Femi Fani-Kayode: Lamentations of an Angry Man – By Felix Oti



Recently, I read  an extensive interview – at least, it seemed like it – granted by former  Aviation Minister (among many other offices) under the Obasanjo administration,  Femi Fani-Kayode to Adewale Aladejana of mytestimonys.blogspot.com. Aside from  Femi, some other former members of the Obasanjo administration have, through  diverse fora, expressed disappointment at the course the nation has taken under  the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. They have repeatedly lamented what they see  as a regression of the perceived progress made during their terms of  service.

In reaction, the  attack dogs of the current administration, referred to as today’s men,  have,  in occasionally  uncharacteristic manner, dismissed these concerns as the ranting of yesterday’s  men who could not come to terms with the reality of their current lifestyle as  just common ordinary Nigerians (like the rest of the 159.9 million of us).  However, a quick reminder that today’s men, when tomorrow comes, could end up as  yesterday’s men, seem to have put and end to such childish  name-calling.

It is common  knowledge the world over that former members of an administration would always  have something to complain or criticize about those who took over from where  they left off; look at all the former governors in cat-fights with their  replacements who, ironically, used to be their assistants or political sons,  over various reasons, ranging from the serious to the mundane. What struck a  chord with Femi Fani-Kayode’s lamentations was the level of bitterness expressed  therein, and the direct accusations and ominous pronouncements made against both  the living and the dead. It reminded me of the bitter and curse-laced  vituperations of the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, after the  National Party of Nigeria (NPN) brazenly stole the 1983 general elections. Dr.  Azikiwe, outrightly, placed a curse on the NPN, the Shagari administration, and  elder statesmen who kept silent while the nation burned –at least, Ondo state  did. By December of that year, three months after being sworn in, the second  term of the Shagari presidency was violently terminated, and many prominent  Nigerians found themselves cooling their heels in moldy jail houses, along with  their political opponents.

Now, thirty years  later, we have an ex-Minister, though not on the same level as the Owelle;  however, a younger one, in a society where his friends and peers are busy  devising ways and means to defraud the government in a more mechanized way than  ever witnessed in the history of the nation; in a society where people serve in  government to line their pockets and service their immediate families, someone  this young, with years of fruitful (?) service to his nation still ahead of him,  feels so wronged by his observations of the bungling of the current  administrations that he would make doomsday pronouncements about the nation and  people of Nigeria. He felt so frustrated by the slow pace of progress (if any)  that he would, pointedly, accuse the president by name of being weak-kneed and  running down the country.

Did Femi  Fani-Kayode go too far? I have been pondering the answer to that question since  I read the interview. Listen to him, though waxing spiritual, quoting bibles and  making references to stories showing a Godly order of doing things: “there will  be a change in Nigeria, whether anyone likes it or not. It will be a brutal  change”. He went on to call attention to the high poverty rate, unemployment,  crime rate, corruption which has grown exponentially under the current  administration, and insecurity;  all  perennial problems which are not particular to the Jonathan administration. He  directly accused the president of incompetence, wishy-washy, weak, indecisive,  and ineffective towards the security situation pervading the northern parts of  the nation. He even placed the death of, according to him, 4200 Nigerians in the  hands of Boko Haram on the feet of the president. All these are, unfortunately,  appendages frequently tagged on the president by many Nigerians, regardless of  party, gender, and ethnic origin.

At a point, the  criticism takes a funny turn; at least in my opinion. H e accused the government  of using the EFCC, SSS, and other security and regulatory apparatus to harass  people who dared to criticize it; something which was the norm under the  Obasanjo administration which he served. One is left wondering why Femi did not  object then, even mildly, as he is doing now to the Jonathan administration.  Many state governors, Ministers, senators and PDP officials are living witnesses  to Obasanjo’s use of the national security tool to destroy people. I am sure  Femi needs no reminding that what goes around comes around; also, that in some  legal parlance, silence is akin to acquiescence. Or, closer to home, his  brother’s famous statement in the novel, The Man Died, that evil thrives where  good men keep silent – something like that.

On the late Yar,  Adua, Chief Fani-Kayode practically called him an evil man, and appeared to  gloat over his passing. He complained how the late president hounded and haunted  his family with the EFCC and other state security apparatus, because he dared to  speak out. According to him, Yar’Adua had no business being president of a  nation like Nigeria. Ironically, this is the same man who admitted privy to all  the manipulations that imposed the late president on Nigerians; it was the same  Femi who, after the anointing, took Yar’Adua to meet with the late Libyan  dictator, Khadafy. It was the same Obasanjo’s political manipulation that threw  up an obscure Jonathan to the position of the vice presidency, thereby producing  a weak president and a weaker vice president. In all this doing, good men like  Femi who had front row seats in the Obasanjo administration, kept silent while  this evil thrived.

In a way, the  blame for the current state of the nation lays partially on Femi Fani-Kayode’s  feet. He was there when Obasanjo took control of the PDP apparatus and weakened  its leadership; he was there when the same Obasanjo selected a sick, weak man as  president; he was there when the same Obasanjo hounded good men like Audu Ogbe,  and Barnabas Germade out of the PDP, threw Olabode George into prison, sent  Arisekola-Alao and Otunba Balogun to their knees, and ran many governors, senate  presidents and House speakers out of office for daring to have a mind of their  own. Yes, Femi Fani-Kayode was there when Obasanjo sought an unconstitutional  third term, and he said nothing.

I am neither a  historian nor as religious as Chief Fani-Kayode has proven to be in his  interview, but I read something somewhere that went like this (I am sure Femi  knows it):

First they came  for the communist, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a  communist.

Then they came for  the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a  socialist.

Then they came for  the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade  unionist.

Then they came for me, and there  was no one left to speak for me.

Yes, like every  Nigerian, Femi has the right to complain and lament the current state of  Nigerian affairs; what he does not have is the right to blame it wholly on the  current administration, which many of us are not fans of. I also believe that  one should always come to equity with clean hands; in this case, Femi’s hands  are not clean. Though he may have, on his own, done his best to improve the  lives of the ordinary Nigerian when he was in government, he lacked the same  courage and decisive action he now expects from Jonathan and his lieutenants  when his own boss was laying the foundations for the current state of our  nation.

Felix  Oti

Arlington,  TX




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