In all my playful attempts to pan the gimmicks of former presidential aide and minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, in social media, I was advised to redirect my interest to more profitable contributions to public discourse. A politically isolated man, clearly incapable of protecting the electoral deposit of any serious people or party, he seems permanently engaged in seeking whatever might pull him even a little bit out of isolation and attract the attention of both the people and the establishment. The same establishment to whom he remains, as I’ve heard members of it describe him, a desperado.
To refer to the politics and principles of Mr. Fani-Kayode as ”controversial” is undeserved praise, for controversy is often our perception of the things we do not understand. Nobody misunderstands this former minister. For a man who wrote, without shame, actually unregretfully, that he had “intimate relationship” with women who are now other men’s wives, women who have now attained social relevance and political prominence, women who are now mothers training children to whom they hope to be seen as behaviourally perfect, women who are now role models and mentors to the younger generation, just to illustrate that he’s not a bigot since the ladies are from the ethnic group he was being accused of hating—there is only one adjective that accurately qualifies him: petty.
That Fani-Kayode and his ilk have found themselves in positions of power, where their decisions were relied on for policies to be implemented, is a scary realisation; they are responsible for the ruin that is our heritage. Their rise to relevance is a proof of the dangerous political opportunism in practice in Nigeria, one that favours a clique that comprises family and friends of families whose principals were once in charge of an affair in the country.
In his latest attempt to confuse himself, in one of his usually long, incoherent and verbose essays, “Goodbye Nigeria, Welcome Oduduwa Republic”, he took us down a memory lane that only exposes his absolute ignorance of the present trouble with Nigeria. He praises the Nigeria of Murtala Mohammed and Theophilius Yakubu Danjuma as the model, and of course he has every right to do that. Yet he remembers the middle-class, these are his family and friends, “whose wealth once knew no bounds and who . . . once owned the finest cars and properties in London, Paris and New York.”
He also does not forget the globetrotting beneficiaries of Nigeria’s corruption who “once graced the streets of Belgravia, Chelsea, Hampstead and Knightsbridge.”
Of the things that make a nation, or that are reminders that a nation has fallen, the former minister highlights that our “ancestors studied at Oxford and Cambridge as far back as the 1800′s” and that our “inhabitants and various ethnic nationalities once ruled vast empires” and that our “progenitors contributed so much to the traditions, religion and culture of Ancient Egypt”. Of course, Ancient Egypt!
Perhaps his most embarrassing psychobabbles are those that come out in his quest to know “(w)hat has happened to our great intellectuals…” without even acknowledging that a Nobel laureate walks amongst us today and that there are many sound intellectuals at our ivory towers who, unlike him, haven’t been favoured to be invited for recognition or political appointments by the establishment. Equally disturbing are his demands to know what happened to “…our men and women of courage and vision who once, like a collosus, bestrode the world” in a time where the Jelani Aliyus, the Chimamanda Adichies, the Abba Gumels, to name just a few, have made marks in inventions, literature and mathematics respectively. Even at Facebook Inc., the owner of the social networking service, Facebook, where Fani-Kayode amuses his “friends” and followers, Nigerian-born scientists and engineers are employed to contribute to this evolution of the world’s biggest online community. That we have no institution to engage these masters of specialised disciplines for the development of our own country is a failure of this generation whose destruction, Fani-Kayode, and even his father, is a contributor.
But noteworthy in his thesis on a dysfunctional nation is where he, a threatened intellectual, propounds the reason we must see the existence of Nigeria as useless. Mr Fani-Kayode does not mention a single plight of the members of the lower-class who are the actual victims of mis-governance by the elite of which he is a member. What bothers Fani-Kayode cannot really be the “born to rule” posturing of the northern elite referred to as “the northern oligarchs” with whom he is close friends. What bothers him is obviously the fact that he’s been outsmarted in this political equation in which he has neither regional nor national value. His only value as a Nigerian is the fact that he’s the son of a one-time-long-ago Big Man who had afforded his son’s schooling at Redbrick institutions, easy wealth, globetrotting and, more than these, potential membership of the establishment.
Fani-Kayode’s grouse is the impossibility of sharing a space in a nation “with religious extremists who slit the throats of children”, yet the security arrangements being undermined by these murderous terrorists were designed by the Establishment! As a one-time Minister of Aviation, he had his chance to collaborate with relevant agencies and organisations in building intelligent security systems through which these antisocials and terrorists could not have passed through without detection, not to talk of going on to threaten our existence as they are now.
