Effervescent public commentator and former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s propagandist, Femi Fani-Kayode, who recently announced his exit from the mega opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) did not take many people by surprise.
This is because his words and actions, betraying a sudden ideological shift in favor of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration at the twilight of his stay in the opposition party, only showed that his sojourn in the APC was a matter of days.
The former Aviation Minister in Obasanjo’s administration caused a stir recently when he showed up at the Presidential villa to confer with President Jonathan whom he had criticized for non performance. His visit fueled the speculations that the former minister may be lobbying the Presidency for patronage, having been out of public office for so long.
Going by the rumour mill, Fani-Kayode may soon get appointment from the Presidency in order to justify his outburst against his erstwhile allies in the opposition.
Giving reasons for his jumping back into the ruling PDP at which he had poured enough vituperations in the recent past, the former Aviation minister accused the APC leadership of insincerity.
Though the APC, through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had disowned Fani-Kayode by saying that he never registered as a member of the party in the first place, the former minister had countered by dubbing the APC spokesman a liar.
Fani-Kayode in a recent statement said, “I have stated these facts and set the record straight – due to the fact that Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of the APC, had the effrontery to say in an interview with a magazine earlier today, that I was never a member of the APC and that I never joined them formally. The truth is that Mohammed is not only a liar but he is also a coward.
“I cannot remain in a party where a handful of people that have sympathies for Boko Haram and that have a clear Islamic agenda are playing a leading role. This is made all the more untenable when some of those people are working hard silently and behind the scenes to impose a Muslim/Muslim ticket on the party for the Presidential elections next year.
“I cannot be in a party where a few of its leaders are more interested in playing politics with the whole Chibok issue and hurling bricks at our military for not doing a better job. I cannot be in a party in which the role of one of its governors is not clear on the Chibok issue.”
But pundits are quick to point out that the return of the former minister to the PDP he once described as a sinking ship, is the height of political inconsistencies and has gone to show that most politicians in the country do not identify with an ideology for too long. Fani-Kayode’s return to the ruling party, which he had severally maligned in the recent past, ostensibly for a mesh of porridge as argued in some quarters, only portrays him as a leader who finds no fuss in returning to his vomit.
Fani-Kayode, on leaving the PDP sometimes ago, had described it a sinking ship but his recent volte face could only be compared to the proverbial dog returning to its vomit. This is because, though there have been certain improvements in the ruling party in the recent past, most of those malaise he complained about in the party have yet to be addressed.
Not too long ago, the former Minister said “I think it is self evident. If you look at what has been happening in the last four years, compare it with the previous four years, that is between 1999 and 2007, look at the record of the government that we have today, look at their so called achievements, the structures within the party in terms of internal democracy, look at the acrimony. Look at the way in which the government that we have today at the Federal level is conducting itself and look at the way in which the founding fathers of the party, that built it up into the formidable machine that it was have more or less been treated in a very uncomplimentary manner, relegated, treated with contempt and so on and so forth. I am talking of people that were there, some of them are no longer there, some
are not being taken seriously. And I think you need the input of people like former President Obasanjo and so many others to keep the party on line as far as I am concerned.”
Speaking further, the former Minister pointed out that “I feel that people like him (Obasanjo) and others have not been able to steer the party like it should be steered because those that are in control do not want it to be steered in the right way and each time anybody criticizes them or tries to set things straight or tries to make an input, one is subjected to all sorts of rancour and insults and persecution. So I think this is the time for some of us to take the bold step and say listen, if you want to criticise, if you want to fight the government of PDP, you cannot do it from within. For the past 4 years, I have been fighting from within.
Probably I have been more critical of this government than any other person. Since Yar’Adua came in, if you look at all my articles, my write ups have been very consistent. All along, despite the fact that I was in the PDP, I kept saying we need good governance, we need to do better.
I feel that it is the time to take the next logical step and really begin to take them on and find find some of my soul mates who left long ago and are very happy where they are. People like Nuhu Ribadu and so many others.”
“I am saying that in terms of what a political party ought to be, the PDP has not done as well as it should do and as far as I am concerned, I feel it is wrong for me to stay within the ranks of the PDP and continue to criticize them. We have tried to reform it from within. We set up a Reform Committee and we used to have meetings with the committee chaired by Chief Raymond Dokpesi, with people like Professor Nwosu, the former Minister, Chief Sekibo, the former Minister, Nasir el-Rufai, Akin Osuntokun and so many others like that. We tried our very best, we did the honourable, but it didn’t work. So its time for us to move on to join forces with progressives. Nigeria needs change and I believe the APC can bring the change that is desperately needed.”
But the pertinent question here is whether those Fani-Kayode considered as progressives, including his friends, Nasir El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu, whom he spoke loftily about before joining the APC, are longer in that party. In one breath, he described the henchmen of the opposition as incurable patriots who are well honed to take the country out of the doldrums and in another, he labelled them religious bigots. This smacks of double speak and inconsistencies that are not supposed to be in the character of a serious leader.
Although Fani-Kayode based his decision to leave the APC on the alibi that the opposition was proposing a Muslim/Muslim Presidential ticket ahead of the 2015 Presidential election, many political watchers are of the opinion that such could be a mere smokescreen as they posit that his realization that he may not be able to realize his political ambition in the leadership of the party was really the reason he dumped the APC.
Some have pointed out that the former minister was a mole planted in the opposition to destabilize it and that he pulled out only when he had completed his assignments.
But Fani-Kayode’s exit from the mega opposition ought to have tutored the APC leadership on the need to be circumspect in admitting politicians into their folds. The budding opposition should learn from its arch rival, the PDP, on how to manage certain personalities who could only be described as the bull in the China shop. The opposition, in its crave for membership drive, should scrutinize its membership because, as presently constituted, many other politicians like Fani-Kayode would soon dump the party ahead of 2015 general elections and this can be calamitous.
Managing dissensions, harmonizing diverse opinions and ideas, aggregating views and standpoints with a view to getting consensus are the hallmarks of a good party leadership. The opposition APC can rarely claim to be different from the ruling party if it fails to rein-in its dissenting members and resolve contentious issues before they degenerate.
Although the former minister’s political influence can be discountenanced because he belongs to the elites with little or no influence at the grassroots, his clout among his elite class cannot be underestimated. But his latest action of dumping a party he gleefully described as messianic only portrays him as an inconsistent leader whose sense of judgement must be well appraised at all times.