Nigerians have been scratching their heads to find a convincing reason why former aviation minister, scion of the high brow Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode a.k.a Fanny Power of the famed Western Nigeria, would make a 360 degrees turn around and literally eat his vomit by defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He has for many years ‘murdered’ by word of mouth President Muhammadu Buhari by raining insults on him. Words like terrorist, blood sucker, and illiterate buffoon were at hand for him.
They were direct personal attacks on the person of Mr. President. But he was not alone. Just before the historic 2015 elections, Ayodele Fayose, the loquacious then governor of Ekiti state, put out front page advertorials with images of coffins showing the dates of northern presidents that had died in office, from Abacha to Yar’Adua with a cheeky question mark on Buhari’s image? In effect, Governor Fayose, as he was, wished Buhari death in office. Aforementioned persons are the initial harbingers of hate speech that has now spread its wings far and wide giving birth to similar, latter-day characters like Nnamdi Kanu who almost hoodwinked many Nigerians into believing that President Buhari had died and ‘replaced’ with a look-alike; using his diaspora-based radio to fling mud at the personality of the president, the Nigerian government and the country in general in damning derogatory terms. Today, our country and its people are as divided as never before.
Today, a once talkative Fayose who was quick at heaping unfounded allegations and insults on the president and the first family is now slow to speak and has apparently disappeared from the media space which he once bestrode like a colossus. However, he is not known to have apologised for his past misdeeds, namely, using the gift of the garb to cause disharmony rather than harmonious co-existence. On the other hand, Femi Fani-Kayode remained as constant as the northern star, in indulging in what may be said to be his pastime of denigrating Mr. President, northerners and one of Nigeria’s major religions. And he was hailed by a legion of followers, people that think and have similar tendencies like him, that is, those filled with bile of bitterness and foaming hatred. And then after years of treading this path, FFK suddenly recants; he says he has now seen the light, so to speak, that he was wallowing in ignorance and now knows better.
He has not formally apologised for all that he mouthed in the most uncouth language in the past. But, as they say, action speaks louder than words. He now describes President Buhari, his erstwhile ‘enemy’, in flowery words, he now dines and rubs shoulders with sheikhs and other persons who in his former vituperations he would call ‘devils’, ‘jihadists’ with whom he should not mingle even with a long stick. And Mr. President, whom he ridiculed to no end previously, received him in a very warm reception at the presidential palace a.k.a. Aso Rock Villa amidst banters like a prodigal son. I believe Mr. President took to heart, Jesus’ admonition that, ‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you …”
Zamfara state governor, Muhammed Bello Matawalle, had given a similar explanation from an Islamic viewpoint. Recall that Matawalle had drawn the ire of his people last year when he welcomed Fani-Kayode at Government House while the Shinkafi Emirate in the state conferred him with the traditional title of Sadaukin Shinkafi. These outraged many of the citizens who argued that FFK was undeserving of such welcome and honour given his contempt for northerners and their religion with some Shinkafi title holders resigning in protest. However, Governor Matawalle speaking through his media aide Zailani Bappa, said that his actions were based on the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (PBOH).
Said he, “During his time the prophet was earlier hated by Meccans and was not only abused and denigrated but also molested and humiliated. He was once made to be stoned by some children at Ta’if by the leaders of the village; he once had the placenta of an animal emptied on his body as he prayed. History had it that our dear Prophet did not join the supposedly cursed persons who abused, denigrate and humiliate him. He instead prayed for them. And he called them to the right path. His passionate and transparent attitude cajoled most of them to his side over time. And even when he finally triumphed over them as he entered the city of Makka with dignity, he pardoned all of them. In Madina he will host visiting ‘Christians’ who came to ‘disgrace’ amongst his people. He will invite Jews to his abode and host them to excellent reception even as they plotted to kill him”.
The governor also cited the example of Sir Ahmadu Bello late Premier of northern Nigeria. According to Matawalle, the Daily Times of old, Nigeria’s premier newspaper at the time “was vehemently portraying the North in bad light, that time in the 60s when it used to say all those unprintable things about the North and its peoples; Sir Ahmadu Bello (of blessed memory), did not join them by ordering the Nigerian Citizen newspaper to attack back. Instead he invited the Editor of the Daily Times, Peter Enahoro, to visit the North.
After he answered the call and was taken around the zone, the paper’s narrative completely changed because he saw a people different from the stereotyped tribes he has been abusing on daily basis”. The Zamfara state chief executive said that it was on aforementioned bases that he took in FFK – apparently to educate him on the subject matters of his caustic tongue. He seemed to have succeeded somehow because FFk appeared to tone down his fiery rhetoric on the matters thereafter. He was in attendance at the high profile wedding ceremonies of Buhari’s son in Kano and he is now ‘frolicking’ with poeple whom he viewed previously with a malicious eye. He has now dug into his roots and tells us something to the effect that he has some Muslim blood in him because his maternal grandmother professed the faith.
I have only looked at this matter from the personal level; the institutional level of FFK cross carpeting from a seemingly conservative PDP which is apparently in tune with his elitist background to one that is progressive and pro masses (talakawas) on paper and does not seemingly fit his bill is another matter altogether. Recall that FFK had once before decamped to the APC. He was there for only a few weeks before jumping ship back to the PDP, apparently found the APC company uncomfortable somehow. There are in fact no clear ideologies between the APC and PDP… Thus whether Femi Fani-Kayode wants to genuinely reconcile with those he had vilified by retracing his steps in thoughts, words and action would depend on his conduct henceforth. That would determine whether he has ‘repented’ of his personal wrongs against them or whether his current dispositions are borne of mercantilistic undertones.
No matter what, FFK should imbibe the culture of respecting everyone irrespective of their gender, tribe, religion, colour or occupation; he should view everyone as a creature of the Almighty as himself and as fellow pilgrims on earth rather than contemptuously looking down on them in vainglorious superciliousness.
Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519