“The suggestion that l joined the APC is false and insulting. Those that are peddling this fake news should bury their heads in shame. With what we have witnessed, l would rather die than join a filthy, rat-infested sinking ship like the Almajiri Peoples Congress (APC).”
– Femi Fani Kayode (December 2019)
The stormy petrel of opposition politics in Nigeria, Chief Femi Fani Kayode, widely known as FFK, is alive and well. He received a red agbada reception at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Thursday September 16, 2021, when he was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari as the latest decampee to the governing All Peoples Congress (APC). Hitherto, FFK held the unofficial record as the greatest critic of the APC and President Buhari, whom he had serially described as the problem with Nigeria.
As expected, the media is agog with comments and analysis of this partisan somersault. Not a few are asking what he is bringing to the APC table and what value he has to add to their quest to hold on to power come 2023. To answer this question, it is pertinent to know who FFK is. So, who exactly is Chief Femi Fani Kayode? This was the question Josey Mahachie, the beautiful Zimbabwean journalist based in Bonn, Germany asked FFK on her virtual Chit & Chat programme in 2020. His answer:
Well, I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, 16th October 1960. From the age of 7 I was at school in the UK, I went to prep school there; Howard House, Kent. From there I went to Brighton College and then to Harrow School which, in my view, is the best school in England, then went to Kelly College in the West Country. From there I went to university – University of London School of African and Oriental Studies – where I did my first degree, then I went to Cambridge University after that, where I did my second degree. My father was at Cambridge, my grandfather was at Cambridge, all studied Law, my older brother was at Cambridge, my great grandfather was at Durham University, many years ago. After doing Cambridge, I came back to Nigeria, did the Nigerian Bar and was called to the Bar, worked in my father’s law firm for a number of years, of which I was made a full partner … I was there for a number of years, then I went into politics around 1991. That’s where my political career started and I’ve been quite active in politics…
If Aristocratic pedigree will add value to the APC re-election project, it is obvious that FFK has it aplenty. He never ceases to remind the world that three generations of his family attended the prestigious Cambridge University London. Recall, also, his widely reported retort to Eyo Charles, the Daily Trust newspaper reporter who had asked him the ‘bankrolling’ question during his self-assigned good governance tour in August last year:
“What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything? Who do you think you are talking to? “Don’t ever judge me by that standard. I spend, I don’t take and I am not a poor man, I have never been and will never be!”
Also, responding to a question on the popular Channels Television Politics Today programme, on whether his move to the APC was related to financial inducement, a question he described as ridiculous and absurd, FFK said, “I stand proud and I stand tall. The kind of family I come from, the kind of background I have, finance is never an issue.”
However, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, is reported to have described FFK as “… my boy. Provide him food, he will eat and then sing for you. He’s a smart boy.” Obasanjo should know. In the Josey interview, FFK had volunteered:
I met with President Olusegun Obasanjo around 2001 and I was with him from that point more or less every other day, up until the time we did the election in 2003. I joined his government, I was his spokesman, Special Assistant on Public Affairs, and I spoke for him, I defended him, and went after his enemies, a difficult job, did that for 3 years, then I became [or was rewarded with] a minister in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, then I was redeployed to Aviation.
Femi Fani Kayode’s newfound love for President Buhari is confounding. Just last year, to Josey’s question, “When you look at President Muhammadu Buhari, what do you see as Chief Femi Fani Kayode?” FFK did not mince words in his response:
My position for the last 5 years is to call out this government. President Buhari has divided our country on ethnic and religious lines. President Buhari has introduced the Fulanization agenda in our country. President Buhari has introduced an Islamist agenda in our country. President Buhari has released more Boko Haram prisoners than anybody in our history. President Buhari has paid more terrorist ransom than any president in our country. He has treated them with kid gloves and even reintegrating them into our armed forces, which is unspeakable. President Buhari has not taken this war against Boko Haram seriously and President Buhari in my view, shares some of the objectives of Boko Haram. Why do I say that? President Buhari said years ago that he wants to spread Sharia throughout Nigeria. President Buhari said an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on Northern Nigeria. President Buhari said Muslims should vote for only Muslims. We have the 4th most terrorist organisation here, according to the Global Terrorism Index – the Fulani militants; we call them Fulani herdsmen here. President Buhari has encouraged them. President Buhari has refused to bring them to justice. President Buhari has treated them with kid gloves because he happens to be a Fulani man himself. And they have pillaged, tortured, killed many people all over the country for the past 5 years, like Boko Haram has done. Quite apart from that, there has been an onslaught on the Christian Faith for the past 5 years in Nigeria. In this country, Nigeria, every single security agency (we have 17) in the country, is headed by a Northern Muslim, except for the navy, which is headed by a Southern Christian [then].