Possessed by his characteristic bigotry, Mr Fani-Kayode, in disparaging the north and its intolerable terrorists does not admit that of the three Nigerian-born terrorists overseas, caught in the act, two are actually his kinsmen, fellow Yoruba who, like Shekau, have become throat-slitting terrorists. Last year, Michael Adebolajo, who asked to be called Mujahid Abu Hamza, and Michael Adebowale, who asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah, were convicted of murdering – and I mean by slitting the throat – of a 25-year-old British soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, south London. The third, Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, whose attempt to bomb a plane was foiled, is the son of a northern “oligarch”.
Yet, as if these two kinsmen are not enough proof, in the same year, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the extradition of a Yoruba man, Lawal Babafemi, to the U.S. to answer terrorism charges. The 32-year-old tribesman of Fani-Kayode has been declared wanted by the FBI for membership of the terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda. He’s also reported to be friends with senior members of Al-Qaeda, Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan. And he’s a citizen of Fani-Kayode’s imaginary Oduduwa Republic. A few months after the Woolwich murder, two Nigerians, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Oluremi Adewumi, were arrested by the Nigerian secret police and charged with assisting an Iranian militant cell in planning possible attacks in Nigeria. I don’t know who Berende is, but Adewumi is unmistakably a Yoruba, Fani-Kayode’s kinsman!
Violence is not a bigot. It consumes every ethnic group, race, religion and political party, indiscriminately where there’s no trust and communication. Consequently, every bigoted and extremist element in the society is potentially violent, and following Fani-Kayode’s antecedents as a hate-preacher who has no convinced audience (yet), he’s guilty of all he’s accused the “born to rule” northerners of. Violence is the aftermath of institutional destructions, of which Fani-Kayode who’s been a regular “customer” of the EFCC, is not innocent. An act of terrorism is the effect of an evil ideology that consumes even the Yoruba, that has consumed Adebolajo and Adebowale and Adewumi and Babafemi, whose yet-to-be discovered bretheren may end up as citizens of the proposed Oduduwa Republic!
Fortunately, the Yoruba are not sheep, and thus any opportunistic shepherd imagining to successfully lead them even one mile into the valley of deceit is only being delusional. On different occasions, I told my friends, many of whom are Yoruba, that the Yoruba people are my favourite in Nigeria, being the most educated as portrayed and the most enlightened as I’ve personally observed. I have absolute confidence in their resistance to being hoodwinked by an individual’s or a group’s religious and ethnic pettiness.
So, I’m not surprised to see that Yorubas are among the loudest critics of Femi Fani-Kayode’s relevance-seeking stunts. Of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, none has ever been as vigilant and critical of amorphous ethno-religious advocacies like the Yoruba. Don’t misunderstand this, but if Fani-Kayode were a northerner or a “Biafran”, the foot soldiers of his delusional campaigns for secession may have already dominated our space, all fanatically and franctically in solidarity with ”one of their own!”
Nigeria is what it is today because of the “neutrality” of the south-western people whose son was denied Presidency and yet, despite their expressed bitterness, they remain trustworthy believers in One Nigeria. If Abiola were a northerner or easterner, a second civil war might have just been coming to an end now. It’s a pity that Fani-Kayode has no idea that he’s from an ethnic group hard to polarise and play. In my next coming, if that’s indeed possible, I wish to be from a people so sane and progressive.
Nigeria has never at any time been under the rulership of a single ethnic group. The destruction of this country is a collective effort of the political elite whose membership cuts across every ethnic group and religion and region. The Civil War, for instance, was waged when the leadership of Nigeria was under a Christian head of state and a Christian deputy. But, to an incurably bigoted Nigerian, the war was a design of the northern Muslims to kill the “Christian South”.
We’re are our worst enemies, and an experience this week confirms that: I read that one million Mexicans – yes, 1,000,000! – converged just to say “#BringBackOurGirls”, in solidarity with Nigerians. Yet, here, at a similar “mass” sit-out in Abuja, the conservative estimate of campaigners has reduced to about 100. Yet, elsewhere I read:”According to Dermographia, the population of Abuja’s Urban Area as of 2012 is 2,245,000.”
Ours is a nation of one-hundred-and-seventy-point-something million cowards of which only the negligible and statistically powerless “point-something” are patriotic. This is why I feel that we deserve what’s happening to us. A functional nation is not built by amens and tweets alone. As a representative of the new generation, my dream is to see Nigeria rescued from the Fani-Kayodes who have employed ethnic, religious and regional sentiments to keep us perpetually against one another. May God save us from us!
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)