Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
The media was awash last week with reports that Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and supposedly chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was on his way to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) . The former Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo met separately with Governors Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Malam Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who is the Acting National Chairman of the ruling party.
The APC is not a strange home to Fani- Kayode if he eventually joins them . In May 2013, he announced that he had dumped the PDP for APC, which was then at the formation stage.
In a post on his Facebook post, Fani-Kayode said he took the decision after he met with Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi (same way he is meeting Buni and Yahaya Bello now).
“I had a meeting with Gov. Kayode Fayemi afterwards and I have just publicly and formally declared for the APC,” the former minister said. “For me this is a great and historic day. Goodbye forever PDP.”
Fani- Kayode’s dalliance with the APC did not last long. In June 2014, Fani- Kayode made his way back to the PDP, the same party he had claimed he said ‘goodbye forever’ to in 2013.
It was initially rumoured that FFK, as Fani-Kayode is popularly known is contemplating joining the APC in 2019 but he said the report is nothing but falsehood.
He said, “The suggestion that I joined the APC is false and insulting. Those that are peddling this fake news should bury their heads in shame. With what we have witnessed I would rather die than join a filthy, rat-infested sinking ship like the Almajiri Peoples Congress (APC)”.
“Those that claim that I have joined them and seek to link my good name to such a bloodthirsty, blood-lusting, accursed political association of Boko Haramists, Fulani herdsmen, genocidal maniacs, ethnic cleansers, mass murderers, ethnic supremacists, religious bigots, cow-lovers and corrupt treasury looters that have brought nothing but death, division, misery, poverty, incompetence, shame and destruction to our nation and our people will burn in hell forever!”
Reacting to the latest criticisms trailing his latest move, Fani- Kayode however said his meeting with the APC leaders was not to join the party but to discuss national issues.
In a post on his official Facebook page, the former minister wrote: “Yesterday (Monday) afternoon, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of having a very productive and important meeting with the National Chairman of the APC, Governor Mai Buni of Yobe State and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State”.
“We discussed the state of the nation, pressing national issues, party politics and the way forward. These meetings are wide-ranging and ongoing and I am delighted to be involved in them. Despite the obvious benefits and wisdom in this noble initiative, it amazes me that some people should feel that it is wrong for me to sit with other leaders in the country to discuss issues which touch and concern the national cohesion, future and stability of our country.”
Fani-Kayode who stressed that the citizens must come together during this critical phase in our national life added “This is a time in which we must set all our differences aside, build bridges and come together as one lest our country drifts into fratricidal butchery and civil war”.
“It is right and proper for us to talk and to attempt to join hands across political, religious and regional lines to save Nigeria. I can and will never compromise or jettison my core fundamental principles for any reason and I stand firmly on my honestly held opinion that we need to enthrone equity, justice and fairness in this country for it to survive.”
“I also believe in restructuring the country and in a vigorous and effective fight against terrorism. The fact that I am in talks with leaders from a cross section of political parties, including the ruling party, does not in any way derogate from this and does not mean that I will ever change those views”.
A day after his face-saving denial, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, one of the APC leaders Fani-Kayode met confimed that he has joined the ruling APC.
The governor, who spoke with journalists after revalidating his APC membership said “I have the mandate to sanitize, mobilize and educate and woo Nigerians into the party, irrespective of their background”.
“Our brother, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has joined our party in good faith. He is joining our party to add his own positive energy and make a contribution to ensure that APC is a party to beat.”
However, Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has warned that admitting Femi Fani-Kayode to the APC will amount to rewarding him for all his misdemeanour against the party and its leadership.
In a statement, titled: “APC: Reminder about our values,” Lukman noted that said President Muhammadu Buhari would not be favourably disposed to such a move.
Speaking further, Lukman said party members have engaged the leaders of the party and insisted that the former minister is not welcome in the ruling party. He said the fact that APC was being successful was what was attracting almost everyone desirous of accessing political opportunities to join the party.
The Director General noted that for APC as a party to be debating the issue of who should join the party or not represented the qualitative difference between the APC and PDP.
He stressed that if it were PDP, once the National Chairman of the party acts on a matter and backed by a serving governor, members could only grumble.
Lukman stated: “I am proud to have my voice guaranteed and affirmed by my leaders in APC. As an employee of Governors, it has been a privileged opportunity to speak out openly on matters within the purview of leadership initiative.
“Rather than my leaders, including our Governors, relating to me as a subordinate who should only take instructions, they recognise and respect my views as a loyal member of the party. Part of the responsibility that imposes is that we should be able to speak out to protect and defend our leaders and our party.”
On the contrary, a youth group in the APC, GYB2PYB said Fani-Kayode is an asset to the APC and should be welcomed with open hands.
Its Director General, Amb. Oladele John said ““Having the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode in the APC is not only a plus, but a vivid demonstration of true commitment of the party’s leadership that the APC is home for all.”
“The desire to achieve a new Nigeria is a collective effort; as a Yoruba adage would have it, ‘a tree does not make a forest’. And for a sea to guarantee smooth sailing, proper dredging is required”.
“The APC has shown to Nigerians both home and abroad, that there is room for everyone willing to contribute meaningfully to the development of our dear nation. As the party’s mobiliser, Governor Bello has shown great capacity in a short period of time and that the confidence reposed on him by the party is worthwhile.”
An itinerant politician without a basic political ideology, Fani-Kayode’s movement from one political party to another began more than three decades ago. In 1989, he was a member of the Nigerian National Congress (NNC), and was elected its Less than a year later, in 1990, he jumped ship and joined the National Republican Convention (NRC), where he was appointed Chief Press Secretary to Chief Tom Ikimi, the NRC National Chairman.
In 1991, Femi Fani-Kayode moved again, and was made Special Assistant to Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, former head of the Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO). During the Abacha’s military junta, Femi Fani-Kayode joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), but fled the country in 1996. He came back to Nigeria in 2001 and joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and was appointed member of Obasanjo’s Presidential Campaign Team for the 2003 presidential election.
Having faced stiff opposition from APC members who said they don’t want him in their fold, it remains to be seen what Fani-Kayode’s next move will be.