December 4, 2022

Defection: How Not To Condemn FFK – LEADERSHIP NEWS

  • November 6, 2021
  • 8 min read
Defection: How Not To Condemn FFK – LEADERSHIP NEWS

Before his recent return to the party he abandoned ahead of the 2015 polls, the former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, was a thorn in the flesh of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). His twitter handle and Facebook wall once attracted hundreds of thousands of likes, shares and retweets.
For his supporters who were then scathing faultfinders of President Buhari, the former presidential aide who rose to become a minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo, FFK, as he is popularly known, was the best arrow against a government that was perceived to have fallen short of delivering its electoral promises.
Unfamiliar to many, ahead of the 2019 polls, the Osun-born lawyer and politician had been quietly relegated to the background by the top echelon of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on account of having said things that were deemed injurious to the sensibilities of the North and Muslims. His blistering denunciations of the Buhari-led administration, according to some top PDP big cats, had turned FFK into a bigot that could damage the chances of the party in 2019.
The man who is blessed with the gift of oratory and the writing almost in equal measures soon became a strong advocate for the enthronement of justice for ethnic nationalities suffering under vicious genocidal attacks unleashed by criminals and killer herdsmen. FFK wrote against what he perceived as the subjugation of the Christian North and led the charge in calling the attention of the world to the killing fields spread in various parts of the country.
He left no one in doubt that he was fiercely in favour of a Nigeria that works for all. His supporters on social media platforms increased in leaps and bounds and they felt that a day without a visit to his social media pages was akin to a day wasted.
With the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan at the 2015 polls, the man who hails from a family of reputable lawyers found time to devote his time and energy in beaming intense searchlights on various national ailments confronting his country. Due to his penetrating intellectual engagements in both traditional and social media platforms, a survey conducted by one of the nation’s leading newspapers placed him as the leading light of the opposition.
While the former minister remained unrelenting in exposing what many of his supporters loved to read, the PDP seemed enmeshed in its own crisis of recreating itself in order to wrest power from Buhari. As Nigerians prepared for yet another general election in 2019, FFK was left outside the corridors of influence. Some elements felt he had stepped on many toes through his acerbic commentaries and injured the sensibilities of Fulani and the Northern ruling cabal and could turn out a disaster if he was deployed to assist the PDP 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
In rejecting FFK to lead the propaganda brigade against the APC in 2019, the PDP only succeeded in cutting its nose to spite its face. In the absence of FFK who is a one-man information riot squad that is greatly endowed with oratorical prowess and writing skills, the engagement of many cooks by PDP to run the media campaign of Atiku turned the party into a house of discord as the various spokesmen got entangled in behind-the-scene intrigues for prominence.
When last year Fani-Kayode embarked on visits to some states to assess their performance level in delivering the dividends of democracy, the rumour mill went agog that he was planning to return to the APC. His visits to Zamfara, Cross Rivers and Bauchi, among others, according to informed observers, were clear pointers that the defection of the man whose caustic tongue was feared by his traducers was just a matter of time.
In an attempt to demonise his character, some of his critics were quick to resort to a fable quote credited to President Olusegun Obasanjo on how FFK can’t stop at nothing as long as the money was right. For those who have criticised the former minister over his defection, there is no reason to justify his action even when he clearly told a national television that his decision was taken after he was convinced of the sincerity of President Buhari in tackling many of the problems confronting Nigeria.
Reminded of his famous quote that he would rather die than return to the APC, FFK said such a disposition has expired as he was now convinced that the President is committed to the dawn of a new country.
One may not wholly subscribe to the former minister’s political actions and writings, but one need not be persuaded that he has a right to his political convictions that must be respected.  That his defection has caused a rumbling discord and anxiety in the PDP camp is not in doubt, but the main opposition party must be blamed for treating someone like FFK with levity.
 Agreed, we run a pigeonhole society that tends to judge people’s actions and decisions on preconceived templates. When people judge others from their prism, the resort to rationality becomes a fluke that has the capacity of elongating our difficulties in understanding the several curves thrown on the path of national development. Politics is about interest and not permanent friends. The Nigerian constitution grants liberty to citizens to hold political and religious beliefs without any form of molestations.
To crucify the new APC returnee on account of numerous political defections amounts to denying him his right to hold political views and to change whenever he deems so. Those who think FFK’s action is devoid of principles should ask if Nigerian politics is based on principles. How many people in politics today are playing politics on the basis of principles? It is a sheer act of wickedness to foist a particular rule on a particular person and set a different rule for another.
The search for those that can turn around the fortunes of our nation should transcend party affiliation and must not be restricted to looking out for righteous men and women.  Patriots from all party platforms must roll up their sleeves and put their hands in the plough without looking back in order to salvage our country from destructive and negative partisanship.
FFK’s courageous act of renouncing previous perceptions of what the Buhari regime once represented should be applauded and not condemned. There has been no other Nigerian, living or dead, that has written a barrage of articles against President Buhari than the former Minister. If today FFK says he is sufficiently convinced that he has seen a new light and fully persuaded to change political camp, what rights do his traducers have to go against his decision? We ought to respect Fani-Kayode’s right to change political associations as long as such serves him right. I am aware that if the gift bestowed on FFK is given to others, they will make a big kill. That they have now constituted themselves into social media nuisance aimed at pulling him down does not in any way guarantee a halo of righteousness over the worthiness of their cause.
I believe the presence of the once acerbic writer in the APC has the potential of bringing good into our national discourse. Let us exercise patience to ascertain if FFK will change tactics in the coming months. Those who think that the defection of the former minister to APC is a renunciation of his quest for a better Nigeria are too quick to throw the man under the bus.  Building bridges across ethnic and religious divides remains our biggest challenge in uniting our discordant nationhood.
It is too early in the day for some members of the APC threatening to pour into the streets if the former minister is given an appointment. An old member of the APC recently complained that he had never been invited to the presidential villa for a cup of coffee with the President, and wondered why the red carpet was rolled to the presidential mansion for FFK.
No one should be in doubt that Fani-Kayode’s defection presents a huge advantage for the APC. Having removed the shooting pin from the PDP information armoury, the ruling party now has someone who could be trusted to be committed to a cause once he believes in it. I see FFK’s defection as breaking religious and ethnic barriers in pushing a consensus for a nation that should serve the interests of all.

© 2020 Leadership Newspaper
© 2020 Leadership Newspaper
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