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LongRead… Femi Fani-Kayode: Tales of the ‘smart boy who sings and dances if food is served’

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Very few Nigerians would have been surprised with the defection of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, aka FFK, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday, September 16.

In fact, to many, his defection was a foregone conclusion as his recent activities had shown that he was only a member of the PDP just in name, while his spirit and soul was already in the APC.

It was just a matter of when he would conclude the formalities for an official cross-carpeting after he had hobnobbed with members of the APC at top levels, including his new best friend, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, who had told Nigerians that it was a matter of time before Fani-Kayode moved to the ruling party.

As much as he had denied ever habouring the idea of defecting to the APC, even swearing on his late father’s grave that he would rather die than join the APC, FFK’s defection has, once again, thrown into light the fickle mindedness of Nigerian politicians who are all about what they stand to gain and not what the masses will benefit from.

“I would rather die than join a filthy, rat-infested sinking ship like the Almajiri Peoples Congress (APC)”, he had said at various times.

Commenting on some PDP members like Musiliu Obanikoro and Iyiola Omisore who had decamped to the APC in the heat of their travails with the Economic and Crimes Commission (EFCC), Fani-Kayode had written on Twitter:
“I am not surprised that @MObanikoro and @iyiomisore have got their passports back from the EFCC and are now in America. I do not blame them for joining the ruling party to avoid persecution. Some are strong whilst others are weak. I would rather die than join APC or bow to Buhari.

“We must stay strong and focused and refuse to be distracted. We must enthrone justice, fair play and equal opportunities for every Nigerian regardless of his faith, ethnic nationality or circumstances of birth. Ours is to speak for the weak, the poor, the voiceless and the oppressed.”

But what many Nigerians have been wondering since the news of Fani-Kayode’s defection broke is how he will fit into a party he had dissipated so much energy in castigating and calling all sorts of names.

There was no name he had not called President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the APC while he was in the comfort of the PDP. But like the typical Nigerian politician he is, all the name calling would become a thing of the past as exemplified with the warm welcome he received from Buhari himself.

Shortly after leaving Aso Rock, Fani-Kayode took to his Facebook page to write:
“Today, I came to the State House, Abuja, to see the most respected president in the world and father of modern Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason why Nigeria is fast developing in infrastructure and unity. He received me warmly. God bless Buhari.”

Speaking on a television programme shortly after the defection, Fani-Kayode unequivocally said he joined APC to “achieve unity, peace and togetherness in Nigeria.”

When he was asked by the anchor to comment on statements he made in 2015 against Buhari, FFK said:

“There is a time to condemn and criticise people. There is also a time to come together, work together to achieve unity.
“Joining APC now is the way forward, despite what people may think about it. APC is a liberal party. A lot has happened in APC over the years. The party has changed and President has accommodated the change. Had the APC leadership not changed, I wouldn’t have joined them.”

“I am doing the right thing based on conviction and understanding. This is the right decision for me, love me or hate me, it will not take anything away from me.
“Back then, I spoke against Buhari from the outside; now I know him from the inside. I am not saying he is an angel or a demon. The APC I was talking about that time is not same today. Let’s focus on unity, peace and togetherness.
“I am not the first to defect from a political party. Do all other defectors take back what they say? Now is a time to work with Buhari to move the nation forward,” he added.

His vitriolic attacks on the APC and its members have become legendary; his constant abuse, rabid insults and the invectives he threw at them at regular intervals while he was on the other side of the divide, would now look like a desperate cry for the attention he always craved for.

The defection of the former spokesman to President Olusegun Obasanjo, also justifies what his former principal had said about him being a bread and butter politician who dances to the dictates of the piper as long as he gets what he wants, which are most times, pecuniary.

Obasanjo had, in 2015, said:
“Femi Fani-Kayode is my boy. Provide him food, he will eat and then sing for you. He’s a smart boy.”

With such a damning description from a man who knew and worked with him closely, and with his antecedents, it is then not surprising that he has lived up to the tag of being a fair weather politician.

However, beyond the intrigues of his return to the ruling party, Fani-Kayode has been one political figure who thrives in controversies, so much so that most Nigerians consider him a political prostitute which seems to have become part of his generic character.

But FFK wears the garb of controversies as a second skin and seems not to be shaken by any of them as his acerbic and caustic tongue will always rise up to tear down anyone who dares to raise an eyebrow. He always has a way of coming back smoking at his critics.

Just as he has been consistent on the political front, Femi Fani-Kayode has also been unswerving in courting polemics which, many believe, have become his hallmark, no matter how unpalatable many of them have turned out to be.

