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Femi Fani-Kayode – New Nigerian Politics http://newnigerianpolitics.com A New kind of Politics Thu, 09 Apr 2020 17:37:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.16 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/logo_new_draft_April23_NNP-50x50.jpg Femi Fani-Kayode – New Nigerian Politics http://newnigerianpolitics.com 32 32 Fani-Kayode and the Igbos – By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2013/08/10/fani-kayode-and-the-igbos-by-dr-phil-tam-al-alalibo/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2013/08/10/fani-kayode-and-the-igbos-by-dr-phil-tam-al-alalibo/#comments Sat, 10 Aug 2013 23:56:25 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=31768 Femi-Fani-Kayode-360x270By Phil Tam-Al Alalibo | NNP | August 10, 2013 – I am not in any way attempting to hold brief for the Igbos as they are more than capable of doing so for themselves.  However, I wish to make a few comments about the unsavory article written by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, titled The Bitter Truth about the Igbos,” published on www.newnigerianpolitics.com on August 8, 2013. There were several innuendos, wanton assumptions, worrisome generalizations and inherent flaws expressed by the former aviation minister that are not only inimical to the unity of Nigeria, but regrettably showcase his colossal and unforgivable ignorance in matters of history, economics and even contemporary politics. I am aghast given the exposure and level of education of Mr. Fani-Kayode, that rather than traveling the high road in the face of provocative utterances made by ex-governor Kalu Orji when he boastfully claimed that 55% of Lagos was developed by the Igbos, instead elected to engage him by spewing bigoted vituperations from the rooftop and descending into the abyss of absurdity. To think that this was a minister I once admired for his “as a matter of fact” propensity and audacity to take on the big foreign airlines makes his offensive tirade all the more vexing. Thus, it behooves me to phantom what has motivated this two-time minister to take on permanent residence in the wilderness of bigotry and dine with the demons of hate. Such petty disposition and scourging diatribe are baffling and unbefitting of the caliber of a former respected federal minister whose constituency was the entire nation that included the Igbos. Such discourse, in the opinion of many, has consigned him to the unenviable corridors of political irrelevance and revealed his true opinion and hatred for the Igbos. This is indeed sad! For Mr. Fani-Kayode to make needless comparisons as to which ethnic group had the first law graduate and which had the first medical doctor is not only laughable, but amply depict his pedestrian level of mental and political maturity, casting him in the light of an ethnic jingoist. In his submission, Mr. Fani-Kayode attempted to boast of the educational superiority of his Yorubas ethnic group over the Igbos. I quote,

Unlike them we were never traders but we were (and still are) industrialists and when it comes to the professions we were producing lawyers, doctors, accountants and university graduates at least three generations before they ever did. That is the bitter truth and they have been trying to catch up with us ever since. For example the first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. Again the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935.”

Be that as it may, the salient questions should be; has that educational superiority transformed Nigeria into a first world country with a GDP largest than those of the United States, Japan and China? Is Nigeria any more industrialized than Somalia or war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo? On account of that superiority, are we seeing foreign students from all walks of life flocking to Nigeria to learn from our professors in our well-funded and equipped world class universities? Due to the claimed educational superiority over the Igbos, has Nigeria become the undisputed hub for scholarship, jurisprudence, medical innovation, ingenuity and creativity? My friends, what is perturbing and equally disheartening is the fact that such pretentious pontifications are emanating from the so-called political elites that are supposed to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. With such narrow-minded ethnic purists at the helm of affairs, should we ponder any further as to why our nation is abundantly awash with corruption, bad leadership and assorted ethnic wars? Should we ponder any further why we continuously lack behind in most global indices while the likes of Singapore is surging economically and ahead of Nigeria in almost all spheres of human endeavor? While the likes of South Korea, a country which was once at par with Nigeria in the economic sense is making waves technologically and leaving giant footprints in the electronic and auto industries, Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their co-travelers are vigorously fanning the ember of ethnic discord, chanting war songs rather than discussing ways to rescue the country from the looming tsunami. A recent review of South Korea’s GDP reveals the mess that is Nigeria as it (South Korea) ranks #15 in the world against Nigeria’s 39th. This information becomes relevant and puts into perspective our lot with bad leadership given the fact that Nigeria, not South Korea, is the world’s 8th largest oil producer. One of my mentors, a fellow political scientist, once noted during a paper presentation at an international conference, “That the worth of a nation is measured by its level of tolerance.” By this statement, the revered political scientist was referring to the ability of a nation to accommodate the interests of its minorities or the marginalized segments of the population. But if Fani-Kayode’s venomous discourse is anything to go by, Nigeria by this estimation is worthless given the height of intolerance blazingly exhibited by its political elite. We must admit and sadly so that Fani-Kayode’s holier than thou attitude and unilateral ascription of self-righteousness belie a deeper affliction on a nation whose progress has been amply retarded by the curse of ethnicity and religiosity culminating in the stagnation of a mass of people that should have long taken their place in the world. Nigeria appears to be the only country on earth that sheepishly adheres to the policy of “Federal Character”, placing ethnicity above competence and ability, resulting in abject ineptitude of ministers, permanent secretaries and even presidents. Due to political expediency, this process, to the detriment of our corporate existence, has produced the likes of Mr. Fani-Kayode, who today, has a platform to debase other nationalities. What is particularly disappointing about Fani-Kayode’s article is the fact that education and exposure have had no impact on his worldview and his relationship with other nationalities that share the Nigerian space. The purpose of education and why most people seek it years on end is to improve one’s lot and provide us the mental ability to challenge our own assumptions while engaging in self-evaluation. From the aforementioned, we do not need a soothsayer to advise us that there is something inherently wrong with our polity that requires far-reaching corrective measures and perhaps, a sober assessment of the Nigerian project to determine its sustainability and practicality in the face of current realities and agitations. In the grand scheme of things and at the end of the day, we must ask the cogent questions rather than basking in past glory that has taken us nowhere. Does it really matter who owns Lagos, does it really matter who owns Port-Harcourt, does it really matter who owns Abia; what should matter to every Nigerian is the need to develop those areas and build the much needed capacity, institutions and infrastructure that would enhance the ability of the country to be an economic force. With Mr. Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their likes comfortably nesting in their primordial tribal mentality of yester years, we must not dream of attaining the sophistication and tolerance of the United States where an Austrian immigrant in the person of Arnold Schwarzenegger can become governor of one of the biggest states in the union, California; or a Canadian-born citizen, Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan; or an Illinois-born Ronald Reagan the governor of California? Will the Fani-Kayodes of Nigeria allow us to dream, my friends?

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The Bitter Truth About the Igbos – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2013/08/08/the-bitter-truth-about-the-igbos-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2013/08/08/the-bitter-truth-about-the-igbos-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Thu, 08 Aug 2013 20:29:57 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=31717 By Femi Fani-Kayode | NNP | August 8, 2013 – Permit me to make my second and final contribution to the raging debate about Lagos, who owns it and the seemingly endless tensions that exist between the Igbo and the Yoruba. It is amazing how one or two of the numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria secretly wish that they were Yoruba and consistently lay claim to Lagos as being partly theirs. Have they forgotten where they came from? I have never heard of a Yoruba wanting to give the impression to the world that he is an Igbo, an Ijaw, an Efik or a Hausa-Fulani or claiming that he is a co-owner of Port Harcourt, Enugu, Calabar, Kano or Kaduna. Yet more often than not some of those that are not of Yoruba extraction but that have lived in Lagos for some part of their lives have tried to claim that they are bona fide Lagosians and honorary members of the Yoruba race. Clearly it is time for us to answer the nationality question. These matters have to be settled once and for all.
 
Lagos and the south west are the land and the patrimony of the Yoruba and we will not allow anyone, no matter how fond of them we may be, to take it away from us or share it with us in the name of “being nice”, “patriotism”, “one Nigeria” or anything else. The day that the Yoruba are allowed to lay claim to exactly the same rights and privileges that the indigenous people in non-Yoruba states and zones enjoy and the day they can operate freely and become commissioners and governors in the Niger Delta states, the north, the Middle Belt and the south-east we may reconsider our position. But up until then we shall not do so. Lagos is not a “no-man’s land” but the land and heritage of the Yoruba people. Others should not try to claim what is not theirs.
 
I am not involved in this debate for fun or for political gain and I am not participating in it to play politics but rather to speak the truth, to present the relevant historical facts to those that wish to learn and to educate the uninformed. That is why I write without fear or favour and that is why I intend to be thoroughly candid and brutally frank in this essay. And I am not too concerned or worried about what anyone may think or how they may feel about what I am about to say because I am a servant of truth and the truth must be told no matter how bitter it is and no matter whose ox is gored. That truth is as follows.
 
The Yoruba, more than any other nationality in this country in the last 100 years, have been far too accommodating and tolerant when it comes to their relationship with other nationalities in this country and this is often done to their own detriment. That is why some of our Igbo brothers and sisters can make some of the sort of asinine remarks and contributions that a few of them have been making in this debate both in the print media and in numerous social media portals and networks ever since Governor Fashola “deported” 19 igbo destitutes back to Anambra State. In the last 80 years the Igbo have been shown more generosity, accomodation, warmth and kindness and given more opportunities and leverage by the Yoruba than they have been offered by ANY other ethnic group in Nigeria. This is a historical fact. The Yoruba do not have any resentment for the Igbo and we have allowed them to do in our land and our territory what they have never allowed us to do in theirs. This has been so for 80 long years and it is something that we are very proud of.
As I said elsewhere recently, to be accommodating and generous is a mark of civilisation and it comes easily to people that once had empires. The reason why many of our people take strong exception to the apparent outrage of the Igbo over this “deportation” issue and the provocative comments of my friend and brother Chief Orji Uzor Kalu when he described Lagos as being a “no man’s land” is because the Igbo have not only taken us for granted but they have also taken liberty for licence.
 
We cannot be expected to tolerate or accept that sort of irreverent and unintelligent rubbish simply because we still happen to believe in “one Nigeria” and we will not sacrifice our rights or prostitute our principles on the altar of that “one Nigeria”. Whether Nigeria is one or not, what is ours is ours and no-one should test our resolve or make any mistake about that. “One Nigeria” yes but no-one should spit in our faces or covet our land, our treasure, our success, our history, our virtues, our being and our heritage and attempt to claim those for themselves simply because we took them in on a rainy day. It is that same attitude of “we own everything”, “we must have everything” and “we must control everything” that the Igbo settlers manifested in the northern region in the late 50’s and early and mid-60’s that got them into so much trouble up there with the Hausa-Fulani and that eventually led to the terrible pogroms where almost one hundred thousand of them were killed in just a few days.
 
Again it is that same attitude that they manifested in Lagos and the Western Region in the late ’30’s and the early and mid-40’s that alienated the Yoruba from them, that led to the establishment of the Action Group in April, 1951 and that resulted in the narrow defeat of Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe in the Western Regional elections of December, 1951. As a matter of fact they were the ones that FIRST introduced tribalism into southern politics in 1945 with the unsavoury comments of Mr. Charles Dadi Onyeama who was a member of the Central Legislative Council representing Enugu and who said at the Igbo State Union address that “the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the Igbo is only a matter of time”. This single comment made in that explosive and historic speech did more damage to southern Nigerian unity than any other in the entire history of our country and everything changed from that moment on.
 
