Of barber’s chair and ‘silly doves’ in Nigeria’s politics
The barber’s chair is never stationary. It swirls. A silly dove flies aimlessly to wherever and anywhere that catches its fancy. The holy book described one Ephraim as a “silly dove”. That particular character was notorious for doing silly things. He was always out of his mind. The man was described as a “cake not turned.” He delighted in joining himself to “idols” and a pronouncement came against him that “he must be left alone.”
Like a silly dove, many Nigerian politicians are restless; like a rolling stone, they gather no moss.
The Ephraim in the anecdote, like a silly dove without heart; “he flies to Egypt and then goes to Assyria.”
Those who knew the type of relationship that existed between the Israel of old and the two nations, can attest to the negative implications of that mindless intermingling.
The Nigerian brand of politics harbours too many “silly doves” that fly to wherever they see any prospect of having free meal.
Like the dog that is said to return to its vomits, and the pig that returns to the mire, the Nigerian politician has no shame and integrity. Their stomach is their consideration and even if they appear to have enough to last for their fleeting lifetime, like the grave that is never tired of receiving dead bodies, they are never tired of accumulating wealth, even illicitly.
When the news broke weekend that Femi Fani- Kayode, a former minister of Aviation, had returned to the All Progressives Congress (APC), a political association he had thoroughly vilified, it was a mixed bag of consternation and deja vu.
Consternation in the sense that Fani-Kayode had said many disparaging things against the APC and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari, that most Nigerians would never imagine him going back to the broom party.
Déjà vu to many people because what does not happen in Nigeria does not exist in human realm. So, it was not surprising to such people. They believe he only acted to type as a leopard that cannot possibly change its spots.
There were speculations surrounding Fani-Kayode’s moves. Before the eventual decampment, he had been sighted in activities that could be described as anti-party.
He junketed from one state to the other, claiming he was on project commissioning. When a journalist requested to know who was bankrolling his tours, he reminded the media practitioner, and indeed the whole world of his rich pedigree. He sandpapered everything and Nigeria moved on.
When again he was sighted in a group picture with the APC National Caretaker Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai-Mala Buni and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, and tongues again began to wag that he was making a dangerous move, he flatly denied and said even his dead body would not be taken to the APC circle.
He grabbed newspaper headlines at that time too. In fact, he said he would prefer to die to return to the APC.
Explaining away the reason for fraternising with the APC chieftains, he said: “It is right and proper for us to talk and to attempt to join hands across political, religious and regional lines to save Nigeria”.
He further 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 People’s Congress (APC).
Despite the frantic denial, some observers had insisted that the last may not have been heard of the meeting, since, according to them, “Nigerian politicians cannot be taken by their words”.
With the development today, Ayodele Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State would be scandalised for going all out to defend Fani-Kayode, and saying he would never move to the APC.
Fayose had, while reacting to the defection of David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor, and the then rumoured defection of Fani-Kayode, said: “May I say this to you, very clearly. In the book of James one from verse four. The Bible says a man is taken away in his own covetousness. Anyone who leaves PDP for APC at this time must be taken away by his own covetousness.”
According to him, “I’m over 60. What do I want to become? I was governor at 42. All the opportunities anybody could offer, PDP offered me
“I will not go to APC. What is missing? Some people choose to be dishonourable. Not me. I will rather go and be the husband of my wife, Feyisetan Fayose, and my son.”
He had also claimed that Fani-Kayode confided in him that he was not leaving PDP.
“I know FFK is going nowhere. What they are saying is not true. I have spoken to FFK about six times. What they are saying is not true. I’m 100 percent sure,” Fayose added.
Despite the denials, many observers believed it was a matter of time. They believed that FFK may have been invited to the meeting by the APC national leadership to woo him back to the party.
Recall also that Governor Yahaya Bello, who hosted Fani-Kayode on February 8, 2021, announced that “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 positive energy and make contribution into ensuring that APC is a party to beat.
“Remember that Chief Femi Fani-Kayode was a foundation member of this great party. Due to misunderstanding, he decided to port elsewhere. Now, he has decided to join our party. He approached me and by the mandate given to me by the party, I must not segregate, I must not discriminate against any individual.”
Observers also wondered if the move was out of desperation on the part of the party to whittle down the camp of its virulent critics, by converting its tormentor-in-chief (verbal wise) to preacher of “the broom gospel.”
While Fani-Kayode threw verbal salvos at President Buhari in the daytime, as it were; he rushed to the Villa in the cover of the night to cut deals.
He had said, “Those that claim that I have joined them and that 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!”
Such were the treacherous words employed by the former minister (who became everything he is today on the PDP platform) with which he rocked the umbrella association to sleep, believing they were on the same page.
Recall that his earlier move to join the APC was first resisted by Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman who warned that President Muhammadu Buhari will not approve such deranged possibility as such consideration would be stretching the trust of party members beyond acceptable limits.
Lukman said for APC leaders to associate themselves with Fani-Kayode, is simply rewarding scandalous behaviour, recalling that the PDP chieftain had fabricated stories, distorted, insulted and damaged information about APC and its leaders.
“Besides the open letters, what abusive language has he not used against our party and our leaders? Most of these are unprintable. A typical example of the kind of abuses he spat on our leaders and our party can be demonstrated with his response to a tweet by Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Information, last May 2020,” he said.
According to him, “Mr. Adesina argued that President Buhari’s emergence as President saved the country. Responding, Mr. Fani-Kayode said: ‘Not so my friend. The emergence of Buhari in 2015 annihilated Nigeria and plunged her into darkness, death and destruction. ‘He came to steal, kill and destroy and for the last disastrous 5 years that is all he has done.’”
Lukman, who said that Fani-Kayode lacked values required for APC membership, said: “The issue of Fani-Kayode’s drifted attempt to join the APC is a clear instance of attempts to manipulate some of our leaders into accepting membership of someone who ought not to have been considered as member of our party.
“If that was the case in the past, it is better late than never to correct such a mistake; as party members, we were able to rise up to the challenge of engaging our leaders.
“Fortunately, we are able to gain the respect of our leaders and surely, moving forward, issues of who qualifies to be a member of our party will be clarified unambiguously.’’
But Lukman was just verbalizing his frustration as a member of the party, but the leadership knows what and why they have opened their arms wide open to received back into the fold, a prodigal son.
Like the story of the Prodigal Son that featured in the Scriptures, the anger of his elder brother at the lavish reception mounted for the “returnee waster” could not sway their father into discontinuing with the merriment.
It would seem that the Buhari administration has made too many enemies, that the President and indeed, the leadership of the APC, would be happy to depopulate the clan of virulent critics, which Fani-Kayode tried to make Nigerians believe he was a member of.
While it is a huge gain for Aso Rock, it is also a relief for the masses of Nigeria, because they now know that not all those that scream and shout at government’s suffocating policies, do so in the collective people’s interest.
From now till the general election in 2023, a lot of things will happen on the Nigerian political turf.
There would be real moves by politicians to decamp or join one political party or the other, and there would be abundant speculations too.