By owei Lakemfa
THERE are basis to conclude that Femi Fani-Kayodeâ€™s memory is either fading or he is not acquainted with the readily available literature of the 1966Â coup.Â This can be gleaned from his claims about where his father was taken to in Lagos.Â He claimed: â€œThey (the coupists) decided to take him to Bonny Camp in Lagos which happened to be still within the control of the loyalist federal forcesâ€.
Yet anybody who makes a perfunctory reading of that coupâ€™s literature would know that his father (Fani Power) was taken to the Federal Guards Officersâ€™ Mess, not Bonny camp.
There is yet another claim by Femi about what happened to his father after his abduction.Â He claimed: â€œThey were supposed to take my father to an army barracks in Abeokuta but, miraculously, they couldnâ€™t find their way.Â They now decided to take him to Bonny Camp in Lagosâ€.
Let us contrast this with the report of Major Ademoyega:
â€œCaptain Nwobosi had been ordered to bring his unitâ€™s 100 mm pack Howitzer with some live rounds to Lagos after his Ibadan operations, so as to support us in our Lagos operations.Â Nwobosi acted accordingly.Â He ordered one of his sergeants to return to Abeokuta and collect the gun plus live ammunition and a team of twelve gunners.Â They were to report to the 2nd Battalion Barracks, Ikeja.
The sergeant did exactly as he was commanded. But when he arrived at the Ikeja Cantonment with his crew, they were all arrested.Â Before then, captain Nwobosi himself and his second in command and a few soldiers had driven straight from Ibadan to Lagos in the Land Rover.Â They took the arrested Chief Fani-Kayode with themâ€.
Femi had tried to portray this incident as a miracle; that God caused confusion amongst the soldiers and they could not find their way back to their Abeokuta base.Â But Ademoyegaâ€™s report clearly showed that taking Fani Power to Lagos was a conscious decision and not that the soldiers who drove from Abeokuta did not know their way back.
Femiâ€™s claim is ridiculous: The road to Abeokuta from Ibadan is at the Apata end while that to Lagos is almost at the opposite end of the city, the Challenge area near the present Ibadan-Lagos expressway.
There is a far more ridiculous account by Femi of his fatherâ€™s release from captivity which he presented like a Western movie.Â He claimed that his father â€œwas inÂ the middle of the room (in the officers mess) in which the bitter exchange of gun fire took place.Â He was tied up and he was sitting in the middle of the room and any of those thousands of bullets flying around him could have killed him.Â But God spared his life and I thank him for that.Â That experience in itself was very traumatic and it was a defining moment for meâ€.
The fabrication here is too obvious to warrant any serious analysis.Â Does Femi know what it means for tens of bullets to fly in opposition directions in a room and for somebody tied up in the middle not to be hit, not to claim that â€œthousandsâ€ of bullets were flying in the room?Â Even if his father told him such a school boy tale should he now, as an adult relate it uncritically?
Again, we need to compare
Femiâ€™s account of his fatherâ€™s â€œmiraculousâ€ escape from thousands of bullets, and the account of the army officer who set his father free.Â The then Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon (later General) led a group of soldiers from the Ikeja Cantonment to engage the coup plotters.
In his authorised biography Gowon by Professor J. Isawa Elaigwu, the story of Fani powerâ€™s rescue is related.
â€œâ€¦ The Gowon detachment proceeded to the Officersâ€™ Mess where it was thought the real operation was to be mounted.
Gowonâ€™s first thought was to throw a grenade into the Mess.Â He changed his mind and decided to force an entry.Â This probably saved Fani-Kayodeâ€™s life.Â The detachment found Fani-Kayode (who was to be used to broadcast by the coup makers) in the Mess.Â He was taken to one of the guest houses in Ikoyi as none of the coup-makers could be found inside the Mess.Â In fact, the rebels had raced out across the golf courseâ€.
From Gowonâ€™s account, no shot was fired as the coup plotters had fled. So, where did Femi get his fable of â€œthousands of bullets flyingâ€ around his father?
In any case, who should we believe; the account of a six-year old boy who was not present when his father was freed or that of the Lt. Colonel who actually released him?
I am not a fan of General Gowon, but I do not have any reason to believe that he would tell a lie on Fani Powerâ€™s release.Â If indeed there had been an exchange of gun fire, Gowon would have stated so as it would have portrayed him as a heroic soldier who engaged rebel troops in armed combat where â€œthousandsâ€ of bullets flew. Given Femiâ€™s proclivity to manufacture events when he was fighting Obasanjoâ€™s real and imagined enemies, I am inclined to believe Gowon, not him.
Inevitably, Femi in adulthood has his own tales to yarn.Â He claimed that he was so involved in the pro-democracy campaign to oust militaryÂ rule that he went into exile.Â I was involved in that struggle and I have made enquiries; there is no record of Femiâ€™s active involvement in that campaign. This is a tale he is telling his own children.