To make matters worse, in July 1948 Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe made his own openly tribal and incendiary speech, again at the Igbo State Union, in which he spoke about the “god of the igbo” eventually giving them the leadership of Nigeria and Africa. These careless and provocative words cost him dearly and put a nail in the coffin of the NCNC in the Western Region from that moment on. This was despite the fact that that same NCNC, which was easily the largest and most powerful political party in Nigeria at the time, had been founded and established by a great and illustrious son of the Yoruba by the name of Mr. Herbert Macauly. Macauly, like most of the Yoruba in his day, saw no tribe and he happily handed the leadership of the party over to Azikiwe, an Igbo man, in 1945 when he was on his dying bed. How much more can the Yoruba do than that when it comes to being blind to tribe? Can there be any greater evidence of our total lack of racial prejudice and tribal sentiments than that? If the NCNC had been founded and established by an Igbo man would he have handed the whole thing over to a Yoruba on his death bed? I doubt it very much.
 
Again when northern military officers mutinied, effected their “revenge coup” and went to kill the Igbo military Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi on July 29th 1966 in the old Western Region, his host, the Yoruba Col. Fajuyi (who was military Governor of the Western Region at the time), insisted that they would have to kill him first before taking Aguiyi-Ironsi’s life and the northern officers (led by Major T.Y. Danjuma as he then was) promptly obliged him by slaughtering him before killing Aguiyi-Ironsi. How many Igbos know about that and how many times in our history have they made such sacrifices for the Yoruba? Would Aguiyi-Ironsi, or any other Igbo officer, have stood for Fajuyi, or any other Yoruba officer, and sacrificed his life for him in the same way that Fajuyi did had the roles been reversed? I doubt it very much.
 
Yet instead of being grateful the Igbo continuously run us down, blame us for all their woes, envy our educational advantages and resent us deeply for our ability to excel in the professions and commerce. Unlike them we were never traders but we were (and still are) industrialists and when it comes to the professions we were producing lawyers, doctors, accountants and university graduates at least three generations before they ever did. That is the bitter truth and they have been trying to catch up with us ever since. For example the first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. Again the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935.
 
Yet despite all this and all that they have been through over the years and despite their terrible experiences in the civil war we are witnessing that same attitude of “we must control all”, “we must own all” and “we must have all” rearing its ugly head again today when it comes to their attitude to the issue of the deportations from Lagos state and when you consider the comments of the Orji Kalu’s of this world about the Igbo supposedly “owning Lagos” with the Yoruba and supposedly “generating 55 per cent of the state’s revenue”. It is most insulting. And I must say that it is wrong and unfair for anyone to lay the blame for the perennial suspicion and underlying tensions that lie between the two nationalities on the Yoruba because that is far from the truth.
 
We are not the problem, they are. Pray tell me, in the whole of Nigeria who treated the Igbo better than the Yoruba after the civil war and who gave them somewhere to run to where they could regain all their “abandoned property” and feel at home again? Who encouraged them to return to Lagos and the west and who saved the jobs that they held before the civil war for them to come back to when the war ended? No other tribe or nationality did all that for them in the country – only the Yoruba did so. And the people of the old Mid-West and the Eastern minorities (who make up the zone that is collectively known as the “south-south” today) have always viewed them with suspicion, have always feared them and have always resented them deeply.
 
From the foregoing any objective observer can tell that we the Yoruba have always played our part when it comes to accommodating others. This is particularly so when it comes to the Igbo who we have always had a soft spot for and who we have always regarded as brothers and sisters. It is time that those “others” also play their part by acquiring a little more humility, by knowing and accepting their place in the scheme of things and by desisting from giving the impression that they own our territory or that they made us what we are.
 
Now let us look at a few historical facts and one or two more Igbo “firsts” that many may not be familiar with to buttress the point. The igbo people were the FIRST to carry out a failed coup on the night of Jan 15th, 1966 under the leadership of Major Emmanuel Ifejuna, Major Chukuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Major Christian Anuforo, Capt. Ben Gbulie, Major Timothy Onwatuegwu, Major Donatus Okafor, Capt. Ude, Capt. Emmanuel Nwobosi, Captain Udeaja, Lt. Okafor, Lt. Okocha, Lt. Anyafulu, Lt. Okaka, Lt. Ezedigbo, Lt. Amunchenwa, Lt. Nwokedi, 2nd Lt. J.C. Ojukwu, 2nd Lt. Ngwuluka, 2nd Lt. Ejiofor, 2nd Lt. Egbikor, 2nd Lt. Igweze, 2nd Lt. Onyefuru, 2nd Lt. Nwokocha, 2nd Lt. Azubuogu and 2nd Lt. Nweke in which they drew FIRST blood and openly slaughtered and butchered leadiing politicians and army officers from EVERY single zone in the country except their own. I should also mention that even though this was clearly an Igbo coup there was one Yoruba officer who was amongst the ringleaders by the name of Major Adewale Ademoyega.
 
It was a very bloody night indeed. Amongst those killed were the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, the Premier of the Western Region, Chief S.L. Akintola, the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Federal Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Brigadier Zakari Maimalari, Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, Colonel Ralph Shodeinde, Lt. Colonel James Yakubu Pam, Lt. Colonel Abogo Largema and numerous others. They did not just kill these reverred and respected leaders but in some cases they mocked, tortured and maimed them before doing so, took pictures of their dead and mutilated bodies and killed their wives and children as well. For weeks after these horrific acts were carried out the Igbo people rejoiced and celebrated them in the streets and markets of the north, openly displaying pictures and posters of the Sardauna’s mutilated body with Nzeogwu’s boot on his neck, loudly playing a famous and deeply offensive anti-northern song in which northerners were compared to goats and listening to it on their radios, jubilating that they had brought an end to what they described as “northern rule and Islamic domination” and openly boasting that they themselves would now “rule Nigeria forever”. Though the first coup failed the matter did not end there.
 
The very next day after the Jan.15th mutiny and butchery had failed and did not result in Ifeajuna taking power in Lagos, the Igbo people set their “plan B” in motion and they were the FIRST to carry out a successful coup in Nigeria just one day later on Jan. 17th 1966. This was when the Igbo Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi (who was Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Army and who had inexplicably and suspiciously not been murdered by the young Igbo officers in their violent mutiny and killing spree the night before) in collusion with the Igbo Acting President Nwafor Orizu and the entire Igbo political leadership of that day, invited the remnants of Sir Tafawa Balewa’s cabinet to a closed door meeting, threatened their lives and took power from them at the point of a gun.
 
Aguiyi-Ironsi did not just ask them to give him power but he took it from them by force by telling them that he could not guarantee their safety if they refused to do so. Meanwhile Orizu point blank refused to do his duty as Acting President and swear in Zana Bukar Dipcharimma as the Acting Prime Minster when the members of the cabinet and the British Ambassador (who was also at the meeting) implored him to do so since by that time there was a power vacuum because the Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, had gone missing and had probably been murdered. It was in these very suspicious circumstances and as a consequence of this murky and deep-seated Igbo conspiracy that General Aguiyi-Ironsi came to power. Amongst those that were present at that famous “meeting” that are still alive today are Alhaji Maitama Sule, Chief Richard Akinjide and President Shehu Shagari who were all Ministers in Balewa’s cabinet. Those that doubt the veracity of my account of this meeting would do well to ask any of them exactly what transpired during that encounter.
 
Yet the seeming success of the conspiracy was short-lived. Only six months later, on July 29th 1966, General Aguiyi-Ironsi and no less than 300 Igbo army officers reaped the consequences of their actions and plot when they were all slaughtered in just one night during the northern officers revenge coup which was led by Lt. Colonel Murtala Mohammed, Major Abba Kyari, Captain Martins Adamu, Major T.Y. Danjuma, Major Musa Usman, Captain Joseph Garba, Captain Shittu Alao, Captain Baba Usman, Captain Gibson S.Jalo and Captain Shehu Musa Yar’adua as they then were. Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon was put in power by this group after that and a few weeks later between September 29th 1966 and the middle of October of that same year approximately 50,000 Igbo civilians were attacked and slaughtered in a series of horrendous pogroms in the north by violent northern mobs as a reprisal for the killing of the northern leaders, including Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, by Major Nzeogwu, Major Ifeajuna and other junior Igbo officers on the night of Jan. 15th 1966. Please note that despite the fact that a number of Yoruba leaders were killed on that night as well no Igbo civilians were massacred anywhere in the west by mobs in reprisal killings throughout that period.
 
The Igbos understandably left the north in droves after those terrible pogroms and fled back to the east from whence they came. And perhaps that would have been the end of the story but for the fact that they also declared secession and sought to dismember Nigeria. They then made their biggest mistake of all by provoking a full scale military conflict with Nigeria when they launched a vicious and unprovoked attack against the rest of the south attacking and conscripting the eastern minorities , storming the Mid-West and attempting to enter Yorubaland through Ore to capture it. Thankfully they were stopped in their tracks by the gallant efforts and courageous fighting skills of the Third Marine Commando (which was primarily a Yoruba force and which was under the command of the great Colonel Benjamin Adekunle, ‘the Black Scorpion’), prevented from entering the west, driven out of the Mid-West, pushed back into the East, defeated in battle after battle and were eventually brought down to their knees and forced to surrender to the Federal forces in Enugu.
 
The Igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeria and killed Nigerians for 3 hard years in that brutal civil war in which over one million courageous, loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front trying to stop Biafra from seceeding from the federaration, from taking our land and from taking the minority groups of the Mid-Western Region and Eastern Region and our newly-discovered oil with them. Yet despite our massive casualties and the monuemental loss of life that the Federal side suffered (a total of 2 million died on both sides) the Igbo people were welcomed back into Nigeria after the war with open arms. Yet it was only in Yorubaland and especially in Lagos that they were given all their “abandoned property” back and welcomed back as brothers and sisters without any reservations or suspicions whatsoever. Everywhere else in the country for many years they were denied, deprived, shunned, attacked, killed, discriminated against and humiliated but never in the southwest or Lagos. It is the Igbo people more than any other that have complained about marginalisation in Nigeria, forgetting that there is no other country in the world in which there was a major civil war and yet only 10 years after that war ended the losing side produced the Vice President for the whole country in a democratic election in 1979 in the distinguished person of Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
 
Some have described my submissions in this debate as being ”inflammatory” and have claimed that I am “not a true progressive” for making them. I reject these labels and I wonder whether those people that conjured them up described the comments of my dear friend and brother Chief Orji Kalu as “inflammatory” and whether they labelled him as “not being a true progressive” when he erroneously claimed that the Igbo generated 55 per cent of the revenue and owned 55 per cent of businesses in Lagos and that they are effectively the owners of the state. Unlike most of those that are attempting to label me and brand me as a tribalist I know the history of Lagos and the Yoruba very well.
 
