I HAD intended not to dignify Femi Fani Kayode with any response since he decided to dance naked in the market place. Somebody ought to have reminded him that those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones. He has only himself to blame about his unpalatable past which has been on display all over Facebook in the last few days.
In the first place, I no longer have any iota of doubt that his articles are products of a sick mind. For instance, he claimed that all Igbos are vulgar.
My response to this is that Fani Kayode is not only vulgar and obscene but outrightly morally depraved. How can any sane man disclose the lurid details of his escapades with the opposite sex on the pages of newspapers all in the name of proving that he is not a tribalist?
Hear him: “I was not a tribalist when I had a long-standing and intimate relationship with Miss Bianca Onoh, an Igbo lady, who many years later married Ojukwu and who is now our Ambassador in Spain. I was not a tribalist when I had a long-standing and intimate relationship with Miss Chioma Anasoh, another Igbo lady, who I almost took as a second wife. I was not a tribalist when I had a long-standing and intimate relationship with Miss Adaobi Uchegbu, another Igbo lady, who was exceptionally close to me and who is now at the National Headquarters of the ruling PDP.”
Kayode was also laughable when he wrote: “I was not a tribalist when I wrote an essay, just two years ago, extolling the virtues of Igbo women and telling the world about their sudden and meteoric rise and how far they had gone in the power circles of this country in the last 10 years.”
The complete illogicality of his argument was further exposed when he wrote:
“I was not a tribalist when many years ago I attended and gave my life to Christ in a church called TREM, which was established by a great Igbo man by the name of Bishop Mike Okonkwo.”
He further exposed his irrationality by presenting another position which could at best be described as non-sequitor in logic.
According to him: “I was not a tribalist when my grandfather, Justice Victor Adedapo Kayode, taught Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe at Methodist Boys High School in Lagos and when my father, Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode, was appointed as the leader of the predominantly Igbo NCNC in the Western Regional House of Assembly”.
Pray, what is the relationship between Femi’s religious beliefs who once worshipped in Bishop Mike Okonkwo’s church and his attempt to deny that he is a tribalist? Was he trying to say a tribalist could never attend Bishop Okonkwo’s Church or what?
Again, of what relevance is the fact that his grand father Justice Victor Kayode taught Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, to the issue at hand?
Another evidence that the man is a very poor example of what a graduate of Cambridge University should be, was his response to some of the rejoinders that have been written about his “scholarly” articles.
The self-acclaimed blue-blooded Kayode stated: “The shameless and emotional thrash and disjointed verbiage that have been described as rejoinders so far are just not up to scratch. They are bereft of any scholarship and intellectual content. They also invoke (sic) pity in me for the faceless plebeians that wrote them and those they claim to be speaking for.”
In his effort to whip up anti-Igbo sentiments, he was very effusive in his emotional outbursts. According to him Igbos hate Yorubas “and only pretend to believe in one Nigeria as long as they can always have their way and laud(sic) it over others. Worst of all, generally speaking, they have no restraining factors because money and the acquisition of wealth is their sole objective and purpose in life.”
He continued: “They have labelled the Yoruba as tribalists and Igbo-haters simply because we have refused to accept their claims to our land and territory and even though we were more charitable, hospitable, accommodating and generous to them than any other nationality in Nigeria after the civil war.
“They have labelled the Northerners as tribalists and Igbo-haters simply because the North has refused to tolerate their excesses and accept their complicated ways. They have labelled the Niger Deltans as tribalists and Igbo-haters simply due to the ”abandoned property issue” and because historically many of them have always resisted the idea of Igbo domination.”
Another evidence which clearly indicates that Femi is not only possessed of a confused mind but lacks good education, came few days after his first article claiming he had intimate relationships with some Igbo ladies.
The statement which was issued on his behalf indicated that he never meant to convey the impression that he had slept with the Igbo ladies whose names he mentioned earlier.
For Femi’s information, among the entries for the word ‘intimate’ as contained in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of English is: “having a sexual relationship especially outside marriage”.
So, how can a so-called graduate of Cambridge not know the meaning of words he used in an essay he claims is a scholarly article?
Worse still, what explanation does he have for engaging in the use of malapropism like’ invoke’ in the place of ‘evoke’?
Now to address Femi’s claim that Igbos are not only strangers in Lagos but have made little or no contribution to the economic development of the state.
In the first place, there are historical accounts which indicate that Igbos have been present in Lagos since the 16th century. The Aros- a sub group among the Igbos- were said to have settled in Oyingbo in those early days. The Binis who colonized Lagos and the Aros had a long historical association. Ancient Igbo history indicates that the Aros occupied a prominent place in the ancient Bini Empire which extended to Lagos and present day Benin Republic.
Secondly, it is an incontrovertible fact that Igbos are heavily involved in the contemporary commercial life of Lagos State. For instance, it is indisputable that Igbo traders are not only well represented in all the major markets in the Lagos metropolis, they are clearly dominant in several of them. Even though ours is a society that lacks records, there is abundant evidence to convince all the Femis of this world if they want the truth on this matter.
For instance, the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson reportedly said not too long ago that the Computer Village Market in Ikeja-Lagos, which is heavily dominated by Igbo traders generates about two billion dollars (?N300 billion ?) for the Nigerian economy annually.
