By Owei Lakemfa
GENERAL SANI Abacha during his bloody reign had an attack ‘dog’ called Wada Nas.Â A tailor of fabrications, Nas conjured legions of imaginary plots against Abacha and attacked his opponents.
The public called him Wada Noise, a pun on his name. When retired General Olusegun Obasanjo became president, he thought he needed somebody in the mould of Wada Nas, he found him in Oluwafemi David Adewunmi Fani-Kayode.
Femi,Â like Hitlerâ€™s Paul Joseph Goebbels was very good at his job.
There was no scheme he could not conjure against perceived opposition like Labour.Â No icon, like Wole Soyinka, was too sacred for him to attack and no office like that of the Vice President, then occupied by Atiku Abubakar, was too high for him to denigrate.
Femi argued â€œas they say, all is fair in love and warâ€. He recently crawled out of his hole to grant the NTAâ€™s Point Blank an interview which was reproduced in The Nation of October 15 and 16, 2009.
Femi was a gun for hire who Obasanjo robed in the rich attires of a minister; he was one of the injuries Obasanjo inflicted on the polity and may soon start claiming he is an â€œelder statesmanâ€.
In the NTA interview, he regaled listeners about his fatherâ€™s achievements and massive contributions to Nigeriaâ€™s politics.Â As expected some of his claims were at best, debatable and others were either fabrications or tales his father told him.
Chief Remilekun Adetokunbo Fani â€“ Kayode, Femiâ€™s father was quite controversial in the First Republic politics.Â Wole Soyinka in his â€œThe Man Diedâ€ characterised him as â€œthe self- proclaimed fascist and hatchet-manâ€.Â Better known as â€œFani Powerâ€ for his brand of politics, Femiâ€™s father who was the leader of the disbanded Action Group (AG) toughies, the â€œBlack Shirtsâ€, teamed up with another AG renegade, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola to found the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) on March 10, 1964.Â With that party, they wrestled control of the old Western Region from Chief Obafemi Awolowoâ€™s AG. This precipitated the â€œWetieâ€ conflagration that turned the region into the â€œwild, wild westâ€. Akintola became the premier of the region while Fani Power became his Deputy.
Victor Ladipo Akintola, Akintolaâ€™s son in his book, Akintola: The Man and the Legend, wrote that there were demands by the late Oba D. C. Akran that he with his richer political experience deserved to be Deputy Premier not Fani Power.Â He wrote: â€œIt was a silly, irrational demand since Fani-Kayode was a man whose extreme toughness would be useful to the party in the rough political ride that was to comeâ€. And the rough and tough times actually came with burning and looting, thuggery and murder of political opponents.
Victor wrote of the campaigns â€œChief Fani-Kayode, the Deputy Premier, bluntly told the electorate that if their votes were not forthcoming, the â€˜Angelsâ€™ would vote for the NNDPâ€”a clear implication that one way or the other the party would winâ€. Obviously by rigging.
This is Femiâ€™s pedigree in politics that he felt in the interview he had to polish to make attractive.Â He claimed that his father in July 1958 successfully moved the motion for Nigeriaâ€™s independence.
This is at best, contentious.
Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro on March 31, 1953 moved the historic motion for Nigeriaâ€™s independence
But arguing that the North was not ready for self government, Malam Ahmadu Bello amended the specific date of 1956 with the phrase â€œas soon as practicableâ€.Â It then became Akintolaâ€™s historic honour to retable the motion on March 26, 1957 which was passed by the parliament.
At the 1957 London Constitutional Conference, the British colonial masters argued that the three regions should first practice self-government constitutions before national independence and therefore got the independence date shifted to 1960.
There were of course subsequent modifications of the exact date until it was fine-tuned to October 1, 1960.Â It does not therefore mean that everybody who took part in this fine-turning â€œmoved the motion for Nigeriaâ€™s independenceâ€.Â But let us move from what is contestable to what are fabrications.
In the January 15, 1966 coup, Akintola was killed while Fani Power was abducted by the coup plotters.Â Femi said of his fatherâ€™s arrest. â€œHe went out to meet them in a very courageous way.Â He didnâ€™t fight them because he told us that if he started shooting from inside the house they may come in and kill us all.Â He said that it is him that they wanted and not us so he went out to meet themâ€.
Let us contrast this claim with the report of the incident written by Major Adewale Ademoyega one of the three master-minds of the coup who coordinated activities in the West.Â He wrote in his book, Why We struck: The Story of the First Nigerian Coup that: â€œAt H-Hour, they (the soldiers) were at the house of Chief Fani-Kayode. Having gained entry into the house, they summoned the Deputy Premier who surrendered to them without a fight.
Fani-Kayode came towards the soldiers with both hands up and shouting: ‘I surrender! Donâ€™tÂ kill me o! I beg! Donâ€™t kill me o’. The soldiers started to ask themselves if that was really the man called â€œFani-Power. Those who knew him confirmed that he wasâ€.
So was Fani Power the bold, courageous man who went out to meet the soldiers, or was he the jelly fish Ademoyega painted? To determine this, we need to look at the motives; Femi wants to rehabilitate his fatherâ€™s image while Ademoyega has no reason to potray Fani power as a coward.
*Continues next week
Read a reply by Chuks Akunna.