We will not let anyone poison the minds of our Yoruba youth or dispossess them of their heritage by keeping silent when we witness the irresponsible and dishonest propagation of the most desperate and despicable form of historical revisionism that some Igbo leaders are suddenly churning out. If anyone thinks that they can intimidate us into keeping quite when their leaders say such things then they will have the biggest shocker of their lives. We shall not be silenced and they shall not pass. Lagos and the Yoruba generally have much stronger historical, cultural and trading ties with the Bini, the Itsekiri, the Uruhobo, the Isoko, the Hausa-Fulani, the Tapas, the Nupes and the Ijaws than they do with the Igbo. The input of those other major ethnic groups to the development of Lagos and their stake in her is far greater than that of the Igbo. Whether anyone wishes to accept it or not that is the bitter truth.
 
We will not let anyone distort history and we will not keep silent when we hear the irresponsible and disrespectful effusions of those that seek to substitute truth with falsehood. When it comes to Lagos it is time that everyone respected themselves and knew their place. The Igbo particularly should display a much higher degree of respect and gratitude to those who were gracious enough to accept them in their land as equals when things were very difficult for them and who treated them with love, respect and kindness after the civil war when hardly anyone else was prepared to do so.
 
We the Yoruba have accommodated others in Lagos and throughout the south west and we have let them live in peace for the last 100 years. As a matter of fact we have been glad to do so because as far as we are concerned that is one of the hallmarks of civilisation – the ability to accommodate other faiths, other cultures, other races and other nationalities and to create an equitable and just racial melting pot where equal opportunities are available to all. It is a great and noble virtue to be open and tolerant but that does not mean that we are fools and it does not mean that we do not know who we are, where we are coming from, what is ours and what our heritage is. The fact that we have allowed others to thrive and settle in our land and share it with us does not mean that we have stopped owning that land. The suggestion that Lagos is a “no-man’s land” and that the Igbo or any other nationality outside the Yoruba generate up to 55 per cent of its revenue or business is absolutely absurd and frankly it has no basis in reality or rationality. It is not only a dirty lie but it is also very insulting.
 
Guests, no matter how welcome, esteemed, cherished and valued they are, cannot become the owners of the house no matter how comfortable they are made to feel within it. Those guests will always be guests. Lagos belongs to the Yoruba and to the Yoruba alone. ALL others that reside there are guests, though some guests are far closer to us than others. The Igbos are the least close, the most distant and the least familiar with our customs and our ways. They ought to be the last to be claiming our heritage and coveting our land and neither can they claim to have made any real input to our glaring success. For them to think otherwise is nothing but delusion.
 
Femi Fani-Kayode is a former Aviation Minister
 
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Can Barack Obama Be Trusted? – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/11/13/can-barack-obama-be-trusted-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/11/13/can-barack-obama-be-trusted-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2012 19:32:05 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=26386 By Fani Femi-Kayode | NNP | Nov. 13, 2012 – The American Presidential election will take place in a few days time and frankly some questions still need to be answered. I wish that Governor Mitt Romney had put one of those questions particularly to President Barrack Hussein Obama during their last Presidential debate which was on foreign policy. Permit me to put that question here and it is as follows. Why did the President bow so low before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah four years ago during his first state visit to the Arab Gulf state and why did he feel the need to almost touch his toes with his forehead when he did so. It is a matter of historical record that no American President in the last 200 years has ever bowed so low before any foreign leader, Prime Minister, Head of State, President or monarch. It appears to me to be rather strange that Obama, on his first trip to the Middle East as President of the most powerful country on the planet, should literally prostrate before an Arab King whose country has an abominable record on human rights, civil liberties, the rights of women and religious minorities and where the system of government is a totalitarian and absolute monarchy. Luckily a picture was taken of that celebrated event and that picture really does tell us something about the American President’s mindset. Yet it does not stop there.

On that same trip four years ago, after leaving Saudi Arabia, Obama toured the greater part of the Middle East and Egypt and in speech after speech he apologised to the Arabs for American policy in the Middle East over the previous 50 years. He did this despite the fact that in most of those countries christians,shia muslims and ethnic minorities have no rights at all and even though they have been killed, persecuted and supressed for many decades. Again he did this even though none of those countries were democracies and even though all of them, except for two, have refused to acknowledge the right of the Jewish State of Israel to even exist.This left a bad taste in the mouth of many at the time and the question that came to my mind was whether the ”Hussein” was coming out of the ”Barrack Hussein Obama” more than the ”Barrack” itself was. Yet whatever anyone may feel about the issue of his touching his toes with his head and his bowing before the Saudi king, as far as I am concerned, President Obama is not what he appears to be. There is far more to him than meets the eye. A couple more questions will suffice to illustrate this point.

Why is it that each time Barrack Obama is about to submit himself for a Presidential election and seek a mandate from his people there is a raging, monuemental, earth-shattering and record-breaking freak of a storm which kills numerous people in America? It happened a few days before his Presidential election in 2008 and it is has just happened again a few days before his Presidential election in 2012. Again why is it that on the first day of the convention of the opposition Republican party, both in 2008 and again this year, yet another violent and dangerous killer storm hit the towns in which the two conventions were held causing them both to be partially disrupted? What is Obama’s relationship with the elemental forces? What is his relationship with God or some lesser deity? What is his source of power and what is his spiritual foundation?

There is no doubt that he is a powerful orator and that he delivers brilliant speeches that mesmerises his audience. Yet so did Adolf Hitler and we all know what he was. I ask these questions because President Obama has supported every anti-christian and anti-faith policy that the American permissive state has thrown up and endorsed in recent years. The violation and literal denunciation of these religious core values, in my view, betrays the unfolding of an illicit,dark, sinister and subterranean anti-Christ agenda which must be rejected by all true men and women of faith. They must be renounced by every christian, every jew and every muslim and indeed all those that truly espouse the noble values and virtues of any of the three Abrahamic faiths. They must be rejected by all those that believe in the supremacy and efficacy of a monotheic God whose core values and holistic principles and standards are worthy of emulation and of being respected and cherished.

There are many examples of these gross violations of our core religious values but permit me to share just four of them with you here. Firstly, President Obama has endorsed a woman’s right to have an abortion and he has publically denounced ”the right to life” of unborn babies. Secondly, he has endorsed same-sex marriages. Thirdly, he has consistently supported homosexuality and the rights of homosexuals and lesbians. And fourthly, and perhaps the most disturbing of all, he has endorsed the right of same-sex couples to adopt and raise children. Quite apart from these four Obama has also endorsed all manner of social perversions and deviant behaviour in the name of humanism, ”new age” liberalism and the permissive American state. No true believer or person of faith can possibly accept such practices, endorse such values and still stand right before God.

To put the cake on the icing let me make one more point. Rev. Jene Robinson, a vocal and practising homosexual, whose ordination as a Bishop split the Anglican Church in America into two, was specially selected by Obama to deliver the invocation of the name of God and prayers at the beginning of the inaugral weekend of his inaugration ceremony as President in 2008. What message was Obama trying to send to America and to the world by insisting on this?

Outside of the area of social and religious values President Obama has also failed in the area of foreign and domestic policy. A few examples will suffice. The unprecedented number of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan which has led to record highs in the number of deaths of innocent muslim civilians, women and children in both countries. The alienation of Pakistan and Afghanistan as key allies in the war against terror. The destabilisation of north Africa and the opening of the door for islamist insurgents in the north African Arab Sahel states and the west African sub-region. The display of weakness and procrastination before Iran and it’s covert agenda to build a nuclear bomb. The display of double standards in the State of Bahrain and the over-pampering of the Arab Gulf states. The sheer mess that has been created in Syria and the indecision and procrastination of the Obama administration who have abandoned the opposition forces in that country even as thousands of innocent people are being slaughtered by Assad’s brutal regime.The insincerity of purpose and sheer coldness being displayed towards Israel and the indifference to her dangerous and existential plight. The disdain and contempt shown to all people of faith, the evangelical movement, the christian far-right and the vision of the old Pilgrim Fathers that founded the great country that is known as the United States of America.

The removal of the words “God” and “Israel” from the Democratic Party Convention. The disasterous handling of the American economy that has acquired a five trillion dollar deficit in the last four years. The rise of islamic fundamentalism in Mali and Nigeria due to a shortsighted and reckless policy in Libya. The taking of power by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the rise in power of Al Shabbad in Somalia and East Africa. The inexplicable refusal to declare Boko Haram (the islamist terror group that is bombing and killing thousands in northern Nigeria) as a terrorist organisation.The gradual turning of America into a quasi- welfarist state where ”big government” reigns and in which the traditional engine room of growth that is known as the American middle class is being systematically weakened and destroyed. The desecration of the traditional family unit and good old fashioned christian values by the adoption of strange and liberal “new age” practices, values and philosophies. The inability to protect the lives of American diplomats living abroad and the lack of firm reprisals after the killing of the American Ambassador and other Americans by terrorists in Libya. The massive foreign debt that America has acquired in the last four years. The huge quantum of cash that America is is now owing China and so on and so forth.

These are just some of Obama’s disastarous legacies and sadly the mistakes he has made in his foreign policy in north Africa particularly impacts on us directly in Nigeria and in west Africa. Let me give you just one example of that. Had it not been for the fall-out of the mess in Libya and the brutal way in which Muammar Ghadaffi, the Libyan leader, was murdered in cold blood one year ago, his Taureg friends and allies in north Africa would not have been inspired and driven to take over northern Mali and create a Taliban-style islamic fundamentalist state there and northern Nigeria would not have been flooded with jihadist footsoldiers and all manner of sophisticated arms and bombing devices for usage by Boko Haram.

With Obama all we see and hear are beautiful and inspirational speeches, a good deal of doublespeak, a failed economic policy and a weak, dangerous and thoroughly uninspiring foreign policy. Worst still all we see in Obama’s African policy is unpredictability, chaos, the appeasement of terrorists and utter confusion. Given this I cannot come to any other conclusion than the fact that President Barrack Hussein Obama cannot be trusted with America or indeed the world for the next four years. In my view he is a very mysterious, strange and complex man and sadly he has proved to be a thoroughly disappointing President. Consequently my prayer is that Governor Mitt Romney defeats him in the Presidential election which will hold in a few days time. If he does not I fear that the much predicted “beginning of the end” of America as a world economic power may have just begun. With China on the rise, Russia waxing strong, Brazil, India and Japan flexing their muscles and the European Union finally beginning to take shape and find her feet, in the next twenty years the world will be a very different place and America may no longer be “prima inter pares” (the first amongst equals). Only Romney can stop that downward trend. I am aware of the fact that, given Obama’s ancestry, this may not be a popular position to take amongst those of us that are people of colour and that are Africans but nevertheless it is still my position. I may be wrong but at least I have provided some food for thought. God bless America.