Beginning from his sordid kiss-and-tell story of how he once dated and impregnated former beauty queen and wife of the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, to his famous clash with a Nigerian journalist where he made the whole world know he is a man on a short fuse, to identifying the now vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, as a Jezebel during the US electioneering campaign, Femi Fani-Kayode has had them all.

Here is a rundown of the most controversial moments of Fani-Kayode.

FFK vs Bianca kiss-and-tell (September, 2013)

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Bianca Ojukwu

In September 2013, Femi Fani-Kayode stirred the hornet’s nest when he fired the first salvo by admitting publicly, via an article, that he had once dated the then Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Bianca Ojukwu, the widow of the late Biafran warlord, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu.

He went on to reveal details of his past private relationship with Bianca which, according to him, almost led to marriage but for his getting another lady, Saratu Attah, the daughter of the Alhaji Adamu Attah, the second republic governor of Kwara State, pregnant.

He narrated how Bianca became pregnant for him at a point in their relationship and had to abort the baby.

In the article entitled “A Word For Those That Call Me A Tribalist,” Fani-Kayode revealed that he once had a “long-standing and intimate relationship” with Bianca Ojukwu.

That expose did not sit well with Bianca and many Igbos who vowed to deal with him for desecrating the revered name of Ojukwu.

Bianca would not take the revelation lying low and threatened to sue FFK for tarnishing her image, which led to him tendering an apology which she deemed not satisfactory and had her lawyers firing him a notice to withdraw the claims that he had intimate relations with her several years before then.

But after receiving the legal threats, Fani-Kayode went on to issue an apology, and promptly removed the word “intimate” in a new version of the article which was published in different newspapers.

However, Mrs. Ojukwu rejected the apologies, claiming they were not sufficient, and thereafter threatened to institute a lawsuit to seek redress.

But in his characteristic cantankerous manner, Fani-Kayode issued a statement daring Bianca to take the matter before the courts, vowing to reveal more “intimate details of their past dalliance.”

In the statement signed by his special assistant, FFK threatened to expose the Ambassador and put the details of their past relationship in the public domain.

Part of the statement read:
“We really do wonder what Mrs. Ojukwu really wants from Chief Fani-Kayode and what her agenda really is. Throughout this matter, Chief Fani-Kayode has chosen the path of peace and has attempted to avoid an ugly and public quarrel with Bianca Ojukwu out of respect to the memory of her late father Chief C.C. Onoh and the memory of her late husband, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

“Consequently, he has publicly apologised to her and the two other Igbo ladies that he mentioned in the said article (namely Miss Chioma Ansoh and Miss Adaobi Ucgegbu) on two separate occassions, in three separate national newspapers and online.

“It is clear that Bianca Ojukwu is desperate to go to war over this issue and to cover up the truth about their past. It is also clear that she has constituted herself into the arrowhead of a group of people that are determined to use her and this whole unsavoury episode to attempt to distract attention from the wider and more important issues raised in the essay and to discredit him.

“Since that is the case, we welcome whatever action Ojukwu wishes to take in court and we shall gladly meet her there. We will also be instigating our own legal proceedings against her in due course for her barefaced and malicious lies and her consistent claim that she has never met Chief Fani-Kayode all in an attempt to libel, defame, diminish and discredit him before the entire world.

“Finally, let it be clearly understood that at no point did Chief Fani-Kayode lie about the nature of his relationship with Ojukwu. However, he did not feel that it was appropriate or necessary to share the details of that relationship with the public because he felt that such matters were strictly private.”

Attacks on Buhari (2015)

As the Media Director of the Goodluck Jonathan/Namadi Sambo campaign train in 2015, Femi Fani-Kayode was vociferous in his condemnation and attacks on the then candidate of the APC, Muhammadu Buhari, whom, at various times, he had maligned and called all sorts of vile and despicable names.

In an interview on Channels TV in February of that year, shortly before the presidential elections, he had vowed to expose the then APC candidate for who he was and the dangers he portended for Nigeria if he got elected.
“It is our full intention to expose General Muhammadu Buhari for what he really is, what he stands for and the great danger that his candidacy portends for the unity of the Nigerian state and the peace and well-being of the Nigerian people,” he had said.
“We believe that we have reached a crossroads in our nation’s history and that the forthcoming Presidential election is a battle for the very soul and destiny of Nigeria.

