Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, responds to the reactions trailing his rumoured bid to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
Trap, spy claims
Over the last week, millions of Nigerians have expressed concern about which direction I am going politically and much has been said.
Some have gone out of their way to reach out to me and offered their counsel out of genuine love and concern.
Others have not reached out to me and have written or spoken out of ignorance, hate and malice imputing the worst motivations for actions that they claim I have purportedly taken.
This contribution is an attempt to provide answers to just a few of the oftentimes asinine and absurd assertions and observations that the latter group has made.
Some say they warned me and that I have fallen into a trap whilst others say my voice has been silenced, I am a spy and that this signals the end of my political career.
My response to them and others who have conjured up even stranger motivations and conspiracy theories when it comes to FFK is as follows:
To whom it may concern: spare me your crocodile tears and be rest assured that I am too big, too intelligent, too experienced and too forthright to fall into any trap.
It is impossible to castrate a lion, render it impotent or silence its roar.
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I stand on all my beliefs, core values and principles. I am the voice of the voiceless, I am a warrior, I fear nothing, I fear no-one, I am as constant as the northern star and I will ALWAYS stand against evil.
Speaking to other leaders across party lines in order to build bridges, engender peace, foster stability and enhance national unity ought not to create such national and international rage, panic and pandemonium.
Are we so divided that we can’t even talk to one another and take pictures together without causing a public stir and setting the Internet on fire?
You insult me and say I am scared of prison because I had a meeting with two APC governors?
Do you know how many PDP and APC governors and leaders I interact with and meet regularly? Do you know how many I talk to on a daily basis?
Do you know that I was prosecuted for seven years by PDP governments which tried to jail me simply for speaking out against them yet it did not deter me? Ask those that were in the Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations.
After a while, they got tired because the more they tried to intimidate me into silence or make me flee the country, the more I stood my ground and fought from my corner till they gave up.
Does that sound like a man that is scared of death or prison?
You insult me and say I am broke because I had talks with two APC governors.
Do you know that what I spend on salary in one month is more than what some of these people that are claiming I am broke earn in five or 10 years?
I have 55 domestic staff in my house alone. Not one of them gets below 70,000 naira per month which is higher than the national minimum wage.
I do not owe salaries and I feed each of the three square meals every day.
I do all this just to help them and to ensure they can look after and feed their families. Does that sound like a broke?
That is my little contribution to the welfare of our people because I certainly do not need so many staff. I employ them just to keep them off the unemployment line.
Apart from that, do you know how many people I give scholarships to and how many people’s children I feed and educate? Do you know how many other families I am responsible for in terms of day-to-day living?
The Bible says “be your brother’s keeper” and I do these things unto the Lord. I do them and I will never stop even when my good is repaid with evil.
The Lord has always provided for me and given me the fat of the land. He has always caused me to be a blessing to others though I do not make noise about it.
For the last 60 years of my life, He has been good to me. He has caused me to excel, prosper and flourish and from beginning to end He has always been with me and mine.
You say I make money through politics; meanwhile, I left public office in 2007 which is 13 years ago! Does that make sense to you? In any case, is politics my only source of income?
Am I your conventional politician who craves elective office? Do I even attend their meetings? I have been in this game since 1990!
I have been making contributions to current affairs, political discourse and politics for the past 31 years which is long before most of today’s governors or Ministers even knew the meaning of the word.
And it was always a struggle that involved sacrifice. Where were my detractors when I was in NADECO and fought against the military rule?
The records are there and so are the essays and some of the people I worked with.
Where were they when we set up September Club in 1989 and some of the nation’s greatest leaders and elder statesmen and top politicians over the last 30 years, including presidents, governors, Ministers and legislators across party lines, were members?
Where were they in the days of NRC, SDP and Choice ’92 when politics was real, when the greats held sway and when men honoured their word?
Where were they when we risked all for MKO Abiola’s stolen mandate and June 12th and even had to go into exile for years because of it?
Where were they when we stood against the annulment of June 12th and fought against the government of General Sani Abacha?
Where were they when we formed the Progressive Action Movement in 1999 and some of the nation’s brightest and best young stars and minds made their contribution to national affairs?
Where were they when we fought against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who was allegedly sent to destroy the PDP?
Where were they when I led President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign in 2015 and took the battle to the gates of the enemy?
Where were they when I stood behind President Olusegun Obasanjo and faced down ALL his detractors?