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”Nigeria is Just a Toilet of a Country Where Evil Reigns”- Lord Apsley – Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/10/02/nigeria-is-just-a-toilet-of-a-country-where-evil-reigns-lord-apsley-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/10/02/nigeria-is-just-a-toilet-of-a-country-where-evil-reigns-lord-apsley-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2012 01:08:12 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=25349 By Femi Fani-Kayode | NNP | October 2, 2012 – Lord Apsley and I were colleagues at Harrow School in England approximately 36 years ago. I have never forgotten his uncharitable remarks about Nigeria which led to a heated arguement between us. At that time I found it ironic, and I still do, that this quintessential member of the English upper class not only had the nerve to say such things to me about my country but that he could say it with such confidence. My response to him was that if Nigeria was indeed a ”toilet where evil reigns” then it was a toilet that was created by his British forefathers who not only dumped the evil there by defecating in it but who also refused to wash their hands, to flush and to leave the toilet after they had finished. My point was simple and it was that Nigeria was as much their mess as it was ours. For a young man who had been born into wealth and power and who had been brought up to believe that ”Brittania” had civilised the world and had brought nothing but immense benefits to the natives of her colonies, he found my response most disconcerting. I have never forgotten what he said about my beloved country on that occasion. It was painful and regrettable.
 
Yet I look at what has happened to us in the last 52 years of our existence as an independent nation and what we have suffered in the last 98 years since the 1914 amalglamation of the northern and southern protectorates and I really do wonder. If the truth must be told, things have not gone too well for us. I was born in the same year as we gained our independence and as I ponder and reflect on the last 52 years all I see is violence, bloodshed, dashed hopes, lost opportunities and shattered dreams. I see a brutal civil war in which two million people died. I see a string of violent military coups and repressive military dictatorships and I see suspicion and division between the peoples of the north and the south. I see dangerous tensions between the numerous ethnic nationalities, continous strife and sectarian violence. I see church bombings, the slaughter of the innocents, islamic fundamentalist rebellions, battle-ready ethnic militias and bloodthirsty local war lords. I see economic degradation, decaying infrastructures, environmental disasters and untold suffering and hardship. And finally I see poverty and unemployment, poor quality leadership and a dysfunctional semi-failed state which is still struggling to find it’s true identity. If this sounds like a scene from Dante’s hell please forgive me but this is what I see.
 
On October 1st every year we make nostalgic and inspirational speeches about the ”labours of our heroes past”, pop the champagne, pat each other on the back, go to churches and mosques to give thanks to God, dance at ‘owambe’ parties and congratulate one another on our independence. Yet we refuse to sit back in deep reflection, take stock of what has really been going on in our country and carry out an honest and candid appraisal of our situation. We are not ”a toilet of a country where evil reigns” but we must admit that we are in a mess. A really terrible mess. And the question is why are we in such a mess, how did we get there, why have we not been able to get out of it in 52 years and what role did our former colonial masters play, and are still playing, in creating and sustaining that mess.That is the subject of this essay.
 
If we want to answer these questions we must go back to the beginning. The problem is that the British established a faulty foundation for Nigeria right from the start which they knew could not produce anything wholesome. The Nigeria that they handed over to us in 1960 was nothing but an unworkable artificial state and a “poisoned chalice”. It was destined to fail right from the outset. Worse still they handed us that poisoned chalice with a malicious and mischievous intent and without any recourse to our people in terms of any form of a national referendum. The British did the same thing in varying degrees when they left virtually each and every one of their other ”third world” colonies. The most obvious cases however were Nigeria, the Sudan, India and the nation that was formerly known as Malaya. Every single one of these four countries had monumental problems with sustaining their unity after independence and all of them, with the exception of Nigeria, were compelled to break up into smaller entities before they could bring out the best in themselves as a people and fully exercise their human potentials. Consequently India broke up into three and became India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Sudan broke into two and became Southern Sudan and the Sudan and Malaya broke into two and became Malaysia and Singapore. Nigeria is yet to find the courage and fortitude to go that far and whether we will eventually break up or not remains to be seen.
 
Yet the truth is that when you force two incompatibles with completely different world views together into an unhappy marriage, lock the gates of the house, throw away the keys and bestow leadership upon a “poor husband” to rule over a ”rich wife” in perpetuity, you are looking for trouble. The bible says “if the foundation be faulty what can the righteous do?” Our foundation as a nation is faulty and the consequence of that is that everything that is built on that faulty foundation is unproductive, unsustainable and unpleasant. And until that foundation is fixed the biblical ”righteous”, no matter how well intentioned, can do nothing about it. It will always be a case of one step forward and ten steps back. Some have made the point that what exists in the Nigerian space today was once a collection of confederations and that our level of integration centuries before the British came to our shores was far greater than many care to admit. This may be true but upon their arrival the British, rather than build on that and allow us to forge a united nation ourselves based on dialogue, trust and consensus, instead played up our differences, drove us further apart, set us against each other all the more and compelled us to remain in the same cage hoping that we would eventually kill each other in the process.
 
The result of the amalglamation was therefore predictable. It was either that Lord Lugard’s “poor husband” (the north) would fully subjugate and eventually kill the “rich wife”(the south) or the “rich wife” would fully subjugate and eventually kill the “poor husband”. And we are right in the middle of that struggle for mutual subjugation till today. In 1960 the British ensured that power was handed over to the most pliable region at the Federal level by establishing an alliance with the northern traditional institutions and political ruling elite and fixing the census figures in their favour. Consequently by 1960 we had a situation where the well-educated, enlightened, progressive and predominantly Christian south was played out through intrigue, deceit and fixed census figures and instead power was given to a fatalistic and ultra-conservative Muslim north who were prepared to do anything the British wanted them to do, who had already overwhelmed and suppressed their own ethnic and Christian minority groups and whose major preoccupation was to dominate and control the entire federation, to keep the south out of power at the centre and to “dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean”. It did not stop there.
 
Even after the British left in 1960 they continued to meddle in our affairs and they encouraged, sponsored and supported a string of repressive military regimes, all of which derived their power from a northern-controlled army officers corps whose retired generals, up until today, are the ones that determine who will be what in our country. That is our story. Some have argued that despite the ignoble intentions of the British we ought to have been able to sort out our own problems 52 years after they left us. This is a good point. It does however betray a tinge of naivety and a lack of  appreciation of just how chronic those problems were right from the start and just how malevolent a hand the British dealt us. I say this because the bitter truth is that the system in Nigeria cannot be changed simply because the forces that have controlled our country since 1960 are deeply conservative and the foundation and the structure upon which she has been established has been designed in such a way that makes radical and fundamental change impossible. Some have compared Nigeria to a badly wounded, gangerous and dieased leg which can only be cured through restructuring or which needs to be cut off in order to save the rest of the body. The consequence of doing neither is death for the whole body. It follows that the only way real change can come is if the country is broken up into two or more independent nations or, if we insist on remaining as one, through the auspices of a peoples revolution (our very own ”Nigerian Spring”, similar to the ”Arab spring” that we witnessed in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt last year and that we are witnessing in Syria today) which will sweep away the old order, convene a Sovereign National Conference, restructure the country drastically and devolve power from the centre.  If you are looking for fundamental change in Nigeria these are the only two courses of action that can produce it.
 
 
The line up in our country is therefore clear-on the one hand you have the ordinary people, who have nothing and little hope for a brighter future, and on the other you have the ruling elite, who have everything. Those that are waiting for such a change to evolve under the present system and structure will wait forever. This is because under the present system there is no hope for a peaceful, purposeful and meaningful change because justice, equity and fairness has no place. Worse still the most courageous people with the best minds, that are prepared to speak the truth no matter how bitter that truth is and that have an element of vision are always destroyed, discredited or set aside. If anyone doubts this they should consider the fate of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Moshood Abiola. Those that have a clear vision about the way that Nigeria needs to go have no say and those that have a say have no vision. Our country is in the hands and grip of mediocres that just don’t care.
 
 
Unfortunately the Nigerian people do not seem to have the resilience or strength to effect either of the two options for true change anytime soon. They seem to have been so traumatised, demoralised and subjugated in the last 50 years that they have lost their will to resist inequity, tyranny and injustice, to insist on determining their own fate and to fight for their own future. And who can blame them because the state itself is extreemly violent and ruthless in the way and manner in which it fights and resists change and those that advocate it. Very few good leaders can emerge at the federal level in such a system because it was not designed to produce truly progressive leaders. There are a few exceptions to the rule but generally speaking the type of leaders that the Nigerian system is designed to throw up are leaders that are not minded to bring any benefit or hope to the ordinary people but rather that are there to protect the archaic system and to maintain the nebulous and dysfunctional status quo. The relevance of the British today is that they are not only the architects of this monumental monstrosity but they are also the ones that have continued to encourage and support the ruling elite that runs and sustains it.
 
If they were being fair to us they would have been amongst those that have been encouraging the idea of restructuring our country, devolving power from the centre and effecting a fundamental and radical change in our attitudes and affairs. That is precisely what they are doing in the United Kingdom itself today where power is being systematically and gradually devolved from the centre at Westminster in England to the hitherto suppressed and occupied regions of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This is good enough for them yet our erstwhile colonial masters have never supported a similar course of action for us. Instead they have done all they can to support those that believe that power should continue to be centralised and concentrated in Abuja, to maintain the “ancient regime” and to preserve the  chronically conservative system and the status quo. The idea of a properly-led, prosperous, peaceful and truly united Nigeria has never been something that the British ever sought to establish. It is for this reason that we can blame Lord Apsley’s forefathers almost as much as we can blame ourselves for the mess that our country is in up until today. May God deliver Nigeria.
 
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister during President’s Obasanjo regime.
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Chief E.K Clark and His Moral Icon – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/08/07/chief-e-k-clark-and-his-moral-icon-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/08/07/chief-e-k-clark-and-his-moral-icon-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2012 02:00:41 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=23852 By Femi Fani-Kayode | NNP | August 7, 2012 – When I challenged Chief E.K. Clark’s assertion that there was ”nothing wrong with placing soldiers on the streets of Lagos” last January during the oil subsidy crisis at a conference of the Political Summit Group in Lagos I knew that I was heading for trouble. I was given the floor to speak just a few minutes after the former Minister of Information and elderstatesman had stirred the audience with his words and to say that he was infuriated by not only what I said but also the thunderous applause that I received for daring to say it would be an understatement. The old man screamed at me at the top of his voice from his chair even as I had the floor and spoke and he accused me of all manner of unspeakable things there and then simply for daring to disagree with him to his face. Naturally I continued with my speech and acted as if he wasn’t even there but I knew that he would take his time and eventually hit back at me and claim his pound of flesh.

Yet even with that expectation nothing prepared me for the virulence and sheer ferociousness of his counter-attack.  And that counter-attack was launched during a public lecture on August 1st 2012, when the elderstatesman, during the course of his lecture, passionately proclaimed that I was holding myself out as a ”moral icon” after ”embezzling funds” that were entrusted to me when I was Minister of Aviation that were meant to be used to ”stop planes from crashing and to reform the aviation sector”. This was on live television and it was being watched by millions of Nigerians from all over the world.

