The title of this article was the exact interrogation posed by a senior security official at an casual breakfast in August. It was at a time when speculations were rife that Principal Femi Fani-Kayode would defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the People’s Democratic Political party (PDP).
I have ever referred to Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) as a “Flaming-for-Flaming” advocate, since Feb 2004 when I wrote a rejoinder to his unacceptable public burst piece he was Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the and so President Olusegun Obasanjo. My rejoinder exposed the loophole in a statement Fani-Kayode had issued against Colonel Dangiwa Umar, a former armed forces administrator of Kaduna Province, and Full general Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), over an issue they had with Obasanjo.
In the article, which was widely published and titled, “PR Analysis of Fani-Kayode’s Rejoinder on Dangiwa Umar”, I criticised him for using high-sounding, derogatory expressions, such as ‘pathological liar’, ‘treachery’, ‘ingratitude’, ‘destructive false’, ‘endure a shape of delusion of grandeur and ‘misguided sense of self-importance, amid others, against the subjects of his diatribe.
Patch appealing to ethics and utilising the tools of PR to counter his approach, I offered crucial advice to Fani-Kayode. I insisted that a successful publicist is not judged by the powerfulness of his/her oratory, expensive regalia and appearance with bodyguards, but by the power to analyse issues critically, and not in a mode that’s so vitriolic and unpleasant – fifty-fifty when pushing an issue he or she is so passionate in relation to. I added that amiability, humility and openness to criticisms, are not weaknesses but attributes of a good communicator who as has a clear mission.
With his combative postures and bombastic public engagements, Fani-Kayode has continued to remain relevant, coming together the right people at the right time, and making the right connections for the right appointments.
Born on Oct 16, 1960, and named David Oluwafemi Abdulateef Fani-Kayode, he had most of his schooling in Britain. After serving as Principal Press Secretarial assistant to the first off national chairman of the National Republican Conference (NRC), Principal Tom Ikimi in 1990, he was appointed Special Assistant to Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a former chief of the Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO).
Thereafter, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as his Special Assistant on Public Affairs in 2003, before he was elevated to the post of Government minister of Civilisation and Tourism, and later as the Government minister of Aviation in 2006.
FFK was a fellow member of the PDP until 2013 when he defected to the APC as a founding fellow member. In that initial role, he constituted a continual thorn in the side of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Notwithstanding, he returned to the PDP in June 2014 to go the spokesperson for Jonathan’s re-election cause till 2015.
When his political party lost in the presidential election and was hounded by the newer administration, FFK refused to be intimidated. He constantly pushed dorsum and railed against President Buhari, top APC members and the regime, taking them to the cleaners for their various perceived unethical acts. His pick of words in tackling those in powerfulness was as mercilessly as it was venomous.
Meanwhile, in responding to the enquiry by the senior security source before mentioned, I pointed out that FFK had cordial relationships with the detained leaders of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and of the Yoruba Country, Dominicus Igboho. I as emphasised that although the 2 men are the prominent faces of the secessionist agitation in Nigeria nowadays, they yet have stronger sympathisers and supporters within and exterior regime.
In some of FFK’s engagements with the agitators, he seemed to affirm and encourage their divisive and inciting rhetoric, especially in terms of the purported Fulanisation, Arewanization and Islamisation agenda of Northerners in Nigeria.
Thus, I expressed dubiousness in relation to the opportunity of the credence of Fani-Kayode into APC by President Buhari and the political party stalwarts. I nevertheless mentioned my strong belief that whether FFK genuinely renounces his essentialist, whether not bigoted, ethnic and devout outlook, he has the potential to add together value to political and social stability, in a mode that enhances national security.
A few weeks after the breakfast verbalize, FFK did not only decamp to APC but was received through a red carpet reception at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when the APC caretaker chairman, Governor Mala Buni of Yobe Province, with Bello Matawalle of Zamfara Province presented him to President Buhari.
The reception was also greeted with wild attacks across Nigeria’s political spectrum. Surprisingly, the bulk of those condemning Fani-Kayode for decamping to APC at present were the same ones commending him and so when he was attacking the Northward, its leaders and the Buhari administration. Some of his attackers have been politicians, public commentators, and secessionist campaigners of the outlawed IPOB and Yoruba Country groups.
The politics of decamping and defection in Nigeria is nil new. Fifty-fifty though some observers pointed out that Fani-Kayode had abused, insulted, and disparaged everyone indiscriminately, this could be likewise said of other noteworthy politicians similar Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and Mallam Nasir El-rufai at different occasions in the yesteryear, who had vented their rage against Full general Buhari in disturbingly unprintable linguistic communication, before they also swallowed their vomit and set upwards a political company with him in the same political party.
Yet, dissimilar others, the central interrogation existence considered by many is really what value Fani-Kayode could add together to the Buhari administration at this dot, which made the red carpet to be rolled out to him as he jumped ship into the APC.
Speaking with journalists after his coming together with President Buhari, FFK said it was time for him to cross over to bring together hands with the Chief of Province in moving Nigeria forward. He added that Nigerians must remain united to save the country from the stranglehold of those bent on destroying its progress. He also advised Nigerians not to allow whatsoever individual or grouping to dissever them or enable the disintegration of the country.
As Fani-Kayode pose it: “The dot is that I felt it was time to do the right thing, to pose Nigeria first off. When the time is right, we alter direction to bring together forces and bring together hands to displace the country forward. Doing this doesn’t signify we are enemies to anybody. Fifty-fifty whether we are in some other political party, the PDP or whatsoever other political party or grouping, we can still work together across political party, regional, ethnic or devout lines.”
Sounding fairly reflective, he continued: “We must remain one as a land, and build bridges, work together to displace the country forward. The most important thing is for us to understand the fact that Nigeria must not disintegrate and those that want us to finish upwards fighting one some other in a state of war will be pose to shame.”
My take on Fani-Kayode’s defection from the PDP to APC is not so much in relation to the morality or otherwise of his carpet crossing, but the genuineness of his proclaimed political rebirth from existence a highly divisive thespian, who had championed an incendiary brand of politics anchored around ethnic and devout identification, to one promoting national unity, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
To his credit, before his eventual defection to APC, he was famous to have worked closely with some key players in the APC, including Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, in resolving some ethnoreligious conflicts in some states of the country.
I can only sincerely hope his superior angels take charge this time around, to enable the role of a existent bridge-builder rallying together many aggrieved stakeholders of the Nigeria projection to work towards the socio-economic and political stability of our land, which he is eminently qualified to play whether he is so sincerely inspired.
By the way, I learn that beyond existence Yoruba and Pentecostal Christian, FFK has Muslim and Fulani roots, and hence major traces of the Nigerian diversity, which he ought to be deeply concerned in relation to promoting our national unity in ensuring national security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of ‘A Dozen Tips for Media Relations’
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