Where were they when I was targeted and almost assassinated on two separate occasions during the Obasanjo presidency simply because I was the President’s defender-in-chief and armour bearer and was totally committed to his cause?
I did all this in the past and present and you say I am making money from it? Do you know the risks involved in these things?
Do you know I could have been killed together with members of my family long ago and most certainly would have had it not been for God?
Can my detractors give up so much and risk so much just for politics? Honestly, it really is the deepest insult.
Wealth and politics
Some of us were born into wealth and have never lacked it. We were born into politics too. We were born into the circles of power so nothing moves us.
For us, politics is a noble calling and not a profession. It is about proffering solutions to complex national issues and not about the acquisition of primitive wealth.
We gave up all for the struggle for democracy and the opportunity to help to develop our country and move her forward and now we are insulted and mocked and told we did it for money? Which money?
How much can I be bought or bribed with? All the money in the world could not move me because I have never lacked it.
What have I not had or enjoyed in life from a very young age? Where have I not been?
I came to the conclusion long ago that all is vanity and that material wealth means nothing. I would never sacrifice my principles or integrity for it.
Mallam Abba Kyari, the President’s late and powerful Chief of Staff, was my brother for over 40 years and we interacted regularly whilst he was in power.
I never asked him for ANYTHING from his government just as I never asked or got ANYTHING from any of the previous Federal Governments between 2007 and 2021.
If I had done so I would not have been able to criticise those governments publicly and I would have been exposed. You cannot criticise where you eat from.
I did not join APC when Abba was in government and I did not compromise my principles when I could have asked him for anything since he had the ear of the President.
I respected and loved him for who he was and NOT for the position he held and the feeling was mutual.
I opposed his government in spite of our friendship and did not share his views yet we remained friends because our friendship was well above politics.
That is what civilised people do. They agree to disagree and respect each other’s views. They never let it come between their friendship.
I opposed Abba’s government and risked losing an old and loyal friend and brother because I believed passionately in all I said. I believed all that I said then and I still believe it today.
All that and now you dare to question my resolve and consistency? It is laughable.
You say I am inconsistent. Meanwhile, I have been more consistent in my views over the last 30 years than 95% of Nigerian leaders and I have stuck to my guns despite all manner of persecution and suffering!
You say I have no relevance meanwhile millions all over the world read my words avidly every day and follow my actions religiously because I inspire them due to the fact that I have always had the courage of my convictions and I have always spoken truth to power.
Unlike most politicians, I actually inspire people and give them hope. And most important of all they trust me and trust my judgment.
They have also acknowledged the fact that more often than not my words are prophetic and I have displayed remarkable insight and foresight when it comes to national affairs.
How many of your so-called “relevant” leaders have done that? How many of them have displayed such courage under fire for years on end?
How many of them can have their newspaper columns in three national dailies closed over the years due to threats to the publishers from the government and yet keep writing their essays on social media with millions of people all over the world still reading them and receiving the message?
How many of them can be blacklisted by newspapers and television stations with threatening orders from above and still keep talking?
How many of them across party lines can mould the thoughts and guide millions in this way with their counsel, words, actions and thoughts?
First seven years of persecution under PDP then five years of persecution under APC! HOW many of your leaders can stand such fire and pain and still fight on?
Almost all of them ever do is sell you down the river, tell you lies, ignore your pain, deceive you, mock you, use you and give you crumbs in return for your acclamation, support and loyalty but you love them for that.
You say I am scared of even more persecution. At the age of 60, you believe I am scared?
What more can they do to me that they have not done already? And what more am I looking for in life that I have not enjoyed over the years?
Yet you say I am scared! And those that say so can barely endure one-tenth of what I have endured.
Some of them make noise from the safety of other countries and stay away from Nigeria out of fear of being locked up yet they mock those of us that live on the doorsteps of our oppressors in Nigeria and dare them to their faces.
Some of them have not been able to face hardship or deprivation and neither can they bear it when their rights are being violated.
Yet to many of us this has become the norm and we are used to it yet we still continue to struggle and fight the system regardless. Let me give you just one example. Do you know that I have not been able to travel out of Nigeria for the last 13 years because my passport was first seized by a PDP government for eight years and then by an APC government for five years?
Do you know that I could not even go for medical check-ups outside the country because of that?
Locked up with B/Haram suspects
Did you ever hear me complain or did this ever stop me from speaking truth to power, standing firm against injustice or speaking up for the weak, the persecuted and the voiceless?
Do you know I was locked up by both PDP and APC Federal Governments for no just cause?
