I declared for the APC in June last year in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State well before the party was registered by INEC. I formally joined the party, amidst great fanfare, on 7th February, 2014 in my hometown, Ile-Ife and I registered my membership on that day. The registration was done outside the Ooni’s palace and it was done in the prescence of the media, numerous party leaders in the state, including Hon. Rotimi Makinde, who represents Ile-Ife at the Federal House of Representatives, and all the other key leaders of the APC in the state and Ife-Ife including Chief Akantioke and Alhaji Soko Adewoyin the former Deputy Governor of Osun state.
After registering we proceeded to pay a courtesy call on my traditional ruler, the Ooni of Ife, and from there I went to spend a few days with Governor Rauf Aregbesola who, together with Governor Kayode Fayemi, I am close to and I consider to be friends. I have stated these facts and set the record straight due to the fact that Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of the APC, had the effrontery to say in an interview with Premium Times magazine earlier today, that I was never a member of the APC and that I never joined them formally.
He also went further to say that had if I had been a member of the APC the party would have sanctioned me for expressing my opposition to the idea of a Muslim/Muslim ticket.
The truth is that Mohammed is not only a liar but he is also a coward. If he wanted to know the truth he and those that sent him to issue the statement could have called me and asked me. He ought to have done his homework before speaking out. I was not only a member of the APC but I was also a leader of that party and a foundational member. Yet once I joined I began to see things as they really were. I have never been and will never be part of a cult and the fact that people like Mohammed and those he represents within the APC are not comfortable with any form of admonition or criticism from senior party members like me speaks volumes. I have nothing but the fondest thoughts and memories for the majority of APC leaders including all the governors and most of the Presidential aspirants but today I have an important announcement to make. I wish to inform the general public that as at today, 2nd June 2014, I have left the APC and gone back to the PDP. I wish the APC well in all their endeavours, but as at today, we have parted ways forever and my spirit has left them.
My reasons for leaving the party are because I consider nation-building as being far more important than party politics, party affiliation or party formations. I am a devout and committed Christian and I cannot remain in a party where a handful of people that have sympathies for Boko Haram and that have a clear Islamic agenda are playing a leading role. This is made all the more untenable when some of those people are working hard silently and behind the scenes to impose a Muslim/Muslim ticket on the party for the Presidential elections next year.
I believe that religion ought to play no part in politics but a situation where members of the Christian faith are not treated as equals and where all the substantive positions of the National Executive of the party are made up of almost exclusively Muslims is unacceptable to me.
In fairness to the members of the party there are many leaders within it’s ranks who share my views and who are also opposed to the religious agenda that the few have but I am not prepared to stay and fight from within because the very presence of any closet Haramites on the same political platform as me is something that I find utterly repugnant.
I have raised these issues privately with virtually every key party leader including most of the governors but nothing has changed. I cannot be in a party in which the spokesman, Lai Mohammed, only last year said that it was wrong and ”unconstitutional” for the Federal Government to proscribe Boko Haram. This is the same Boko Haram that has killed no less than 15,000 Nigerians in the last three years. I cannot be in a party where the leading Presidential candidate, only last year said that Boko Haram ought not to be killed but ought to be treated like the Niger Delta militants, granted amnesty without any conditions, pampered and paid and who said, in 2011, that Muslims should only vote for people who will protect their faith. I cannot be in a party where a number of leading people question the secularity of the state and yet those people are not called to order by the so-called party leaders and where such people seem to hold sway. I cannot be in a party which appears to have politicised the whole of the Chibok issue and who are not sincere in trying to get the girls back. I cannot be in a party where a few of it’s leaders are more interested in playing politics with the whole Chibok issue and hurling bricks at our military for not doing a better job. I cannot be in a party in which the role of one of it’s governors is not clear on the Chibok issue: this is a governor that has not been able to explain to the world why he insisted that the girls should do their exams in that school and remain in Chibok for the night even though WAEC and the Federal Government had warned them about the dangers of doing so.
I cannot be in a party in which dissent and a differing opinion with others on fundamental issues is seen as an offence and something to be frowned upon or to be queried or expelled for. I have been in politics for the last 24 years of my life and all along I have taken monumental risks and been guided by my principles. I have also exhibited that I have the courage of my convictions and more often than not I have dared to say what many others are thinking but dare not to say.
It is clear to me that such sentiments are not appreciated in the APC under it’s present leadership and consequently I have chosen to move on. I believe that every religion and every ethnic nationality in this country ought to be treated with the greatest respect even within the context of a political party. I believe that we are all equal before God regardless of our religious differences.
A situation whereby, as a Christian, I am made to feel that I am a second class citizen in any association or political party which I am part of and for which I have taken risks for is unacceptable to me. In order for any political party to move our country forward you need the input, support and confidence of the adherents of ALL religious faiths and not just that of the Muslims.
This is something that some in the APC do not seem to appreciate. As a christian I feel deeply offended by some of the rhetoric and behaviour of some of the APC leaders and I cannot be expected to remain silent in the face of such expressions. These are the main reasons why I have left the APC. I wish them well in all their endeavours and like I said earlier many of their key leaders and governors remain my personal friends and will continue to do so even after this.
Thanks and may God guide and bless Nigeria.
Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation.