A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has hit back at critics who had lampooned him for attending President Muhammadu Buhari’s son, Yusuf’s wedding to Zahra in Kano on Friday.
His bride is the daughter of the Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado Bayero.
Mr Fani-Kayode came under intense criticism after he posted a photo of himself on social media upon arriving in Kano on Thursday to attend the high-octane wedding ceremony.
Several politicians, party stalwarts, and personalities graced the wedding while no fewer than 20 private jets landed at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport en route to the wedding.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event were former President Goodluck Jonathan, a former President of Niger Republic, Muhammdu Isoufu; governors, government officials, and federal lawmakers.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, also attended the wedding.
“Friend and brother”
However, a photo of Fani-Kayode shaking Mr Pantami, is what has got his critics talking non-stop.
Shortly after his arrival in Kano, he described Mr Pantami as a “friend and brother” adding that “it is a pleasure and a joy to be here”.
His critics say this was despite his consistent criticism of the perceived poor performance of the President in office and also of Mr Pantami, who recently courted unfavourable public backlash over comments he made in his past which many Nigerians viewed as portraying him as a religious fanatic.
Mr Fani-Kayode’s critics reminded him that just months ago, he had described Mr Pantami as ‘‘a religious bigot, an ethnic supremacist, an unrepentant jihadist, a lover of bloodshed’’.
Mr Fani-Kayode responded saying that his faith teaches him to forgive those “who express regrets about their past actions and utterances and to be at peace with as many people as possible”.
‘‘Are you still foaming at the mouth because I shook hands with Isa Pantami? Keep foaming and let your blood pressure go higher.
“If you like drop dead. I offer no apology or explanation and I need no validation from you. You either trust my judgment or you do not and either way, I do not care.
‘‘You can run up and down like weather-beaten and rain-soaked chicken whose head has been cut off until you collapse. You can do all these things simply because I took a picture with a fellow Nigerian and called him my friend and brother.”
The former minister, who denied defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in February, also wondered why they (critics) were making a big deal about his decision to attend the wedding and “fraternise with so-called perceived enemies”.
He wrote, ‘‘It does not move me and it changes nothing: though we may not agree on everything. Isa and I are now friends and we will remain friends. Live with it or die with it. If most of you had 10% of my courage and foresight Nigeria would be a far better place. History will vindicate me and posterity will judge us all.
‘’You didn’t see Buba Galadima hugging Ahmad Lawal. You did not see GEJ shaking hands with PMB. You did not see Atiku shaking hands with PMB. You did not see GEJ shaking hands with Osinbajo. The only thing you saw was FFK shaking hands with Isa Pantami!”
He also said unlike his critics, “he dares to be civil and to be civilised to those that offer him respect and friendship even if they do not agree on all things.”
Mr Fani-Kayode is not new to controversies. He recently attracted condemnation when he insulted a Daily Trust reporter who had asked him during a press briefing where he got the funds to visit different prominent political leaders across the country in his avowed mission to ‘build bridges and friendship across Nigeria’.
He later apologised.
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