Chief Femi Fani Kayode (FFK), former aviation minister, master of political chicanery, and repentant convert of Nigeria’s governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not new to controversy. He has been maintaining a rather low profile in the public space since his Damascus experience. But FFK is not a man to lie low for too long. In an opinion piece captioned Zelensky, Ukraine, and lessons for Nigerian leaders he came out guns blazing against Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky whom he called out in very uncomplimentary terms over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. To FFK, Zelensky should accede to all of Putin’s demands for peace to reign in his country. He accuses Zelensky of delusion, but the manner of his accusation raises questions about his perception.
“Yet the bitter truth is that all that President Volodymyr Zelensky has to do to stop the relentless slaughter of his people is to state clearly and categorically that the Ukraine will NEVER join NATO, that the Ukraine will NEVER allow foreign military bases on her soil and that the Ukraine will MAINTAIN her neutrality like Sweden and Finland” (Emphasis his).
Had FFK paused to ask himself the reason Ukraine wants to join NATO in the first place, he probably would have realised that it is to protect themselves and curtail the expansionist obsession of Putin demonstrated in the annexation of Crimea. By the way, why should a sovereign state dictate to another sovereign state what it must do and must NEVER do? But he is not done.
“He also has to allow the Russian-speaking people of Donesk and Eastern Ukraine to exercise their right of self-determination and either form their own independent country or become part of Russia.”
FFK has obviously forgotten the age-old saying that charity begins at home. Now that he is close to the presidency, he should first tell the Nigerian president to allow the Igbo-speaking people of Eastern Nigeria and the Yoruba-speaking people of Western Nigeria to “exercise their right of self-determination” and form their own independent countries, an agitation that landed Mazi Nnamdi Kanu whom FFK loves to call “my friend and brother”, and Sunday (Adeyemo) Igboho, FFK’s real brother by tribe, in the bad books of the government. FFK used to be a fervent campaigner against the ‘persecution’ of Nnamdi Kanu but suddenly lost his voice since his crossover to the other side.
Still railing at Zelensky, he says:
“I am constrained to ask, what type of man is this? Is he delusional or does he just pretend to be? I cannot possibly describe him as a hero. I say this because a hero HELPS his people, does what is in their BEST interest and does all that is REASONABLE and NECESSARY to guarantee their comfort, well-being, safety and security.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? This is almost the same way Femi berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the relentless bloody onslaught on hapless Nigerians by criminal Fulani herders. Recall that when former Akwa Ibom governor Godswill Akpabio decamped to the APC, FFK took Akpabio to the cleaners with his tongue, offering him some crucial reminders:
“… Buhari is not a man of honour, he is not a worthy ally, he does not keep to his promises and he does not have friends. The only friend he has is his insatiable lust for power which he feeds on a daily basis.”
“Has he (Akpabio) forgotten about all those that the Buhari government have killed and all those that have died and suffered in the struggle against them? Does the shedding of innocent blood by a desperate government mean nothing to him?
“Has he forgotten the tears of the tormented and persecuted and the cries of the widows, orphans and the bereaved whose loved ones have been butchered by jihadists, religious fanatics, cow-lovers and ethnic supremacists that Buhari has protected and encouraged over the last three years?
“Has he forgotten about the slaughter of northern Christians, IPOB youths and Shiite Muslims?
“Has he forgotten about the censorship of the media and how newspapers houses and radio and television stations are warned against airing or publishing anti-government material?
“Has he forgotten about Buhari’s insidious secret romance with Boko Haram and how he has strengthened them in the last two years by freeing their commanders and paying them huge and unprecedented ransoms?
“On a general note one is constrained to ask: why are most Nigerian leaders plagued with such a cowardly disposition and servile spirit? Why do they compromise so often and why do they tremble before power?”
Note that “insatiable lust for power”, “shedding of innocent blood by a desperate government” and “censorship of the media and how newspapers houses and radio and television stations are warned against airing or publishing anti-government material” fit snugly into Putin’s critics’ characterisation of the Russian dictator who is apparently one of FFK’s heroes.
In his characteristic manner, evangelical FFK then interceded for Akpabio:
“May God guide my friend and brother Godswill Akpabio and may He open his eyes and cause him to appreciate the folly of his own actions and the very grave consequences of the monumental mistake he is about to make.…
“May He remind him that those that joined Adolf Hitler, even in his last days, ended up dying with him.”
