that were not taken by Omoboriowo
himself, he had said the author got some of the pictures from a former
photographer in the Ministry of Information who he called Baba Shettima.
He then alleged that the man left government service with the negatives
of all national photographs he took from a particular period till the
nation’s capital was relocated from Lagos to Abuja. This, he said,
forced the author to buy some of the photographs from Shettima.  “Baba
Shettima should be made to return the negatives of all those
photographs,” he said apparently to Buhari who he knows hates such
behaviour.
The
Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who stood in for a national
leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was
then called to present the book. After reading Tinubu’s speech, the
governor recalled how Omoboriowo participated in his campaigns as well
as that of Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti State.
The
governor said Tinubu offered to buy a copy each for 300 youths who were
the President’s guests at the event without disclosing the cost. Nobody
made any public donation. Pledge forms were simply passed around for
them to indicate their donations. It was announced that the author
promised to use part of the proceeds from the presentation to buy books
for Internally Displaced Persons currently being housed in IDP camps.
Although
no amount was disclosed, the array of guests ranging from state
governors to captains of industry was enough evidence that the evening
was a success.
While I was away…
It
is good to be back on the beat after my annual vacation. Like I wrote
while signing off, I spent the vacation at home and that gave me enough
opportunity to keep abreast of developments at the seat of power,
although from a safe distance.
While
I was away, the Federal Government inaugurated the national
re-orientation campaign tagged “Change Begins With Me.” Buhari said at
the event that before Nigerians demand to see the changes he promised
them, they must first change their own attitude by shunning corruption
and other social vices.
The
President had said, “Our citizens must realise that the change they
want to see begins with them, and that personal and social reforms are
not a theoretic exercise. If you have not seen the change in you, you
cannot see it in others or even the larger society. In other words,
before you ask ‘Where is the change they promised us?’ you must first
ask, ‘How far have I changed my ways? What have I done to be part of the
change for the greater good of society?’”
For
me, that was unfair to Nigerians. The change promised Nigerians was
unconditional at the time of promise. Why should it then suddenly become
conditional? Is this not a case of shifting the goal post when the game
is almost midway?
Still
on the “Change Begins With Me” campaign, a change that the President
will not want to begin with him ended up almost embarrassing him. He was
accused of plagiarising a part of the speech he delivered at the event
from United States President Barack Obama. The Presidency had since
admitted the offence and said that a deputy director had claimed
responsibility.
While
I was away, the debate on the recession also continued. The National
Assembly came up with an advice to the President to sack the relevant
ministers or at best redeploy them. The federal lawmakers had also
called on Buhari to find time to address a joint session of the National
Assembly on what are being done to tackle recession. Will the President
honour such invitation? Time will tell.
This opinion was written by Olalekan Adetayo of The Punch Newpaper

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