8 January 2016

Nigeria: Who Is Femi Fani-Kayode?

Of course, Fani-Kayode would loved to be seen as a well read product of Cambridge University, a fearless essayist but his words in the media and on social media platforms are valid testaments to who he is, far beyond what any biography would do.

Men who put pen to paper as writers often tell the public more about themselves than they would ordinarily want them to know. More explicitly, Professor Olatunji Dare, a veteran and well-respected journalist, in one of his recent articles said that, "all journalism is autobiography, at least to the extent that, consciously or unconsciously, the writer always reveals something of himself or herself."

Considering Professor Dare's wealth of experience in journalism, it would be right to agree with him that an average writer describes himself through his or her writing at one point or the other. So, In an attempt to answer the question of who Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode is, it would help to place, side-by-side, what he wrote about former President Goodluck Jonathan and what he is now writing about President Muhammadu Buhari.

For someone like Fani-Kayode who very much prides himself as an essayist who writes nothing but the 'truth', nothing should reveal who he is more than his work - past and present. Perhaps, as I quote from some of his piece, the truth about who he is would become obvious. Mind you, this is not out of malice; whoever cares could fact-check but I'm sure Fani-Kayode would be glad that someone is giving him credit for what he said at one point or the other.

I recall that during the Igbo deportation saga in Lagos sometimes in 2013, Fani-Kayode took a swipe at the Igbos like no man's business in a series of articles on the issue. Specifically, in one titled, "The Bitter Truth About The Igbo", he said: "The Igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeria and killed Nigerians for three hard years in that brutal civil war in which over one million courageous, loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front trying to stop Biafra from seceding from the federation, from taking our land and from taking the minority groups of the Mid-Western Region and Eastern Region and our newly-discovered oil with them... It is the Igbo people more than any other that have complained about marginalisation in Nigeria, forgetting that there is no other country in the world in which there was a major civil war and yet only 10 years after that war ended the losing side produced the Vice President for the whole country in a democratic election in 1979 in the distinguished person of Vice President Alex Ekwueme." Fani-Kayode in another piece, "A Word for Those Calling Me An Igbo-Hater" said: "If only they knew their own history, where they are coming from, what they used to be, where they were 100 years ago and what their forefathers did to the rest of Nigeria over the last 80 years they would know why they have always had such a hard time in this country... "

Paradoxically, at the resurgence of the Biafran agitation, he had this to say: "I have not always been on the same page with our Igbo brothers yet despite that one thing is clear: only the callous would deny the fact that they have suffered immeasurably in the Nigerian Federation over the last 50 years". Do will call the obvious contradictions and the inconsistency in Fani-Kayode's work a manifestation of his 'special anointing' to manipulate and spin facts to suit his arguments?

Like other writers in Nigeria, Fani-Kayode vehemently traduced Goodluck Jonathan and labelled him a "president without balls"; he described him in the following words: "President Goodluck Jonathan has handed our country over to a bunch of butchers who have no value for human life." In another piece entitled, "Centenary Celebration and the Souls of The Slaughtered", he wrote: "There is no question in my mind that Nigeria is presently being run by vile and evil men. These are cowardly men that are being guided by satan, that have no fear of God... We have become a nation of vampires that is being run by a vampire President who feels no pain and who harbours no remorse when the blood of children is shed... " Again Fani-Kayode opined that: "Those that have been seduced by Jonathan's promise and charm offensive in this matter will soon learn that he is simply deceiving them... At the end of the day their greatest expectations, hopes and aspirations will be dashed and frustrated and they will be made to look like utter fools."

On another occasion, Fani-Kayode derisively advised Jonathan in, "Jonathan, Tukur and a Government of Jezebels", and part of it reads: "If Goodluck Jonathan wants his fortunes and the fortunes of his party to change and if he wants peace to return to our shores he simply has to do twelve things... Thirdly he must go and prostrate flat on the floor with his face touching the ground before seven of the most respected and distinguished men in this country... Those men are President Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, General TY Danjuma, General Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu... Tenthly he must undertake to stop serving kai kai at the Presidential Villa... "

Ironically, the same 'truthful' Fani-Kayode, who made caustic remarks about Jonathan's administration ended up the most reckless and restless lackey and spin master to the same administration after he was appointed as the Director of Media and Publicity of the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation. Furthermore, as Director of the campaign organisation, he said: "More importantly, we shall let the world know about the sterling performance of our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, over the last four years and we shall make a strong case and appeal to the Nigerian people to grant him the privilege and opportunity to serve a second term... We believe that General Buhari represents a return to an ugly past which is best forgotten while President Jonathan represents our hope for a greater and better future." In the same vein, he justified the inciting comment of Dame Patience Jonathan during the presidential campaign, by saying: "... To say that General Buhari is "brain dead" is an understatement and to suggest that he is suffering from dementia is nothing new... If he is not ready to face public scrutiny and criticism for his often irresponsible, retrogressive, nonsensical and asinine views, he should quit the presidential race and consider retiring from politics."

From these statements, Fani-Kayode, like a chameleon, changed from a staunch critic of Jonathan to his Yes man, while he ceased to be a respecter of Muhammadu Buhari who he initially listed among the seven most respected and distinguished men in Nigeria that Jonathan must beg. But, should we expect something better from a Fani-Kayode who could call a pig, "daddy", just to have a bite of pork?

At one instance, Fani-Kayode had taken a swipe at the Peoples Democratic Party, when he said: "The truth is that the PDP stopped operating like a political party quite a number of years ago. For the last few years, it has been nothing more than a cult of personality and a power contraption that was put in place simply to take power, under the guise of democracy, and to keep that power ad infinitum." Again he said, "The PDP will continue to sink because it is a political party that has lost it's bearing and it's soul and it has mortgaged it's conscience... Frankly speaking the PDP has become a party that is beyond redemption... I say this because no sensible person will go back to a stinking carcass... "

Given these assertions, is it wrong to say that Fani-Kayode is a member of a political party that is "nothing more than a cult of personality"? Although my prayers would make no difference if he is enmeshed in the Dasukigate scandal, however, I pray he's not swept off by this raging Dasukigate hurricane.

For space constraint, I wouldn't want to quote Fani-Kayode's comment that crowned him as the worst Kiss-and-Tell of our time or to mention the similarity between Fani-Kayode and the Samaritan woman who met the Lord Jesus Christ at the well. Of course, Fani-Kayode would loved to be seen as a well read product of Cambridge University, a fearless essayist but his words in the media and on social media platforms are valid testaments to who he is, far beyond what any biography would do.

Ahmed Oluwasanjo, writes from Abuja and can be reached on ahmedoluwasanjo@gmail.com.

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