Do you know I was even locked up in Boko Haram detention centres with Boko Haram suspects?
Do you know that only terrorists were kept in the facility that they kept me? Do you know that that place was worse than Guantanamo Bay and that it was built by the British government?
Do you know how terrifying that was and that I could have been killed or maimed whilst there?
Yet did you ever hear me complain about it, submit, compromise, give up or back down from criticising the government or previous governments because of these trials and tribulations?
How many of your so-called “relevant” and “great” leaders can bear such torment and injustice without cracking? Did you ever see or hear me crack? Did I ever break?
Do you know what horrors my first wife Regina and my daughter Remi were subjected to by a PDP government? Do you know why they had to go into exile and live abroad?
Do you know what hell my ex-wife Precious and first son Aragorn were subjected to by the APC government?
Do you know the tears we shed secretly and the number of times we suffered and were forced to go underground for no just cause?
Do you know the kind of stress and torment this put us through? Do you know that all our bank accounts were frozen for five years?
Did all that stop me or stop us from standing? Did we not endure and bear it all with dignity for years and still continue to make our contribution to national affairs with zeal and passion?
Yet leaders like me that make these sacrifices and speak the truth you describe as having no relevance, no consistency and you hate.
You mock, ridicule, insult and believe the very worst about us at the drop of a hat. Some even have the nerve and effrontery to say we are not politicians simply because we have not run for elective office.
It is those who speak the truth and that is courageous enough to expose and confront the evil that you hate, judge and always think and assume the worse off at the drop of a hat.
Do you know that despite facing the most vicious persecution and prosecution for seven long years the court found me not guilty of corruption whilst I was Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism and acquitted and discharged me?
How many of your leaders can endure going to court for seven years before four different judges and in the midst of a vicious media witch-hunt in which most people who knew nothing about the case had declared me guilty?
How many of you could have survived that without capitulating, cracking, begging and bending the knee?
Do you know that I have been facing prosecution for the past five years in two separate courts for doing absolutely nothing wrong except leading a presidential campaign against Buhari and for Jonathan in 2015 and as a consequence of politically-motivated and malicious charges which were filed only because of my bitter and vicious opposition to the Buhari government?
Do you know that under my tenure as Minister of Aviation there were no plane crashes whilst the year before I came in there were five and 453 died in those crashes?
Do you know that I put a stop to those crashes and that I am the only Minister of Aviation in Nigerian history under which there were NO plane crashes?
Do you know that despite all the challenges and persecution I was recently polled by 85% of the readers of Vanguard Newspaper that I was the loudest and most consistent voice of opposition against the Buhari government over the last five years?
All this yet you label me a coward and someone that has achieved nothing?
Do you know that most of those leaders you revere and love so much are cowards who are unable and unwilling to risk all and speak truth to power?
All they are able to do is to mislead you and their followers to hate and insult those of us that really care for you.
Honestly, some people need mental health checks and medical attention!
And for anyone to say I will not be welcome in a party that I have not publicly expressed a desire to join amazes me.
The joker that claimed I was rejected by the APC needs to tell me where and when I applied to join them and what my registration number was!
Did I tell you I am leaving PDP for APC? Or did I tell anyone that I will stay in PDP forever no matter what happens or no matter what they do to me or to the country?
You see, unlike most, I am a one-man army and riot squad and I am accountable to no man or party. I am only accountable to God!
Unlike most, I do not do things in the dark and I do not shy away from speaking the truth or my mind once it is set.
When and if I ever choose to make a move I will be clear and categorical and I will let the world know, so hold your hate fire till we get to that bridge.
Yet know this: I owe no-one any explanation for what I will do or will not do tomorrow, I will gladly live with the consequences of my actions and decisions and I will defend myself and explain my actions when I choose to do so if I believe it is ever necessary.
2023 realignments, new alliances
I do not know what the details are yet but, before 2023, there WILL be many realignments and new alliances. Both parties will see many shifts and many individuals will change sides.
This is because we must get it right in 2023 and we must ensure that whoever takes power at the centre, regardless of party affiliation, restructures our country and takes our nation to the promised land.
We must build bridges and secure the peace, unity and progress of this country and most important of all we must avoid civil war and do all we can to save our nation from armed conflict and fratricidal butchery.
That is the challenge before us today and that is the reality of Nigerian politics.
Whilst others meet secretly and hide from the cameras in their quest to achieve these objectives, I will not. I am the beloved of the Lord and I am a LION!