 
Chief Clark added many to his hit list that day from former Heads of States, former Presidents and Vice Presidents, former Governors and Federal Ministers and so many more. If he was not accusing the northern leaders and governors of being behind Boko Haram and claiming that the problem began under President Obasanjo’s watch, he was daring Generals Babangida and Buhari to come clean and condemn Boko Haram or stand the risk of being counted amongst those that were behind it. He also had very harsh words for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the northern Governors, the Governors Forum, Senator Joshua Dariye, Pastor Tunde Bakare, former Governors Alamesighya, Peter Odili, Orji Kalu, former Minister of Aviation Professor Babalola Borisade and so many others.
This was quite a show and the elderstatesman was very much in his element. He was having a wonderful time kicking all his enemies in the pants without exercising any sense of restraint or decency. It was just slander all the way. There has probably never been a greater public display of defamation of character and the impugnment of the integrity of former public office holders that were not there to say a word in their own defence in the history of Nigeria. Everyone that had ever been accused of a crime was pronounced guilty of that crime by Chief Clark on that day. That is anyone that is not part of the present administration and that is not part of the Jonathan cabal which our elderstatesman merrily presides over. It was quite a show with more than enough razzle dazzle, sensationalism and wondrous allegations to go around. I was a little surprised that my former colleague in the Obasanjo government Professor Jerry Gana was left out of the list of those that were being lampooned until I saw him grinning like a cheshire cat from and clapping so eagerly and with such enthusiasm as our elderstatesman was spitting fire and defaming those that he once worked with and worked for. Such loyalty. 
And of course the erstwhile gathering loved Clark’s performance and cheered him on passionately even though the organisers of the event went to the podium as he spoke and advised him to stop mentioning names and saying such things about people that were deemed innocent until proven guilty and that were not there to defend themselves. Yet Chief Clark, in his characteristically brazen manner, brushed their concerns aside and boldly proclaimed that he would continue his epistle regardless of all because he was ”already in the waiting room before leaving this life” and he didn’t care about the consequences of what he was saying. It was all very exciting and dramatic but, needless to say, his assertions were mostly completely false.
 
 
Though I have little doubt that the man hates me with the biblical ”perfect hatred” I still found it extraordinary that someone of his sheer standing, magnitude and gravitas would seek to pronounce guilt on me on a matter in which he clearly knows nothing about. It is a sad testimony to his exciteable nature and his penchant for making unsustainable and irascible assertions that he should, on this occasion, have turned himself into a prosecutor, a judge and a jury in a matter that is before a duly constituted court of law. Let it be on record that not only did I not embezzle any public funds but also that I was cleared of doing so by the Senate Aviation Committee who conducted a public hearing into the whole matter in 2008. Even the EFCC, after initially charging me in July of that same year, dropped those charges one month later for want of evidence.
Contrary to Clark’s assertions, I was the one that actually investigated and exposed the embezzlement of 6.5 billion naira from the 19.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund which had taken place just before I became Minister in 2006. I was the whistleblower in that matter, I was the one that wrote to President Obasanjo and reported it and it was after I did so that he referred it to the security agencies for further investigation. Yet after we left office and in a manner that is so typical of Nigeria when it comes to such matters, I was punished for doing so and I was later accused of committing the very crime that I had exposed. Is that not absurd? In their zeal to effect the orders of the late President Umaru Yar’adua and to ”get me at all costs” the Farida Waziri-led EFCC, without any prior investigation into the matter, detained me for 10 days in their custody and proceeded to charge me in an Abuja magistrate’s court for the supposed misappropriation of the said 6.5 billion naira. Yet one month later, after realising the futility of their cause and after establishing all the relevant facts, they withdrew those charges against me and instead prosecuted  my predecessor in office for that same offence at the Abuja Federal High Court.
 
 
Chief Clark claimed that I ”embezzled the money” that I was given ”to use to stop the plane crashes” yet the truth is that not only did I not embezzle one kobo but also that not one plane crash took place under my watch. This is despite the fact that 5 crashes had taken place the year before I became Minister. The fact of the matter is that by God’s grace my team and I put an end to those crashes and saved lives. It was as a consequence of our hard work, our prayers, our dedication to duty and the solid reforms that we put in place that those crashes stopped and did not occur again for at least one year after we left office. Yet without knowing these facts, Chief Clark got up in a public forum on live television and not only made the most scurrilous, slanderous and outrageous allegations against me but he also pronounced me guilty of a crime that I did not commit. Is it a surprise that we are in such a mess in this nation when an elderstatesman behaves in this indecorous way. It is common knowledge that he is the Godfather-In-Chief of this administration but the question is whether he is making more friends or enemies for his son, President Goodluck Jonathan, when he behaves in this way and when he throws all caution to the wind and pontificates about issues that he knows nothing about? Perhaps I should point out the fact that the charges that were proffered against me by the EFCC in a Lagos High Court on December 2008, 6 months after the first set of charges had been withdrawn, had nothing to do with the 19.5 billion naira Aviation Intervention Fund.
It was obvious from the outset that all those charges were malicious and politically-motivated yet for the last four years I have kept my cool, honoured the conditions of my bail and avoided discussing the issue publically for obvious reasons. I have resisted and fought those charges vigorously for all those years and the likes of Chief E.K Clark and all the others that have sworn to see my end can be rest assured that I will continue to do so as long as I have breath in me. In God’s time and in God’s way He will vindicate me. It is however most unfair for Chief Clark to pronounce me guilty in this matter and to label me as a criminal when a court of law has not done so.
 
This is especially so when our constitution confers on me the presumption of innocence unless and until I am proven guilty. On a final note let me end this write-up with a word about political persecution and the usage of politically-motivated charges to intimidate those that are perceived by the government of the day as being vocal and dangerous enemies that must be silenced at all costs. This is nothing new. And regardless of it’s success or otherwise it changes nothing when it comes to God’s purpose.
When God’s hand is on a man for leadership or greatness you can lock him up in the deepest and darkest dungeon below the sea and throw the keys away but when the time is right God will spring him out again in order for him to fulfil destiny.
The problem with people like Chief Clark and those that do not understand the power of God and the pull of destiny is that they refuse to learn from history. Let me give you some examples. Three of the greatest leaders that Nigeria ever had, namely Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and President Olusegun Obasanjo all suffered persecution at one point or the other in their lives and every single one of them was convicted by a court of law and spent some time in jail. Awolowo was wrongly accused of treasonable felony and spent three years in jail, Obasanjo was wrongly accused of plotting a coup and spent three years in jail and Ahmadu Bello was wrongly accused of stealing public funds and spent some time in jail.
All three of them were targeted by the powers that were at that time who thought that they had successfully silenced and discredited them forever by jailing them. Yet when the time was right circumstances suddenly changed and God’s purpose spoke for all three of them. Awolowo was brought out of jail to become the de facto Prime Minister of Nigeria, Obasanjo was brought out of jail to become the President of our country and Bello went on appeal, won his case (Chief Bode Thomas of ”Thomas, Williams and Kayode” the first indigenous law firm in Nigeria who was the law partner of my late father Chief Remi Fani-Kayode and Chief Rotimi Williams represented him in court) was acquitted and freed and later went on to join politics and become the greatest leader that northern Nigeria has ever known. Destiny and the power of God spoke for all three of them and delivered them from the hands of their tormentors.  Equally relevant is the bitter end and unspeakable sorrows that engulfed and ended up consuming those that persecuted them and that orchestrated their incarceration and terrible ordeals. As a matter of fact in at least two of those cases those that orchestrated the persecution and unjust incarceration of these great men were murdered in cold blood shortly before the release, pardon and vindication of their victims.
 
My point is simple and clear- regardless of what the powers that be decide to subject us lesser mortals to, God alone rules in the affairs of men and determines the destiny of nations. Even though some that stalk the corridors of power today believe that they have the power over life, liberty and death and that they control everything, in reality they control and they have nothing. This is because the God of Heaven alone controls all that is. Any man that has been so intoxicated by power or by his access to the President to the extent that he is ready to play God at every given point in time ought to be pitied for his naivity rather than be the object of our anger. Chief E.K.Clark, the all-powerful former Minister of Information, the great leader and elder of the Ijaw nation and the political and spiritual father of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in my view, ought to be viewed in such light.           
 
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The Poor Husband, The Rich Wife & Boko Haram – By Femi Fani-Kayode (2) http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/06/27/the-poor-husband-the-rich-wife-boko-haram-by-femi-fani-kayode-2/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/06/27/the-poor-husband-the-rich-wife-boko-haram-by-femi-fani-kayode-2/#respond Wed, 27 Jun 2012 16:52:47 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=22549 By Femi Fani-Kayode | NNP | June 27, 2012 – I have nothing against the Islamic faith. As a matter of fact some of my most loyal friends are practising Muslims. There are many Muslims in my family and my maternal great grandmother was an illustrious Fulani woman from the Muslim core north. I do however believe that there is a world of difference between a true Muslim and an Islamist. The former is a humble worshipper of God who seeks to peacefully and piously live his life in accordance with the dictates of his faith and in true harmony with his neighbour. He is tolerant, reasonable, rational and God-fearing. The latter is the opposite. He is an Islamic fundamentalist and an extremist who seeks to impose his will and his own understanding and interpretation of Islam on others by compulsion, intimidation, violence and terror.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims in Nigeria today fall into the former category but there is a small and growing minority that sadly fall into the latter. That group constitute those that we describe today as Boko Haram and they have been waging a relentless and brutal war of terror against the Nigerian state and people for the last few years. They are indeed the enemy within. The question is what should our collective response be to these men of violence and blood. That, together with the a cursory analysis of how we got into this mess and the way out of it is the topic of this essay.

Some are of the view that we ought to enter some form of dialogue with Boko Haram and that this would eventually solve the problem. My younger brother, Mujahid Asari Dokubo, enunciated that position rather well in an article titled ”How To Address The Boko Haram Problem In Nigeria” (25th June, 2011) . He suggested that President Goodluck Jonathan should enter into negotiations with the islamist terrorist group as quickly as possible regardless of the fact that they themselves have made it clear that they are not interested in any form of dialogue with the government and that they have murdered thousands of innocent and defenceless Nigerian men, women and children in the last three years alone. I respectfully beg to differ with Dokubo on this issue and indeed with all those that share this view.

In my view the solution is simple to the Boko Haram problem is simple. They must be utterly crushed by the Nigerian state and certainly not negotiated with. This is because in any serious society there can never be dialogue, compromise or any form of negotiation with terrorists whilst they are still carrying arms and waging war against the state and the people. Worst still there can be no compromise with those that seek to forcefully establish a 17th century Islamic fundamentalist caliphate in our country and those that seek to impose their strange and outdated values on each and everyone of us. Worst still there is no doubt in my mind that Boko Haram is part of the world-wide Al Qaeda-sponsored ”global jihad” and if we give them one inch they will definitely take a mile. We cannot afford to have peace with them on any terms or peace with them at the cost of our hard-earned civil liberties, liberal and cherished values, plural and multi-cultural society and modern way of life. There must come a time when we as a people can boldly say ”enough is enough” and when we draw the line in the sand. And if Boko Haram crosses that line they must be confronted by the full force of the Nigerian Armed Forces who must be ready, willing and able to unleash hell on them regardless of the collateral damage and immense infrastructural destruction that this will cause in various parts of our country. President Olusegun Obasanjo did this decisively and with ruthless efficiency in the town of Odi in the Niger Delta area a number of years ago with remarkable success. By the time the Nigerian Armed Forces finished shelling Odi from the land, the sea and the air there was not one building left standing there except for, interestingly, the local bank. The casualties in terms of human life were extremely high but the point was made and the objective achieved. From that point on the Niger Delta militants stopped killing policemen and soldiers right up until the time that Obasanjo left power. Why can the same solution not be applied to the Boko Haram problem by the Jonathan administration today? What is the fear? Why should the same treatment not be meted out to any city or community in our country that grants the foot-soldiers of Boko Haram covert support, safe haven, sanctuary or shelter? This is all the more important because they are not true Muslims or believers in God.

