By JOHNSON MOMODU
CHIEF David Oluwafemi Adewunmi Abdulateef Fani-Kayode (Femi Fani-Kayode, for short), former Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Minister of Culture and Tourism, and former Minister of Aviation, is truly a remarkable fellow. Whenever he speaks or writes, he poses an intellectual challenge as to where to draw the line between normality and abnormality. The instances are numerous, but his last outing: “The gutless eunuch and the lion king”, published in The Nation of Friday, January 17, 2014, raised critical issues which the psychiatric community must tackle in the interest of the nation.
For the benefit of those who may not have any knowledge of the background and upbringing of the former Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode was born into an educated, well-to-do family. He had the opportunity of a good education and successfully graduated into the legal profession. Then, he went off the mark and has never been the same since then. The truth, however, is that it is strongly believed that a large number of psychologically ill patients suffer from recidivism- meaning that they are never totally healed.
However, it would be a colossal error to think that Fani-Kayode is an insane person who should, therefore, be treated accordingly. Of course, if he were, the asylum should be his permanent home and Nigerians would not take seriously whatever he says. He would probably neither have been appointed by Obasanjo as a presidential aide nor passed the Senate screening to become a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (some believe that there are many Nigerians in such high positions who cannot pass any psychiatric screening). If Fani-Kayode were categorised as insane, his actions and utterances would not be legally actionable.
Granting Fani-Kayode the benefit of the doubt, we must concede that he is a normal human being-although with some personal idiosyncrasies – who, like the rest of us, must be held accountable for his own actions. After all, apart from alleged acts of crass impunity and corruption when he held public office, Fani-Kayode was really not declared mentally ill by any qualified psychiatrist. Besides, he has been actively involved in politics, initially as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before moving to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from where he has become the most vitriolic critic of the Jonathan administration. Indeed, neither the PDP nor the APC has perceived Fani-Kayode as an unstable person.
The thrust of Fani-Kayode’s article of January 17 was to paint President Goodluck Jonathan as a weak leader who had failed to carry out his primary functions of protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians, especially those in the North Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. His main goal was to demonstrate to politicians from the North that the President did not care about them and that he (Jonathan) was working against their interests. To drive this point home, he reeled out unsubstantiated statistics and figures of lives lost and properties destroyed since the war against insurgency in the affected states.
The article was full of Fani-Kayode’s bitterness against President Jonathan whom he accused of insensitivity to the plight of the children of those areas of the North affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. He wondered whether “the President would have been so unperturbed and detached from the whole thing if the children who were killed in their school just weeks ago had been from his Niger Delta area.” In his view, President Jonathan wanted “the North to burn and Northern blood to be spilt.” He accused the President of having failed in his sworn oath of office to protect the lives and properties of those in the areas affected, “if the government can sit back and watch the locals slaughter themselves while they [sic] continue to drink champagne in the Villa.”
There can be nothing more inciting than the open declaration that a country’s President is watching while her citizens are being slaughtered or that the President, himself, is part of an agenda to slaughter the very citizens he was elected to protect. That, precisely, is what Fani-Kayode has done in his publication, which amounts to treason, if the accusation turns out to be baseless.
Given Fani-Kayode’s background and antecedents, what he wrote should not be a surprise. The only surprise is that these treasonable materials were published by a national newspaper, The Nation, whose proprietors want to grab power at all cost. Otherwise, how can a newspaper of that status be party to the accusation of the President in a so-called conspiracy to “encourage and create turmoil and chaos in the North just to ensure that they [sic] are excluded from voting in 2015” This national newspaper is also guilty of treason and incitement. And, unless they can establish the veracity of the allegations, both Fani-Kayode and the newspaper ought to take responsibility for their action and face the wrath of the law.
To show the gravity of Fani-Kayode’s accusations, as they affect national stability, the Jama’atu Nasir Islam, a powerful Islamic organisation in Northern Nigeria, recently issued a statement, accusing President Jonathan of waging war against Muslims through the operations against Boko Haram. To a large extent, one might say that Fani-Kayode is succeeding because the organisation is on the same page with him. They do not seem to care about what happens to this country in 2015 and beyond, as long as they have Jonathan’s head.
If recidivism is anything to go by, it may still be necessary to persuade Fani-Kayode to return to Ghana.
*Mr. Momodu, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Benin, Edo State.