“We believe that General Buhari represents the darkness and that President Jonathan represents the light. We believe that General Buhari represents a return to an ugly past, which is best forgotten, while President Jonathan represents our hope for a greater and better future.
“We believe that the APC, on which platform General Buhari is contesting the presidential election, represents everything that is unholy and unwholesome in our society and that the PDP represents all that is decent and good.
“If you want a positive change, you cannot expect to get it from a man like General Buhari whose democratic credentials are questionable and whose record in public office is shameful and disastrous.
“Most people have chosen to ignore the number of things that General Buhari has said and the number of things that he has done over the last few months and years that have brought carnage, division and strife in our society and that prove that he is not the sort of person that can be trusted with power.
“It is our intention to bring those things to the attention of the Nigerian people so that they can make an informed choice.”

Swipes on Buhari (2018)

Before returning to the APC, a party he once tagged as “a party populated by killers”, Femi Fani-Kayode, had taken it upon himself to be the tormentor in chief of President Buhari, attacking and throwing insults at the president at regular intervals.

In 2018, in an interview, he had said that Buhari “thrives on destroying the reputation” of those who oppose him and the APC. The former minister had gone further to describe Buhari as a man who “thrives on propaganda and lies.”

On other occasions, he had thrown jibes at the president, including labeling him as the biblical “Herod, Pharaoh and Sennacherib,” who would end up in absolute shame because he (Buhari), “has carried out more corrupt practices than any other leader in the history of Nigeria.”

He also said that Buhari was a “pernicious liar, a loud-mouthed hypocrite and a schoolyard bully.
“You are nothing but a pernicious liar, a loud-mouthed hypocrite and a schoolyard bully. No-one has looted as much money, inflicted as much pain and shed as much innocent blood as you,” he said in 2018.

More swipes…2020

During the #EndSars protests in October 2020, Fani-Kayode called Buhari a monster and a dictator who “sucked on the blood of Nigerians,” after the president made a speech addressing the protesters as terrorists who wanted to overthrow his government.

“Buhari’s speech was an insult to our people, a disgrace to humanity and a stench in the nostrils of God. He is not a President, he is a dictator. He is not a man, he is a monster and a dictator who sucks on the blood of Nigerians,” he said.

In the same breathe, he called the President a “cruel, empathetic and sociopathic leader who is not warm, but cold.”
“He is not kind, he is cruel. He is not empathetic, he is sociopathic” who was responsible for genocide, he said.

“Hundreds of people are being slaughtered every day and genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder are alive and well in our shores and someone is telling us not to attack the man that is responsible for it by his actions and inactions?” he added.

Attacks, curses on Femi Adesina (2020)
By January, 2020, it was the turn of the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, to have a taste of the acidic tongue of Femi Fani-Kayode as the former minister described the presidential spokesman as a “desperate and insensitive clown who is simply trying to hang on to his job.”

Adesina had, in his Facebook column, ‘From the Inside,’ penned an article where he said that “Nigerians should be thankful that bombing has reduced.”

But while reacting to the article, FFK noted that the Presidential aide spoke like “a true sociopath”, who has “no empathy for people’s suffering, no compassion, no decency, no decorum and no class.”

In a series of tweets, the former minister rained curses on Adesina, and accused him of “selling his soul to the devil,” adding that the President’s spokesman had opted to tread the dark path.

“Do you have to mock Nigerians like this and serve Buhari even at the expense of your self-respect, honor, dignity, reputation, family name and the cost of their lives?
“A few months ago, you said that we should give up our land to the barbaric & bloodthirsty terrorist Fulani herdsmen or instead, give up our lives and now you say this. You are a sick man, Femi. Depraved and degraded in every sense and way and you are clearly suffering from what is known in biblical terms as a ‘Demastic’ anointing. You remember Demas in the Bible?
“That is who you are: you have sold your soul to the devil, turned your back on the path of light, abandoned the gospel, insulted & betrayed your elders & betters in the faith, sold your heritage for a pottage like Esau, fallen in love with the things of the world & opted to tread the dark path.
“You were once a profoundly good man but your love and slavish devotion to your boss and the demons that have seized your mind, body, spirit and soul have utterly destroyed you. You have made your choice and you will live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of your life but meanwhile, hear the following & hear it well.

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“Whether Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen blow us up with bombs, behead us, cut us to pieces with their machetes, knives and cutlasses or shoot us in the back of the head with their AK 47s, it makes no difference because, as the Ghanaians say, ‘all die be die’.
“BH & Fulani have collectively slaughtered more Nigerians in the last four years than at any other time in our history. They are slaughtering us like flies every day and the best you can do is to mock us and say this?
“You deserve the worse form of divine judgment for your beastly and callous mockery of the Nigerian people. You are a dark, depraved, pernicious, specious and wicked soul who deserves no peace and the blood of all those that have been murdered by these deviant miscreants and demons from hell shall speak against you!
“The God of Heaven, the Ancient of Days, the Lord of Hosts & the Lion of the Tribe of Judah will surely judge both you & the government that you serve for your obvious collusion with the forces of darkness that have plagued our people and butchered them callously and relentlessly for the last 4 years!”