Rather they are a cancer that must be identified, isolated and cut out of our body politic before they spread their terrible disease of hate, extremism, violence and intolerance throughout the federation and the reprisals begin. That is what a strong, focused, resolute and purposeful government ought to do. Sadly we have not seen any such thing from our government. Instead what we have witnessed from them are a series of feeble and pathetic pleas for dialogue with the enemy and the shameful display of weakness, incompetence and insensitivity when faced with their terror. To make matters worse the National Chairman of the President’s own ruling PDP, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, recently declared that Boko Haram was ”fighting for justice”. What a thing to say by an elder statesman who I not only have tremendous respect for but who I have always regarded as a father. I really do wonder what type of ”justice” he is referring to when churches are now being blown up virtually every Sunday morning all over the north and when thousands of defenceless Christians are being slaughtered on a daily basis. Is that what the Chairman calls ”fighting for justice”. Are these the people that are denying Boko Haram their justice and that are denying them their rights? Are they the ones that killed their leader, Mohammed Yusuf, a few years ago? Boko Haram started by targeting government institutions and security agencies with extreme and deadly violence but now they have graduated to killing the followers of Christ and they have made known their intention to wipe out Christianity in northern Nigeria and to stop Christians from peacefully worshipping their God. Is that the ”just cause” that they are fighting for?

We must understand that Boko Haram, what they stand for and what they seek to establish is patently evil and that what they are doing represents the greatest threat to Nigerian unity since our civil war. They are not just a danger to Christians but to all true Muslims as well. Real Muslims like Dokubo, Tukur and all the others that believe that Boko Haram are fighting a ”just cause” would do better by trying to educate and enlighten their misguided islamist brothers. They should advise them to stop the violence, to stop the slaughtering of Christians and true Muslims, to stop destabilising the Nigerian state, to stop trying to Islamise northern Nigeria, to stop trying to return our country to the dark ages of the 17th century and to stop trying to wage a global war of terror against the rest of humanity. We as a people must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by their evil agenda and we must vigorously and courageously resist them no matter what it takes. No responsible and strong government would compromise or enter into negotiations with such barbarous and evil men that have so much blood on their hands. To throw down the gauntlet and confront such evil is one of the major challenges of our time and it is a challenge that our government must not fail to rise up to in a fearless, vigorous and responsible manner.

A few home truths must now be told. We Christians take strong exception to the fact that literally hundreds of thousands of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters from all over the country have been brutally killed by Muslim fundamentalists in northern Nigeria over the last 50 years for no just cause. The innocent blood of those people cries to God in heaven for vengeance and it gets louder and louder by the day. Boko Haram have said publically that they want the adoption of full Sharia law and the establishment of an Islamic fundamentalist state in all the northern states of Nigeria before they stop killing and bombing innocent people and spreading terror. Yet the truth is that that will never happen as long as Nigeria remains as one nation and remains a secular state. And if Nigeria ever stops being a secular state then we will simply break it up and go our separate ways. It is as simple as that. No-one wants a full blown religious war but neither will anyone run away from it if it is foisted on us. For how long can the people of the south and the Middle Belt sit by idly and watch silently as their own kith and kin that reside in the core north and their northern minority Christian brothers and sisters are subjected to nothing less than genocide and mass murder from the most ruthless and barbaric terrorist organisation that this country has ever known. I believe in restraint but is it humanly possible that we will be restrained forever?

Yet I believe that there is still hope and that a war can still be avoided. That hope lies in the speedy convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. That, in my view, is the only vehicle that can provide a lasting solution to the monumental challenges that we are facing in our country today, including the scourge of Boko Haram. I say this because whether we like to admit it or not, Nigeria is more divided today on ethnic and religious lines than it has ever been since our independence in 1960. We should iron out all these issues at such a conference once and for all. These religious clashes and killings feature in the northern part of Nigeria alone and hardly in the south. In the south-west where I come from the Christians, the Muslims and the traditional worshippers are one and we treat each other with love, respect, understanding and sensitivity. We do not kill ourselves on account of our religious differences. That is simply our way and clearly many from other parts of Nigeria and indeed the rest of the world have a lot to learn from us.

My position is that if Nigeria cannot be built on a foundation of equality, equity and fairness for ALL her people, whether they be Christian, Muslim, northern, middle-beltern or southern, then we should reject the concept of a united Nigeria and we should begin to renegotiate the terms of our union. I love this country and I would always be amongst those to defend and speak up for her unity but the truth is that there is absolutely nothing that is sacrosanct about the unity of the Nigerian state if we cannot live together in peace. As a matter of fact there has been a school of thought since 1914 when Nigeria was first created that it was an ”unworkable union” and a ”cruel joke”. Lord Frederick Lugard’s vision, and indeed his intention, when he recommended the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 was ably described and enunciated by his own very words when he said that the northern protectorate of Nigeria could be described as the ”poor husband” whilst the southern protectorate could be described as the ”rich wife”. He then pronounced the ”permanency” of our forced union by saying- ”today we marry the two and our prayer is that this union lasts forever”. That is how the north and the south got ”married” and that is how the famous amalgamation of 1914 came about.

The problem was that the two young spouses were never asked by their British masters whether they actually wanted to stay together, let alone get married. Worst still the ”poor husband” was never given the opportunity to court woo or propose to the ”rich wife”. To make matters worse the two spouses came from different worlds, had different backgrounds, had a different religion, had a different history and had a different world-view. Today the ”rich wife” and the ”poor husband” have suffered immensely in each others ”loving” arms. The marriage has been strained and turbulent. We fought a brutal and avoidable 3 year civil war from 1967 in which we killed no less than 2 million of our own people. Since1960 the story has been more or less the same and the tales of tragedy and woe have just continued to pour in. If it is not genocide, mass killings or sectarian butchery by groups like Boko Haram then it is always something else. Yet today’s barbarism and mass killings are far more horrendous than ever and are far better planned, funded, orchestrated and executed by those that are behind them than ever before. The question is how much longer can the ”rich wife” and the ”poor husband” give and take this sort of thing from one another? For how long can the centre hold before the voices of reason and restraint are completely drowned by the irrational, compulsive outrage that is gradually building up and the uncontrollable outcry for reprisals and revenge? For how long can our hope and fervent prayers prevent the dogs of war from being unleashed? May God save Nigeria.

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A Warning to The Rainbow Nation – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/04/01/a-warning-to-the-rainbow-nation-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/04/01/a-warning-to-the-rainbow-nation-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Sun, 01 Apr 2012 13:04:01 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=19693 By Femi Fani-Kayode  | NNP | April 1, 2012 – The South Africans are an ungrateful lot. After all Nigeria did for them during the struggle against apartheid, white minority rule and the relentless tyranny of the Boers they have done nothing but treat us with disrespect, disdain and contempt. A glaring example of this is their shameful treatment of our Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, at Johannesburg airport a few years ago when this respected and much-loved international statesman was stopped by the immigration officials, treated like a common criminal and kept waiting for hours simply because he was a Nigerian.
 
Though Soyinka had a valid visa he was only allowed into the country after the intervention of a high ranking South African government official who was contacted by the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa in the middle of the night. So unpleasant was that experience for Professor Soyinka that he vowed before the world that he would never travel to South Africa again.
 
Sadly nothing appears to have changed since then. The deportation and humiliation of no less than 125 of our people (all of whom had valid visas) at Johannesburg airport just a few days ago for allegedly not having valid yellow fever vaccination certificates is just the latest chapter in that sordid catalogue of insults. They did this after Arik Nigeria, our leading airline carrier, faithfully flew our people from Lagos directly to Johannesburg. The South African authorities denied them entry and promptly put the majority of those passengers back on board the plane and compelled Arik to fly them back home there and then. I feel particularly bad about this because as Minister of Aviation a few years ago I was one of those that fought hard for Nigerian airline carriers to secure most of the international routes that they are plying and that our people are enjoying today.
 
I am particularly impressed by Arik’s robust reaction to the incident when they threatened to simply stop flying to South Africa if the authorities were not ready to treat our people and their passengers with respect, fairness, sensitivity and decency. I am also glad that the Federal Government itself has risen to the occasion and has found the courage to reciprocate the South African gesture by denying entry into our country and promptly deporting 75 South African air travellers that arrived at Lagos airport just a few days. They gave the same reason as the South Africans had earlier done for this action. This was an appropriate reaction though it is only a first step. However more steps have to follow and we must go much further than that. Nigerians in South Africa have suffered racial discrimination, unjustifiable incarceration, humiliation, murder, beatings, insults, persecution, unfair trade practices, the most vicious form of racial-stereotyping
 and all manner of crimes and indignities from the South African authorities and the local population on a regular basis. This has been going on for the last twenty two years, it is institutionalised, it is systemic and it appears to be getting worse.
 
 
Such cheek and consistently uncharitable acts channelled towards a friendly African country is inexplicable and sickening.  This is all the more so when it is coming from a so-called ”rainbow nation” with black legs, a brown torso, a coloured neck and a big white Boer head and mentality. Can this sort of thing really be happening to our people in the land of the great Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramphosa? Nigeria shed her blood, spent her treasure and made monumental and painful sacrifices for over 40 years for these people and for that land through the darkest years when they were regarded as being sub-human and mere ”drawers of the water” and ”hewers of the wood” by their white Boer overlords and compatriots.
 
Have our South African brothers and sisters forgotten so soon? We may have our own fair share of challenges in this country and we may still be struggling with our own internal differences and contradictions but let those that seek to shame and humiliate our people make no mistake about it- Nigeria is still the giant of Africa and no-one, not even the biggest economic players on the world stage, have ever been able to bring us to our knees. South Africa would be best advised not to provoke a regional conflict whose outcome she cannot predict and which she cannot possibly contain, control, handle or win.
 
 
The number of South African companies that are fleecing Nigeria today are enormous. In the light of what has happened they should all be closely scrutinised and probed and where they are found wanting they should be kicked out. Enough of these insults from people that are very far behind us in terms of enlightenment, civilisation, culture and education. Nigeria is just too big and too good to be treated in this way. The South Africans may have more fighter jets, tanks and war ships than we do but they do not have the fighting spirit, discipline, courage, ferocity, professionalism and experience of the Nigerian ground forces and infantry. No nation on the African continent does. Our efforts in Chad, Sierra Leonne, Liberia, Somalia, Burma, the Congo, Angola, Mozambique and countless other nations over the decades where we have fought, shed our blood, kept the peace and made our input can bear testimony to that.
 
The average South African does not have the spirit and appetite for war and aggression and the ability to forcefully resist evil and stand up against injustice that the average Nigerian has cultivated over the last 52 years. Our civil war, in which over two million people died for a cause, is sufficient evidence of that. In any case they are the ones with the massive economic and financial investments in Nigeria whilst Nigerian companies have been effectively and systematically shut out of the South African market right from the outset. In this respect if the conflict widens and it comes to an economic war the South Africans have far more to lose than we do.
 
