Nigeria: Fani-Kayode: The New Yoruba Spokesman?
By Oguwike Nwachuku
I have refrained from ventilating my views in writing on the now controversial relocation saga some people prefer to call “deportation” of Igbo indigenes resident in Lagos by the state government.
To say that I have read so many pieces on the matter the way I have been engaged in numerous telephone conversations with highly respected people of Igbo and non-Igbo extraction is to say the least. As I write, I can remember the passion with which some Igbo men, including the former spokesman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Joe Igbokwe, and former aide to Senator Chris Ngige as Anambra State governor, Fred Chukwuelobe, attacked the issue. Numerous others also followed the line of argument of Joe and Fred, but never insulted the Yoruba as a people.
From all the shades of responsible views so far canvassed, I could draw one big lesson – the willingness of the people to live together, commitment to a better society and mutual respect for one another. Around these variables are located the tempers that have risen and all the explanations that have attended the action of the Lagos State government. Needless to say that the state government is working with/on all the reasonable views concerning the matter, and soon, the issue would become history.
However, my worry is that of late, views from quarters least expected have emerged to exacerbate the already controversial and inflamed subject begging for solution.
Agents and apostles of ethnicity and tribalism, hatred, demonisation, divisiveness and other negative tendencies have entered into the fray and are beginning to cry more than the bereaved.
True to their style and type, they would start out wearing the toga of nationalists and patriots, statesmen and do-gooders of Nigeria, but by the time they are delivered of whatever views they are pregnant with, their true colour surfaces.
One man whose contribution to the debate has presented a nauseating picture is former Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. His name is Chief Femi Fani-Kayode.
Ordinarily, when a man of such social status speaks – a former Tourism and Culture as well as Aviation Minister – his views should be respected because of the wise counsel they would be laced with. But alas, you are damn wrong.
Reading through his submission on Sahara Reporters in an article entitled: ‘A Word For Those That Call Me A Tribalist’, I was amazed as to what Fani-Kayode’s intuition could offer him now despite gloating over historical facts he said were available to him which makes one wonder if historical archives are open to him alone.
By the way, I do not intend to go into the gamut of the self-praise piece by Fani-Kayode where he assumed the status of both a Mr. Know All, a conqueror and super human being. Being full of himself while he wrote, he slid to the level where fantasy and hallucination got the better part of him and before you say Jack Robinson, he ridiculously started reeling out the names of Igbo ladies he probably slept with (only men who need psychiatric assistance can waste such precious time on how they perused the anatomy of the female homosapiens). My concern, really, is that Fani-Kayode simply set out to use the opportunity provided by the current relocation saga to denigrate and disparage the Igbo.
For the avoidance of doubt, I have reproduced part of the rubbish he wrote and was posted on August 13, 2013 on Sahara Reporters:
“Meanwhile I have read all sorts of strange submissions in various newspapers and blogs that have held themselves out as rejoinders to my two articles titled ‘Lagos, The Igbo and the Servants Of Truth’ and ‘The Bitter Truth About The Igbo’. Sadly other than the usual abuse and ungodly clap-trap, not one of them has been able to address ANY of the issues that I raised in either of the two articles, answer any of the questions that I posed in them or successfully challenge my presentation of historical facts.
“The bellicose nature and sheer crassness of these so-called rejoinders go to prove two things. Firstly that those that I have described as being collectively unlettered, uncouth, uncultured, unrestrained and crude in all their ways really are all those things and a lot more, and secondly that they cannot put up any reasonable or serious argument to discredit or refute the message. So instead, they are attempting to destroy the messenger. Meanwhile, the two essays have been published in various newspapers in our country and outside and it will continue to be published by others long into the foreseeable future.
“The message is clear and it is already out there. It cannot be called back in. The horse has bolted from the stable and the falcon has left the nest. No matter how hard those that are attempting to intimidate us into silence may try, it will not work and we will not be cowed. The message is already out there and the genie is already out of the bottle. Those that seek to continue to denigrate and belittle the Yoruba and lay claim to what is rightfully ours should desist from doing so. They should grant us our peace and give us our due respect and they will get the same in return. If they do not, those things will elude them and eventually history will repeat itself in this country.