War with Isah Pantami (2021)

Before his fence-mending with Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami, at the wedding of Buhari’s son, Yusuf, in Kano, Femi Fani-Kayode had been on the war path with serving Minister whom he had described as a “cold blooded beast.”

Following the emergence of videos where Pantami was revealed as an avowed sympathizer of global terrorists groups, FFK had come out with blazing guns and fired an article full of vituperations and frontal attacks aimed at the Minister.

“I considered giving Pantami a soft landing a few days ago and opted to forgive him for his offensive, dangerous and repugnant vituperations only because he had publicly expressed his regrets, but this is no longer the case because his expression of remorse was clearly not genuine or heart-felt.
“For him to publicly express the fact that he is “happy” when those he described as “unbelievers” are murdered, reflects his homicidal, sociopathic and psychotic mind-set and is not only indefensible but also unforgivable.
“And there is so much more that he has said and done, including his alleged participation in a frightful event in Bauchi State a few years ago, which allegedly resulted in the tragic death of a young Christian student and which I will write about at a later stage.
“Simply put, the Minister is a hater of Christians and non-Muslims. He is a religious bigot, an ethnic supremacist, an unrepentant Jihadist, a lover of bloodshed, carnage and terror and a psychopathic and clearly insane individual who may well have been responsible for the slaughter of many innocent Christians over the years as a consequence of his inflammatory rhetoric and reckless actions.
“This self-seeking and fanatical monster and cold-blooded and heartless beast who regards himself as a high standing member of our community and who constantly and disrespectfully refers to Christians as “unbelievers” should be arrested by the authorities like a common criminal, stripped naked, put in chains, placed in a tiny monkey cage, paraded before the public, tried in a court of law and made to spend the rest of his sorry life in that facility for his undying and remorseless support and love for terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

But on August 21, 2021, when photos of himself and the same Pantami emerged during the wedding, and Nigerians dragged him over them, FFK was quick to go on the offensive by saying he had become friends with a man he had called a ‘sociopathic Jihadist’ a few months earlier.

Trying hard to justify his new standing, he said his faith has taught him to be at peace with as many people as possible, especially those who have expressed regrets over their past misdeeds.

“You see, my faith teaches me to forgive those that express regrets about their past actions and utterances and to be at peace with as many people as possible. It also teaches me to shake a hand when it is extended to me in friendship.
“The bottom line is as follows: you can do and say your worse. You can vent until you wee in your pants. You can wail until you defecate in your trousers. You can scream and shout from morning till nigh. You can be friends with your political adversary and still disagree.”

The ever brash and impetuous FFK went on to harangue Nigerians for daring to question his motives in mending fences with Pantami.
“I offer no apology or explanation and I need no validation from you. You either trust my judgment or you do not and either way, I do not care. You can scream and shout from morning till night. You can foam in the mouth for all I care.
“It does not move me and it changes nothing: though we may not agree on everything, Isah and I are now friends and we will remain friends. Live with it or die with it.
“If most of you had 10% of my courage and foresight, Nigeria would be a far better place. History will vindicate me and posterity will judge us all.
“You do not know what I know and you do not see what I see. You assume the worse because you are the worse.
“Whatever you choose to say or do, I don’t care. All I know is that I will never prostitute my principles or compromise my stance on fundamental issues and I will disagree with those that I choose to disagree with, but I will never be driven by hate or be deaf, dumb and blind to reason.”

FFK’s romance with Yahaya Bello (2021)
The defection of FFK from the PDP to the APC became the worst kept secret in Nigeria’s political annals when he began a ‘lovey-dovey’ relationship with Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello in April, 2021.

Before the romance between FFK and Bello, the Kogi Governor had also been a recipient of the ex-minister’s venom and spleen, often getting attacked and called disparaging names.

A point in case was after Bello made a statement that he would jump into a fire because of Buhari:
“If President Buhari asks me to jump into the fire, I will not hesitate to jump into it,” Bello had said.

Reacting to the statement, Fani-Kayode had taken to his Twitter handle to write:
“When I wrote that this boy was a useful idiot and an accursed slave, some said I was being harsh. Truth is that he is even worse than that. His mental faculties are non-functional.”