The truth is that nothing forges Nigerian unity more than any form of aggression or hostility from outsiders and foreigners. This is because before anything else we are first and foremost Nigerians and we are ready to sacrifice all in order to defend our honour, our land, our dignity, our citizens and our integrity even if it means doing so with the last drop of our blood. The South Africans must not mistake our liberal values, our generous disposition and our friendly and genial nature for weakness or stupidity. Behind our smile lies a proud heart and a resolve of steel.
 
We do not shirk. We are slow to anger but irresistible in battle. Our history, our lineage, our stock, our ancestry and our strength of purpose tells our story. They should read that story well before going any further. Nigerians are very tough, very resilient and very hard people. We are not just titans but we are the immortals. The South Africans would do well not to not dare us and not to wake up our sleeping sword lightly.

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Goodluck Jonathan- The Destroyer or Saviour of Nigeria?- By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/02/05/goodluck-jonathan-the-destroyer-or-saviour-of-nigeria-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/02/05/goodluck-jonathan-the-destroyer-or-saviour-of-nigeria-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Sun, 05 Feb 2012 14:05:15 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=17556 By Femi Fani-Kayode, NNP, Feb. 5, 2012 – I am sad and troubled for our nation. I just cannot sleep when I consider the amount of innocent blood that has been spilt in the 24 hours before I wrote this piece. Kano, Bayelsa, Bauchi….it goes on and on. So much blood, so much hate, so much division and so much destruction. And at the end of it all, just in the space of one afternoon, Nigeria’s second largest city of Kano has been brutally raped and violated and no less than 260 innocent and defenceless Nigerians have been butchered mercilessly in broad daylight and are now lying dead in the mortuary or the cemetery.

Many bodies are still lying under the rubble undiscovered and unrecognised even in death. I am convinced that there is only one thing left for President Goodluck Jonathan to do if he wants to turn the tide of public opinion that is mounting against him and if he wants to save himself, save his government and save Nigeria. He must find the courage to convene a Sovereign National Conference of the various nationalities that make up the geographical expression called Nigeria in which the terms and conditions of our continued union will be fully renegotiated. If he can do this quickly and if he can pull it off successfully his image will be redeemed and his name will be carved in gold in Nigerian history forever despite all that has happened in the last two years. If he does not do this the Islamist slaughter, the sectarian bloodshed and the inter-ethnic mayhem will just continue, his government will eventually fall and Nigeria may well break up in the process. Mark my words.

Depending on the choice that he makes he will either be known as the saviour of Nigeria or her destroyer. May God guide our President and cause him to make the right choice. When I first made this suggestion about the convening of a Sovereign National Conference on my facebook page many asked why it was that the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, which I served, did not convene a Sovereign National Conference at that time and why I didn’t support such a course of action then. My answer to them was as follows. A few of us most certainly did push for a Sovereign National Conference when we were in power. Some of us in that government, including Chief Akin Osuntokun, Professor Julius Ihonbere and a few others pushed for it very hard but you know very well that essentially President Olusegun Obasanjo is a conservative and he resisted it. As a matter of fact that is what qualified him and that is why he could be trusted with power and the job of President in 1999 by the northern power-brokers that brought him out of jail and put him there. They knew that they could trust him not to let them down and not to do what they did not want. And what they did not want was a Sovereign National Conference because they saw it, wrongly in my view, as a precursor to a break-up of the country.

The Yoruba nation, on the other hand, has been pushing for an SNC since 1993 and the June 12th annulment and many of our people were killed over the years in the pursuit of that noble cause. Again when OBJ’s government was in power every single one of the 6 zones in the country endorsed the call for an SNC except for the north-west and the north-east. That was 4 for it and 2 against it. Yet OBJ would still not do it. Instead he listened to the objections of the two core-northern zones and came up with that celebrated and famous quote that ”we cannot have two sovereigns at once” and that ” the Nigerian people have given their sovereignty to me through my mandate and I will not relinquish it to any conference”. Of course some of us, including me, took him up on that publically and we disagreed with him openly. My leader and my boss and the man that I still consider to be the father of our nation, President Olusegun Obasanjo, with the greatest respect, just didn’t get it then and perhaps he never will. We discussed this matter with him privately on many occasions and he resisted the idea but with the recent developments in our country I am sure that he wished that he had listened to us at that time. When we joined his government in 2003 there were many of us that had been NADECO men who urged him to find the courage to call the SNC but the man regarded us as dangerous radicals and he felt that we just wanted to break up Nigeria. Well he was wrong, we were right and history has proved this to be so. If we had had this ”sovereign” national conference long ago we would have had a better, stronger, restructured and more united Nigeria by now which would have been a true reflection of the will of the people. We would also have had either a true federation or a confederation.

We would not have still had what is in real terms essentially a unitary government with a Federal facade and we would not have still been busy killing ourselves over the little crumbs that we get from the federal table.
The reason that it was not so urgent when OBJ was in power, despite the fact that even then most Nigerians wanted it, was because religious and sectarian violence and ethnic and fratricidal butchery hat we see today did not exist at that time. Our government was able to contain the violence and threats of the Niger-Delta militias, the OPC, MASSOB, the Egbesu Boys, the Bakassi Boys, the Arewa Youth Congress and the core northern pro- Sharia lobby through a firm and strong ”no-nonsense”-style of leadership and we did not have to deal with a vicious and extremely violent, well-funded and well organised islamist sect with an Al Qaeda-style agenda like Boko Haram at the time. Sadly now we do and we are on the verge of a monumental disaster and violent breakup of the country simply because our President is weak, indecisive, inexperienced and he does not have the guts to crush the internal enemy or the ability to protect the people. Worst still Boko Haram and those that secretly support, arm and fund them have made it clear that they are at war with the government, with the security agencies, with CAN, with Christians and with Muslims that do not share their extremist views and or espouse their vicious brand of Islam.

They have also said that they want a northern Nigeria which is free of Christians, which is free of western education, which has an Islamic fundamentalist/Taliban-style government and which practices full Sharia law. They are not just demanding for this but they are also waging an open and terrible war and what is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing and genocide against a section of the people of northern Nigeria in order to achieve it. If we had a conference such demands could be put there peacefully assuming that is what the people of the core north really want. Other regions and zones also have their legitimate demands which should and would also be considered. The Niger-Deltans want resource control and derivation as a principle for revenue allocation, the Yorubas want regional police and armies, the Igbos want to live in a country where they are not considered as second class citizens anymore and where their people are not killed like chicken, the Middle Belt want to be emancipated from the core north and we all want guarantees that Nigeria remains a secular state where no religion lauds it over the other and where we can all practice our respective faiths without being marginalised, killed, bombed or persecuted for it.

The list of aspirations and demands of the various nationalities go on and on and these old soars and wounds are now festering and making us all bow in pain. The fact that they have not been treated is slowly killing our nation because no government has seen fit to address these issues once and for all and actually muster the guts to answer the all-important ”nationality question”, or as some prefer to call it the ”national question”. Most importantly when President Obasanjo’s government was in power Nigeria was still regarded by most Nigerians as a place where they all wanted to remain as one. Today that feeling is not as pronounced, national unity and cohesion has been badly eroded and we are more divided as a people than we have ever been before. The need for a Sovereign National Conference is more relevant and obvious today than it has been at any other time in our history. We will either answer it or convene one expeditiously or eventually two or three of the ethnic nationalities that are badly aggrieved in this country will not wait any longer and they will attempt to secede.

This will be resisted by the rest of the nation and that will lead to a civil war that will last for no less than 50 years. We must avoid that at all costs and we must acknowledge and appreciate the right of the various nationalities and peoples that make up present-day Nigeria the right to secede and to self-determine if that is what they really want. If we want Nigeria to remain together it must be in everyone’s interest that this is so, no-one must be made to feel like a slave to anyone else, everyone must enjoy the right and privilege to rule the country without being threatened simply because they are not of the right faith or ethnic stock and the terms and conditions of our union must be properly negotiated and agreed upon. The truth is that Lord Lugard’s Nigeria, which was a forced amalgamation of incompatibles in 1914, is long dead and things can never be the same again in our country. We either settle these fundamental issues by talking about it around a table at a Sovereign National Conference whose findings and resolutions would be binding on ALL our people or we will eventually settle it with bullets and bombs. Sadly this is the reality that we must face and accept.

Femi Kayode was a minister in the federal republic of Nigeria

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Nigeria Will Break Up – A Rejoinder to IBB’s Article – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/01/30/nigeria-will-break-up-a-rejoinder-to-ibbs-article-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/01/30/nigeria-will-break-up-a-rejoinder-to-ibbs-article-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2012 14:56:36 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=17343 Excerpts from IBB’s article

“…I can go back to fight a war to keep this country together even at 71…..some people are saying that “should anything happen to President Jonathan, forget about Nigeria” and so on. I know those who are saying this. Yes, they are supporters of the President. But I know the President is a sensible person so don’t waste your time saying that the world would come to an end if something happens to your son. Of course he is your son but he is our President. I have always respected these people but these things that they say amaze me. These are the same people that went to school, people who went to universities, people that are educated and people who have held positions of responsibility. There is a doctrine known as the ”Doctrine of Nigeria’s Settled Issues” and nobody should attempt to tamper with them. Number one, I don’t want any one of us to tamper with anything to do with Nigerian unity. Number two, the republican constitution is also a settled issue, more or less. Number three, the states are the federating units of this country and number four we are a capitalist country. Anybody that wants to talk about this country must make sure that he doesn’t do anything that will disrupt these basic settled issues in our political life. Anyone that is talking about dismembering this country you should not listen to him. If we see such things as ”christian south” and ”muslim north” we should disregard it. Even if such people say it the media should ignore it because you know it is not the truth, so you should not even write it”-

GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA, The Daily Trust Annual Dialogue, Abuja, 26th January 2012.

Femi Fani-Kayode’s response to IBB 

I have nothing but the deepest respect and affection for General Ibrahim Babangida and those that know me can attest to this. He is not only a great and profoundly good man that has sacrificed so much for our nation but he is also one of the very few truly detribalised leaders who genuinely and honestly love Nigeria and who passionately believe that the interest of every Nigerian is better served if our country remains as one.

I do not for one minute doubt General Babangida’s sincerity of purpose or his deep sense of patriotism. Anyone that can take a bullet to keep Nigeria one must always be given his due respect and honour. Yet despite my personal feelings and affection for the General I am afraid that, from an intellectual and political perspective, I have to respectfully and humbly disagree with him on this issue. I do not believe that there is any such thing as a ”Doctrine of Settled Issues” in our body polity and neither, in my view, is Nigeria as we know it today a sacrosanct, unbreakable or unchangeable union.

It is trite that the only thing that is certain in the life of men and nations is change. Whether we like it or not change is like an irresistable tide and, when its time comes, it is like a moving train and a raging wind which crushes or blows away anyone or anything that stands in it’s way.

