From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former spokesman of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and chairman of the Editorial Board of ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, has said he would have been more successful at his job if he was closer to his boss’ wife, Turai Yar’Adua.
Adeniyi was one of the resource persons at the Nigeria Government Forum (NGF), Media Conference for media handlers of state governors.
The conference on “Governors’ Public Perception: Changing the Narrative Agenda” had in attendance, Chief Press Secretaries to the governors of the 36 states.
Adeniyi said: “Studying your boss as well as those around him can make your job as spokesman easier. It is one of the ingredients to make one succeed.”
He in regret said that from the outset, he had resolved not to have anything to do with Mrs. Yar’Adua, regretting that in a way it hampered his job.
He said, “I was a spokesman to a man who did not like to talk about his health and that was a major challenge. But looking back, I believe I made a strategic miscalculation. I told myself I was not going to deal with the wife, so I stayed off the First Lady, I was not very close to her and I am still not close to her.
“But looking back I believe I would have been more effective if I were closer to her because I knew how close the two of them were. So in trying to work with your boss, try to study his person. Studying the person also means studying the people around him that will help you to do your job.
“Osita Izunaso, who was then spokesman to the then Senate President, Evan Ewerem, once told a story of how he was worried about the Evan and Evans news which was all over the media, and he went to see his boss to get him to react. He said the man looked at him and said ‘get out of here. I thought I employed a press secretary, I didn’t know I employed CIA.”
If he had studied his boss he would have known how to approach the man.
“The moment your boss begins to suspect you even when you are doing the correct thing, there is no way you can be effective.
“Like I said, studying your boss also means studying those around him, who are the people close to him that can help you. In the case of my boss, if I had been closer to the First Lady, I mean to his wife, I probably would have been more effective than I was.”
Adeniyi said spokespersons to state chief executives need a lot of imagination to be effective in office.
“Some of you were friends with your governors before your appointment, some of you were recommended by others, some of you were picked without knowing it because the governor had been following your career.
“But regardless of how you got the job, I can tell you, you don’t know your boss until you begin to work with him. And to know him you need to study him, know what puts him off and what he likes, what is the best and what you believe will help him do the job because basically you are there to help him.
“You can’t be effective if you do things that put your boss off every day and I say that with every sense of responsibility.”