Are you asking whether FFK bought his coffin before joining ‘Adolf Hitler’?
Akpabio was not the only one to feel the sharp edge of FFK’s tongue. Reacting to the defection of Obanikoro and Omisore to APC in 2018, the former minister had said:
“I do not blame them for joining the ruling party to avoid persecution. Some are strong whilst others are weak. I would rather die than join APC or bow to Buhari.
“Those that do not have the courage of their convictions and that do not have the guts to stand against tyranny when under fire are not worthy of being called men: they are little better than beasts.
“A leader must be ready to sacrifice his liberty and life in defence of truth, justice and righteousness and he must be prepared to defend his nation, faith, people and loved ones no matter the price he may have to pay.”
Zelensky has demonstrated to the whole world that he is ready to sacrifice his liberty and life in defence of truth, justice and righteousness and he is prepared to defend his nation, faith, people and loved ones no matter the price he may have to pay. Yet, Femi says Zelensky is no hero. His own new hero is President Muhammadu Buhari. How can one possibly take seriously such a delusional man who has no fixed definition of heroism; whose villain today becomes his hero tomorrow?
As far as FFK is concerned, Zelensky is still the comedian he was before he became president and “cannot differentiate between being an actor/comedian on the stage and being the President of a great and noble nation of 40 million people who are depending on him to keep them safe and who look up to him to fight for their collective interest.”
A hero, according to him, “does NOT allow neo-colonial foreigners and greedy imperialists, ….. to fool, cajole and push his people into fighting a war that they cannot possibly win or to indulge in an unnecessary conflict with a neighbour that has a massive and all powerful conventional army and more nuclear weapons than any other nation in the world.”
Is Zelensky fighting a WAR with Russia or Putin invaded Ukraine to further his personal ambition? Is Ukraine firing missiles into Russia to kill civilians the way Putin’s soldiers are doing? Ukraine is fighting off the unprovoked invasion of its territory and the bullying of Ukrainians by Putin with his “massive and all powerful conventional army and more nuclear weapons than any other nation in the world.”
Is this not clear enough for everyone to see? Does FFK need to be reminded that thousands of members of Russia’s all powerful conventional army” will shed their blood in this invasion to water the tree of Putin’s ambition? Hundreds have done so already.
Nigerians know who their comedians in the corridors of power are, and Ukrainians know who their hero is. That is why they continue to stand with Zelensky at the risk of their lives while Russians are demonstrating against Putin in Moscow for invading Ukraine.
The preacher man and counsellor has more words of ‘wisdom’ for Zelensky:
“Trust only those that seek the path of peace and that urge you to make the reasonable compromises and necessary concessions. Can someone kindly whisper this wise counsel into the tiny ears of Volodymyr Zelensky who appears to have fallen in love with the applause and praises of the West and who refuses to do that which needs to be done to save his people from untold hardship and suffering?”
What does FFK understand by “reasonable compromises and necessary concessions”? Is he aware that Russian soldiers kidnapped the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol and installed a puppet mayor who called on the people demonstrating against the abduction of their mayor to adjust to the new reality?
That is a dress rehearsal for the intended dethronement of Zelensky and enthronement of a puppet president who will be answerable to Putin. Isn’t that exactly what the West is accused to have done with Zelensky?
Talking about the West, is Chief Fani-Kayode aware that in a United Nations’ emergency session, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, 35 abstained and only five voted against? How many nations make up the West? The only countries to vote NO along with Moscow were Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. Is Nigeria in support of Putin?
One could go on and on but let someone whisper into the satellite ears of FFK that he should remove the log in his eyes first so that he can see to remove the speck in Zelensky’s eye. Let him concern himself with the lot that the Nigerian president needs to do “to save his people from untold hardship and suffering.”
Meanwhile, here’s the big question: Is there any justification for Putin’s war?
Mark Rice-Oxley of The Guardian presents a historical perspective based on analyses by renowned political science, defence, and international relations scholars contrary to the craftily crafted propaganda of the protagonist of the invasion of Ukraine and his disciples:
From Random Thoughts: A Collection of Essays and Poems by Tony Ekata