You either bend with it or you break. I am a student of history and it may interest those that subscribe to this rather arcane and anachronistic theory known as the ”Doctrine Of Settled Issues” that Nigeria remains the only mega-nation and forced union of incompatibles that the British colonial masters cobbled together at the beginning of the 20th century that still remains together today. There were actually three in all and the other two, namely the Sudan and India, have broken into two and three pieces respectively over the years. Why should Nigeria be any different?

More importantly why should we be told that Nigeria MUST be different? Would this have been so if there was oil in the north? Again when one considers the delightful and miraculous ”crumbling” of the almighty Soviet Union (another forced artificial union) or the breaking up of the old Yugoslavia and the emancipation and creation of numerous new countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe which came as a consequence of that magnificent change. I ask again, why should Nigeria be any different?

The words of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher are instructive here. In the September 2, 1991 edition of Newsweek she said, ”the lesson of this century is that countries put together artificially will fall apart. National identities will not be suppressed”. Twenty years after these famous words were spoken we are beginning to witness their relevance and veracity in Nigeria. The right to self-determination and to forcefully resist what many feel is an internal colonial system is a legitimate and inalienable right of all free men and women. You cannot hold me down and keep me in your house on your own terms and deny me the right to be free or to say or do as I please.

If you do not treat me fairly and if you continue to make me feel worthless and full of fear of your terror and ability to inflict violence on me and mine, then eventually, whether you like it or not, I will leave. No one signed their life or their future away to bondage and none of us subscribed to the view that decisions about our country and our furure can and have been made by our past leaders and heroes and that they can no longer be changed or altered. I say that they can if the circumstances determine that this must be so. And if you do not give us our rights eventually we will exercise them by force and regardless of how you feel.

As much as I am amongst those that have criticised the Goodluck Jonathan administration forcefully, objectively and vigorously over some of their policies in the last few months let me make two things clear. Firstly my criticisms are borne out of my concern for our country and nothing else. I have nothing against Mr. President personally other than the fact that by not getting it right he is playing into the hands of the ”born to rule” northern cabal who believe that he does not have a right to be President simply because he is an Ijaw man. This cabal believes that no southerner should have the right to rule in peace without being told what to do or being teleguided or controlled by them.

They have sworn to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan and we are now seeing the results of that threat. For the record let me just warn these ethnic supremacists that they must not misconstrue the position that some of us have taken when it comes to this government and it’s policies as an endorsement of their deeply conspiratorial and despicable ethnic agenda. I should also add that Jonathan must not die under any mysterious circumstances. If this were to happen there would be no Nigeria left afterwards. This is because we that are from the south, together with our compatriots from the Middle Belt will rise up, join hands together and resist the Phillistines, the Amalekites and the usurpers in our midst to the last man.

By the time it is all over they will know that it is only when you kill a madman that you will know that he has friends and family. The new Nigeria has no place and no room for those that believe in the ”born to rule” philosophy or those that subscribe to any form of Boko Harm or Taliban-style islamic fundamentalism. We will not tolerate it, we will not bow to it and we will resist it with every fibre of our being.

I have said it before and I will say it again- if Nigeria is not a place that every ethnic nationality is regarded as being equal and is treated as such then let there be no more Nigeria. There is nothing that is sacrosanct about a forced union of incompatibles. If you are in a bad marriage you get out of it before you kill each other. The Lugardian ”poor husband of the north” cannot force the ”rich wife of the south” to remain in this unholy and iniquitous union for much longer unless the terms are right and unless there is equity and justice for all.

The mistake we made in 1967 by not standing on Aburi will not be repeated. The days of the master/servant relationship that we have witnessed between the north and the south for 51 years of our national existence are long over and they shall never return again. This country is moving forward and she is not going back and if Presdent Goodluck Jonathan can just get his act together and vigorously resist the hegemonist giants in the land he would have my full support and that of millions of others. This is the time for a new vision for our country. It is the time for new leaders who are ready to stand up and speak the truth about our precarious state of affairs and about the direction in which our nation must go. It is the time to talk about the convening of a Sovereign National Conference and to answer the Nationality Question. It is the time for courage. Let us not take our unity for granted or treat it as ”a given”. Nigeria must change, she must be restructured, she must be reformed and she must make every single ”Nigerian” believe that he or she can get to the top regardless of their nationality or faith. Other than that, whether we like it or not, Nigeria will eventually break.

Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is a two time former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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A Word For Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – By Femi Fani-Kayode http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/01/25/re-a-word-for-sanusi-lamido-sanusi-by-femi-fani-kayode/ http://newnigerianpolitics.com/2012/01/25/re-a-word-for-sanusi-lamido-sanusi-by-femi-fani-kayode/#respond Thu, 26 Jan 2012 05:09:54 +0000 http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=17219 By Femi Fani-Kayode, NNP, Jan. 25. 2012 – I read Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s article about of my friend Mallam Nasir El-Rufai with amusement (”Sanusi Lamido On El Rufai”  @ Omojuwa.com) and I have to say that I was pleased with the fact that he wrote it. I am glad that he has reiterated his love for Nasir and expressed his tremendous respect for him. He has also spoken very well about Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who is also a good friend of mine and he has said that anyone that is their enemy is his enemy too. I am happy for him and when it comes to both Nasir and Nuhu most people know that these are precisely my sentiments as well. 
 
As I have always said these are the two people that gave me hope that we could have a united Nigeria again where northerners and southerners could live and work together. I cannot say the same about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who I have always found a little bit more complicated ever since I have known him in the days of the Progressive Action Movement in 2001. We were both members of that vibrant political association and we often clashed in terms of our world view and our vision of what Nigeria should be. I remember those days with fondness and we have both come a long way since then. At that time, as he quite rightly said in his essay, I was a a regionalist and Yoruba nationalist who did not believe in a united Nigeria anymore simply due to what the Abacha administration had put our people through and due to the June 12th annulment. I was also a hard-line foot soldier of NADECO and I reflected the thinking of every self-respecting Yoruba man at that time. I believed then, and I still believe today, that if we cannot have a Nigeria where all people are treated as equals regardless of tribe or faith then we should not have a Nigeria at all. People like Sanusi opposed that view and they believed, and possibly still do, that some Nigerians were born to rule and that some faiths are greater than others. And yes, at that time, my views about President Olusegun Obasanjo were precisely what Sanusi said. 
 
I, together with virtually every other self-respecting Yoruba man at the time, regarded him as a tool of the north and that he was brought in to serve their interests in 1999 and as a pawn to stop the Yorubas from breaking away. That is what we all believed and that is why Obasanjo was overwhelmingly rejected by his people in the 1999 Presidential election. It was after my brother Chief Akin Osuntokun took me for a series of meetings with Obasanjo and after Uncle Bola Ige, his Attorney General and my mentor and leader, encouraged me to get closer to him that I knew that Obasanjo had changed and that his intention was to serve all Nigerians and not just the north. This was precisely why I joined his government and after serving him for three years as his spokesman he, thankfully, promoted me to the position of a Federal Minister in two separate Ministries which is a position that Sanusi is yet to achieve. 
  
Now to the point of this contribution. What I find curious about Sanusi’s article is the following. He expresses so much love for El-Rufai and Ribadu yet he so gladly served a government that tried to kill and discredit them both and that drove them into exile and yet he said nothing in their defence publically at that time. I see that as a contradiction but then that may just be his way. People have different ways of manifesting their loyalty to their friends so let me give Sanusi the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he was not playing a double game of deceit and subterfuge. My own style and approach to friendship is very different. When I give my friendship or enmity I give it totally but I am always uncomfortable with those that swim with the tide. And I am loyal to a fault to my friends, followers and leaders unless and until they give me a cause not to be. More importantly I could not for the life of me understand why Sanusi felt the need to bring me into his love letter to Nasir El-Rufai. What the relevance of my name was in what was an otherwise brilliant article is something that is beyond me. 
  
Clearly he brought me into it in bad faith and with malicious intent and I suppose he has every reason to do so given the role that I played in the oil subsidy debate and because I referred to his boss, the Minister of Finance, Ngozie Okonjo-Iweala, as an agent of the IMF and the World Bank. There is also another reason which has to do with the various intellectual clashes that we have had over the years. I thought that he had got over the series of heated debates that we used to have in the newspapers when he was a public commentator and when I was a NADECO foot-soldier 10 to 15 years ago but evidently I was wrong. On his part the bitterness is still very much there. Yet despite that what I found curious about him was the fact that in his celebrated contribution on El-Rufai he boastfully asserted that I had written ”in defence of Nasir” and that the words used were mine and ”not El-Rufai’s”. 
 
Where on earth he got the idea that I was seeking to represent Nasir’s views or speak for him on this matter I don’t know. I challenge him to produce the article in which I wrote in defence of El-Rufai on the oil subsidy issue. Nasir is a respected friend but I am not his spokesman. I have spoken up for him on various occasions when lies are told about him just as he has done for me but on this occasion the issue was ”oil subsidy” and not El Rufai. What I wrote about the removal of the oil subsidy was my own contribution to the raging debate and I believe that as someone that has been in active politics for 21 years and that was part and parcel of those that brought the Goodluck Jonathan and Yar’adua administration into power, I have a right and duty to do so. Whenever and if ever he becomes a Federal Minister or even works at the very highest level of government and not just at Central Bank he will appreciate the burning desire one has to contribute to national discourse whenever one sees fit. 
  
My contributions to the oil subsidy debate, which were encapsulated in just two articles titled ”Who Will Deliver Us From This Goodluck ” and ” The Problem Is Mrs. Ngozie Okonjo-Iweala” respectively were both directed at his two bosses, namely Mr. President and the Minister of Finance who he reports to, and they did not have anything to do with El-Rufai. Nasir’s views and mine on the removal of the oil subsidy just happen to be the same but my write-ups had already been published in various newspapers before he publically expressed his views on the matter in his brilliant interview on AIT. Sanusi also criticised my words and writing style in a subliminal manner which is certainly his right and prerogative. But frankly as regards my style and the words I used in this matter I have no apology and it is clear that I reflected the sheer disgust and anger that most Nigerians had about the removal of the oil subsidy. And that disgust was directed more at the hardliners in the Jonathan administration like him and Ngozie than anyone else because the removal of the oil subsidy was their brain-child and they sought to justify it. 
  
Sanusi spent many hours on television trying to pontificate to the Nigerian people about the ”blessings” and ”beauty” of having our pump price at 145 naira per litre but unfortunately for them they failed to convince anyone but themselves. Frankly they should both resign now and they would have done so if people placed any stock or value on honour and decency in this country. Let us not forget that many people were killed over this issue and there was much brutality displayed in the streets by the government’s security agents. As we speak there are still soldiers deployed in the streets of Lagos. And some of us feel bad about this series of events and we blame people like Sanusi for misleading our President. People like him are completely detached and they simply have no empathy with or compassion for the ordinary people and neither can they identify with their hardship and suffering. That is the difference between a technocrat from the strange world of international high finance like Sanusi and a politician, lawyer, ”freelance contributor” and ”public commentator” like me. We have a feel of what the people are going through and what they will or will not take but they do not. I congratulate him on whatever feelings and affection he may have suddenly re-cultivated and rediscovered for Nasir but frankly this has nothing to do with me and he should leave me out of it. Regardless of all I still wish my banker friend well and I will certainly lose no sleep over what he thinks or writes about me.

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