The affinity started early in April when Fani-Kayode met with Bello and the APC Interim Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, in one of his much touted tour of states to, according to him, “build bridges.”

After the visit to Kogi, Bello also reciprocated by visiting FFK in his Abuja home and the former minister wrote of the visit:
“It was an honour and pleasure to receive His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State in my Abuja home. We had a wonderful time and my entire household was thrilled by his presence. We shall continue to build bridges and to work hard and interact across party lines, for the unity and progress of our country.”

On his part, Bello told Nigerians that Fani-Kayode had secretly approached him on his planned defection to the APC, and that in his eyes, FFK was already an APC member.

In a video shot during an APC event in Kogi, Bello said the defection of the then PDP stalwart was one of his achievements as the head of the youth mobilisation committee for the party’s membership registration and revalidation.

“Our brother and friend, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has joined our party in good faith. He is joining our party to come and add his own positive energy and make contributions to ensuring that APC is a party to beat.
“Remember, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is a foundation member of the All Progressives Congress… Now he has decided to join our party, approached me and by the mandate given to me by our party, I must not segregate,” the governor had said.

The man Femi Fani-Kayode

Born David Oluwafemi Adewunmi Abdulateef Fani-Kayode on October, 16, 1960, the man fondly called FFK is one enigmatic politician who has become a study in inconsistency and contradiction.

Although his family lineage originates from the Ile-Ife royal house in Osun State, he was born in Lagos, to late Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode and Chief (Mrs) Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode.

FFK was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006, before he was appointed the Minister of Culture and Tourism, June to November, 2006, and as the Minister of Aviation from 2006 to 2007.

His great-grandfather, the Rev. Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode, was one of the earliest Nigerians to be educated in England, receiving an MA from the University of Durham, after which he became an Anglican priest.

His grandfather, Victor Adedapo Kayode, studied law at Cambridge University and became a lawyer and a judge while his father, who also studied at Cambridge, was a prominent lawyer and political figure in Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s.

FFK started his education at the age of eight at Brighton College, in the UK, after which he went to Holmewood House School in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, South-East England.

He entered Harrow School in Harrow on the Hill, United Kingdom, and later gained admission into Kelly College in Tavistock, UK, where he completed the rest of his public school education.

In 1980, Femi Fani-Kayode went to the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies where he graduated with an LL.B law degree in 1983.

He entered Cambridge University (Pembroke College) where his grandfather (Selwyn College), his father (Downing College) and his older brother, Akinola (Downing College) had all previously read law.

After finishing from Cambridge, FFK went to the Nigerian Law School and in 1985, was called to the Nigerian Bar.

In 1993, under the tutelage of Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams of Ghana, he became a Pentecostal Christian and decided to go back to school to study theology at the Christian Action Faith Bible Seminary in Accra, Ghana, gaining a diploma in theology in 1995.

Femi Fani-Kayode was a member of the Nigerian National Congress (NNC) in 1989. He was elected the national youth leader of NNC that same year and by 1990, he was appointed as Chief Press Secretary to Chief Tom Ikimi, the first national chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and in 1991, as Special Assistant to Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, former head of the Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO).

In 1996, disturbed by the actions of Gen. Sani Abacha’s military junta, Femi Fani-Kayode left Nigeria and joined the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) abroad where, together with the likes of the Oxford University-trained lawyer Chief Tunde Edu and others, he played a very active role in the fight against Abacha.

He came back to Nigeria in 2001 and met President Olusegun Obasanjo. At the beginning of 2003, Femi Fani-Kayode was appointed by the President as a member of his presidential campaign team for the 2003 presidential election.

After President Obasanjo won that election, Femi Fani-Kayode was appointed as the first ever Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

FFK has had his own fair share of brushes with the law as he was arrested and charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in July 2008, in connection with an alleged misappropriation of a N19.5 billion ‘Aviation Intervention Fund,’ though he was later acquitted and no incriminating evidence was found against him.

The Senate Committee on Aviation had, in early 2008, initially recommended that Fani-Kayode be banned from holding public office for five years but later withdrew the request.

In December 2008, he was again arrested by the EFCC and charged with 47 counts of money laundering. Fani-Kayode stated that he was innocent and that the monies were funds received from his own private businesses and legitimate sources and had nothing to do with government funds.

He said that his investigation by the Yar’Adua government and the EFCC were politically motivated, and he was being persecuted in the same way as other colleagues from the Obasanjo government, such as Nasir el-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu, for their ties to President Obasanjo.

He was, however, discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on counts of money laundering preferred against him by the EFCC after the court held that the anti-graft agency was unable to prove the charges against him beyond reasonable doubt.

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