The way the economy has been run has been atrocious; the country is now the capital of poverty in the world. This is a disgraceful title to have. So, we are poor, we are divided, we are conflicted, we are suffering, we have very little; all the reserves we had in our foreign reserves have been spent, the president has borrowed more money than all the previous governments put together for the previous 20 years, and these are verifiable facts. He has pushed our country to the brink. I ask myself, ‘how can anybody justify this?’
The Middle Belt has been subjected to absolute terror over the last 5 years, and guess what, it’s the same people inflicting that terror; those that believe that they’re born to rule, those that believe they own Nigeria, and those that believe the rest of us are slaves.
At that point, Josey had asked him another critical question: “All politicians are the same. If you were appointed as one of President Buhari’s ministers, would you criticise him the way you’re criticising him now?” His response:
May God forbid that I should ever take a job with a government that I believe is divisive, is sectional, has Islamist tendencies or Fulanisation tendencies; I would never accept that. And let me tell you, light and darkness cannot meet… I will fight the government that is killing my people and God forbid that I should join anybody that will put blood on my hands. I’m too much of a believer for that. I fear God too much for that; and mine is to fight the evil, not to join the evil.
At this point, let’s take a short musical break.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode told Josey that one of his titles is Ayo’fe Olorun (The beloved of the Lord). He also disclosed that he went to Bible College in Accra Ghana in 1993 where he “did a degree in Theology.” It is not surprising, therefore, that he attributed his ‘call’ to the APC to have been influenced by the Holy Spirit. According to a Vanguard report, Mr. Fani Kayode said that he was led by the Spirit of God in his decision and that he joined the APC for the unity of the country.
But many people are not convinced, including Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the renowned Muslim cleric with ‘a PhD from abroad’ who referred to FFK as ‘Judas of Oduduwa.’ The Kaduna-based Islamic cleric wrote in a Facebook post: “I have for long, neglected the rantings of the Judas of Oduduwa attacking me knowing fully well that he is fake and a traitor. Time has now caught up with him and thanks to Allah, all his vituperations are cast in the dustbin of merciless history.”
FFK said last year that he was fighting the tyranny of the Buhari government:
I’ve been trying my best to stand against a government of tyranny, a government that has divided our country, and a government which I believe has actually destroyed the future of our people.
The question on the minds and the lips of observers is ‘what has changed?’ My Esan people in their rustic wisdom say, Ohanbhęn i gbe mhęn sę ni l’ebale bhi si oyamhęn (I cannot be so hungry that I’d eat at my enemy’s home). But the eloquent former minister avers that things are no longer as they were:
“Let me put this to you; a lot has happened in the APC itself over the last few years. The APC I was speaking about at that time [only last year?] is not the APC of today. The APC of that time, I will say any day, anywhere, did not have the leadership that they have today.
“Today, you have a man who is a national chairman, caretaker committee of APC; that is Governor Mai Buni, who has done exceptionally well in attracting people and presenting a broad-based, liberal, pluralistic view on national issues and national affairs. He has opened the door of the party to all manner of people with a plurality of views … That is the difference between that time and this time.”
All manner of people, indeed!
Fani Kayode’s about-turn did not come out of the blue, nor is his inconsistency that surprising. He recently started a political romance with Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, an APC stalwart and presidential aspirant. Also, after consistently pushing the Covid-19 conspiracy theory that coronavirus was caused by 5G technology and that the vaccines had nano chips designed to depopulate Africa, he unabashedly took the vaccine he called ‘Evil Gates Killer Vaccine’ in March.
Back to the question of what value FFK is bringing to the APC, cerebral essayist and public affairs analyst, Dr Ugoji Egbujo, thinks he has a nuisance value, which could be very useful to the governing party. He said in his reaction to the FFK volte-face that “politicians love agberos. Because they believe people have to be bullied. Sophisticated agberos may not have the capacity for physical violence but they can do incitement, generate alternative reality. Nuisance value is value. Nuisance is particularly of great importance in Nigerian politics, where politicians lack self-belief and live make-believe. Fani Kayode is a consummate rabble-rouser. The country is filled with the excitable rabble.”
People say ‘all is fair in battle.’ There is no greater political battle ahead than Aso Rock 2023. But Dr Ugoji Egbujo has a caveat:
“If we allow politicians to get comfortable inciting division and violence when throwing tantrums, angling for chunks or crumbs, we will ruin the country. If we encourage politicians to forgo moderation in speech and action by rewarding political arsonists with recognition and prominence, we will destroy society.”
So, what are we to expect next? More crossovers! But the lesson for the people is to beware of pseudo-messiahs and champions of the masses who profess that over their dead bodies would they abandon the common cause.
It’s not over until it’s over!
From Random Thoughts: A Collection of Essays and Poems
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