“Meanwhile, when anyone reads a rejoinder that addresses the issues that I raised in my essays and that has some level of scholarship and intellectual content, they should please let me know and I may well dignify it with a response. The shameless and emotional thrash and disjointed verbiage that have been described as rejoinders so far are just not up to scratch. They are bereft of any scholarship and intellectual content. They also invoke pity in me for the faceless Plebians that wrote them and those they claim to be speaking for. When the Igbo, or anyone else, find a real champion that can cross swords with me and give me a good run for my money, someone should please let me know. I am itching for a real debate with a worthy adversary on this issue.
“Like the great Achilles, I feel that I have no match. Are there no Hector’s out there? Sadly it appears that my accusers, traducers, opposers and haters cannot find one. All they have is their hate, their ignorance, their insults and their inbred crudity and vulgarity.”
The above excerpt speaks volume of the character of the man called Fani-Kayode.
It is not my intention to join issues with him or rejoin him based on his own craving, given that where I come from, it is said that “a tree does not wither immediately it is cut.” At the appropriate time, he would get the right response befitting an irascible lion with all its gloating tendencies. As a horse that has bolted from the stable or falcon escaping from the net who, on his own, is desiring a champion from Ndigbo to cross swords with him and deluding himself that he has no match, does wise counsel not tell us that the reason cocoyam leaf cries is because somebody has touched it? Discerning minds would always know when nature is at work and when forces beyond the comprehension of acclaimed super human beings like Fani-Kayode are playing tricks on people. Having elected to cook for the entire Ndigbo, I am sure the people will consume whatever food Fani-Kayode presents before them. I have my doubt if he as an individual can consume the food the entire Ndigbo can elect to cook for him.
It is important to note that Fani-Kayode’s jaundiced view about a people does not represent the view of the Yoruba he claims to be espousing. No, never will Fani-Kayode qualify to speak for the Yoruba, no matter how hard he tries. For one thing, well-educated, well-trained, and well-mannered Yoruba people known to us and whose views are respected across the length and breadth of the country cannot speak the way Fani-Kayode does, whether for now or after.
Therefore, readers should be content with the fact that Fani-Kayode is currently fighting a battle of survival. It is not a battle of what to eat or drink, battle of where to live or battle of means of transportation and as he rightly boasted, there is no Igbo person for now to give him a run for his money, but he knows he is fighting a huge battle to extricate himself from the mess that characterised his outing as a government official for which he found himself in the net of the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC). Perhaps, he should be reminded that the falcon has not really left that net.
The basketmouth of former President Obasanjo is aware that the battle to untangle himself from the apron of alleged huge corruption while in office, levelled against him by the EFCC, is not one that respects his degree from Cambridge , an institution where those who attended it are supposed to ooze an aura of respectability.
I should have known that no human being, no matter how powerful or invincible, no matter how discerning with such debt of distraction which Fani-Kayode is carrying after going into government, will be in a good state of mind to write meaningfully or constructively on any issue, no matter how infinitesimal.
Therefore, if the sort of response Fani-Kayode is expecting from the Igbo is not coming, let him get it into his head that the Igbo understand the circumstances under which he both writes and survives today.
Is it not being said that a drowning man can clinch unto anything for survival? I would not be surprised if Fani-Kayode’s ranting is not also about the politics of his current battle of survival.
And by way of advice, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos should ignore Fani-Kayode, the now self-acclaimed spokesman of the Yoruba, because of the dangerous political dimension he had introduced into the fray. He cannot help himself, and so he is looking for those to help him at this time of need.
If anything, it should be noted that only love bonds and hate disintegrates.
Tribal sentiments, like dry weeds, can cause raging fires that may engulf a disparate people in a floundering nation and dismember them irretrievably.
The Igbo do not need any apostle to tell them that Fani-Kayode is sowing a seed of dismemberment and hate, and all men of goodwill must loathe this type of message according to him. To give heed to his line of logic will mean confirmation of the fears of Governor Fashola earlier that some people are out to play politics with the issue.
Oguwike Nwachukwu is the Editor of Sunday Independent newspaper, Nigeria.