Other markets where Igbo traders dominate overwhelmingly include ASPAMDA Market-which was built on the site of the old International Trade Fair-; Alaba International Electronics Market and Ladipo Motor Spare Parts Market. Igbo traders constitute not less than 50 percent in Balogun, Mandilas, Idumota and other markets within Lagos Island. Other markets with heavy presence of Igbo traders in Lagos include those located in Oshodi, Yaba, Ajegunle and Agboju.
Although, I cannot give an accurate estimate of what these markets collectively generate in the economy of Lagos State, there is no doubt that they generate more than triple what is generated by the Computer Village Market, that is N900 billion annually.
How can Femi dismiss those who presently generate a conservative amount of N900 billion annually in the economy of Lagos as inconsequential?
In terms of physical development of Lagos, Igbos have also contributed massively.
Media reports indicate that most of Ikeja, Ojo, Anthony, Maryland and Okota were essentially swampy and bushy until Igbos moved in. For instance, Ekene Dili Chukwu Motors was one of the first companies to move into Allen Avenue in the early 1980s .
The late Igwe J.O. Obi, was by the late 1970s, reported to be the first to move into Ire Akari Estate in Isolo, when the whole area was a complete bush.
He was also said to have moved his company, Interland Transport, into the Amuwo Adofin Industrial Estate first and brought telephone lines there when it was a vast area of sandy-muddy soil. Presently, a well-developed industrial estate sits in that area. Igbos in fact developed Isolo and Okota areas; they single handedly developed the whole of Olodi-Apapa, Coker and Ojo areas.
Indeed, the history of the economic development of Lagos nay that of the entire country cannot be complete without a prominent mention of the role of the Igbos.
In case Femi doesn’t know, the likes of the Late Sir Louis Ojukwu
contributed immensely to the development of Lagos. He was the founding president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange which still has its headquarters in Lagos.
It is also worthy of note that during Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to Nigeria in the year 1956, Sir Louis Ojukwu made his Rolls Royce car available for the Queen’s carriage as the Nigerian government could not afford a Rolls Royce at that time.
Despite their massive contribution to the economy of Lagos State, Igbos have never at anytime laid claim to ownership of Lagos land. The phrase “no man’s land” which Femi accused Igbos of using to refer to Lagos may have been a fall-out of the fact that Lagos was Nigeria’s federal capital until 1991. It is within this context that I believe former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu used this phrase.
Just like Abuja of today, a large chunk of Lagos land belongs to the Federal Government up till now. Indeed, it was the status of Lagos as a federal capital for many years that attracted large numbers of Igbos to settle there. Natives of Lagos just like those of Abuja today, lost a lot of their land during this period. It might interest Femi to know that many Nigerians refer to today’s FCT with that same phrase.
Femi exhibited his Igbophobia in the manner he twisted the nation’s history as it relates to the crisis that led to the civil war. His narration of that dark era of our nation’s history reflects his belief that the Igbos were to blame for what befell them.
However, the truth of the matter is that the January 15, 1966 coup d’état was a spill over of the political crisis which erupted in the Western Region. Indeed, Femi’s father Chief Remi Fani Kayode played a major role in that crisis as Deputy Premier of Western Region under Sir Ladoke Akintola.
The crisis actually began in 1962 when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was jailed for treason. It got worse with the massively rigged federal elections of 1964 and the equally rigged Western Regional elections of 1965. The Awolowo /SLA Akintola political feud was at the epicenter of this crisis which eventually led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the region.
The officer corps of the military was dominated by Igbos at the time the soldiers intervened to sack a very corrupt civilian administration. It is therefore not surprising that among the five majors who planned and executed the military putsch of January 1966, four were Igbos and one was Yoruba. The young officers had actually planned a revolution. Some accounts of the incident even indicated that they had planned to free Awolowo from Prison and hand over the reins of government to him. However, they failed to accomplish their mission.
The five Majors as documented by many authors were Emmanuel Ifejuna, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Christian Anuforo, Timothy Onwatuegwu and Wale Ademoyega.
Some authors also mentioned Major Donatus Okafor as one of the plotters.
There is no doubt that given the pattern of killings they carried out, the impression was created that it was an Igbo agenda to seize power by force. However, it took Major Wale Ademoyega, the only officer among the five -who survived the civil war-to debunk the propaganda that what they executed was an Igbo coup. All these are contained in Ademoyega’s book entitled “Why We Struck”.
Assuming, Femi was right, that it was a coup carried out by Igbo officers who perhaps hired Ademoyega to cover up, shouldn’t Murtala Mohammed and his comrades who carried out the counter coup of July 29 1966, have been contented with slaughtering the Head of State Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi and almost all the Igbo officers in the Nigerian Army in just one night? What was the justification in extending the killings to hundreds of thousands of the Igbo civilian population including pregnant women and children? Femi’s belief that the Igbos deserved to be slaughtered like chicken because they were loud in their celebration of the January 1966 coup reveals his deep-seated hatred for the Igbos.
Finally, if the Igbos who were in majority in the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) were so bad as Femi painted them in his write-ups, why did his father, the late Remi Fani- Kayode defect from the Action Group to the NCNC in 1959 and remained there until the collapse of the first republic?
Why did his father rebel against Awolowo and went ahead to serve as Deputy Premier of Western Region under the much demonized Akintola?
Mr. OKEY NDIRIBE, a journalist, wrote from Abuja