Fani-Kayode’s Naked Dance


“The most difficult challenge that Nigerians face is not the hegemony of the Hausa
Fulani ruling class but the ignorance and the slavish mentality of some of those
from the Middle Belt and the South they have conquered....Ignorance, cowardice
and delusion is the language and practice of slaves. And it is typical of a slave to
despise and hate those that seek to liberate him from his slave masters and his
chronic bondage” -
-Femi Fani –Kayode


Under normal circumstances, I would never react to anything written by the former Minister of Aviation and so-called Media Coordinator for the doomed re-election campaign of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. His antecedents and serial flip-flops in politics foreclosed that.


His notion of public commentary, for which he always seemed to enjoy lavish space in the social and mainstream media, not only tended to be tainted with unimaginable abuse and disgraceful bigotry, they invariably lacked depth, coherence or even decency. Like his soulmate, the Osun state Governor Ayodele Fayose, conventional wisdom dictated that they be allowed to swim in their own vomit unhindered.


Even so, I simply could not resist reacting to the most recent onslaught from Fani-Kayode published in last weekend’s edition of the Vanguard newspaper, excerpts from which I have quoted above. I happen to hail from the North-central part of Nigeria and proudly so!


though they cannot tell where its exact boundaries begin or end. That explains the frequent interchange of the various descriptive terms foisted on the region at different times since our independence. The so-called ‘Middle Belt’ has been more of an enigma to its suitors and predators alike, largely on account of its composition and complexity.


To political journeymen like Fani-Kayode, the so-called Middle Belt is restricted to only the Christian minorities in Plateau, Nassarawa, Kaduna and Benue States despite the best efforts of the likes of Professor Jerry Gana. Blinded by decades of prejudice and incurable ignorance, they hardly contend with the other Christian populations in Niger, Kebbi, Kano, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states except during election cycles. And the later four are states in the Northwest and North-eastern parts of Nigeria!


The seeming confusion over the identity of the region, in the eyes of politicians especially those south of the Niger, is often predicated on political expediency, itself the manifestation of a conscious, or unconscious primitive impulse. The same factor masked some, or even all, of the mishaps those who deliberately planned to exploit the region for political capital have experienced since our independence in 1960. Fani-Kayode’s idol Goodluck Jonathan, only happened to be the latest casualty. I shall return to this point in due course.


In the meantime, I have taken special notice of the fact that that he did not list the southern minority groups who have also spoken in the language of slaves for generations using the same standard he established in his incoherent tirade. There is, of course, a reason for that and it is quite instructive.


To include the southern ethnic minorities among his imaginary slaves would have oblitrated the key hypotheses in his pedestrian narrative. His hero, the former President Goodluck Jonathan, is a minority among one of the biggest minority groups in the South – the Ijaw! It is a club the former president shares with the other imaginary slave, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who hailed from the Gere ethnic group of Bauchi state. I have deliberately chosen to limit my examples to only the Nigerian leaders who were the products of democratic elections no matter how imperfect the processes that produced them may have been.


I will therefore not bother to list Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and, of course, Abdulsalami Abubakar; all of who hailed from the so-called Middle-Belt, or Northern minority groups. It is not even necessary. From the single example of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello the revered former Premiere of the Northern region, we are able to discern a fundamental lesson on political sophistication and sagacity which are sorely lacking in the armoury of almost all Nigerian politicians today regardless of their ancestry.


In a landmark decision which should make Fani-Kayode hide his face in shame, the presumed slave-master – Sir Ahmadu Bello the grandson of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, the founder of the Fulani or Sokoto caliphate – declined to become the nation’s Prime Minister as the leader of the victorious Northern People Congress (NPC). He voluntarily passed the position onto his ‘slave’ Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a northern minority.


Since 1960, the Nigerian political system has been delicately balanced. None of the big three major ethnic groups is capable of winning elections at the centre without the consummation of alliances between either two of the major groups, and the minorities north or south of the Niger. While the frequent calls for fiscal federalism has its merits, it was also obvious that the frequent calls for the restructuring of the nation was to radically alter the dynamics of the nation’s political terrain which is rightly or wrongly perceived to be in favour of the north.


But even if the nation is eventually restructured for whatever reason, some politicians in the country will still require to bridge their skill deficits for as long as democracy is defined by the numbers game. That, of course, will require the deep knowledge andunderstanding of the unique and distinguishing attributes of the various ethnic and religious groups that make up the nation’s political milieu from the north to the south. Political victories are not like products that can be purchased off the shelf. It requires a measure of political sophistication and mobilization.

The recent book by Olusegun Adeniyi on how the last general elections was lost exposed the inherent weaknesses of many Nigerian politicians.


I disagree with former senate president David Mark’s view that a northern conspiracy contributed to Jonathan’s defeat in the election. In case the former Army Signals man did not know it, his open romance with the former president was an aberration in presidential system expected to be defined by the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances. But that was not the only problem.


The campaign strategy of the Jonathan camp was like an open book. They believed they had the votes from the south east and the south-south in the bank. They expected the infusion of illicit funds to swing the pendulum in their favour in the southwest regardless of the efforts Bola Tinubu and the APC. They felt the election could be bought regardless of the introduction of card readers. They openly cultivated the Christian vote in the Middle-Belt without fully understanding the dynamics of its demographic constitution.


But the abduction of the Chibok girls who were still yet to be rescued at the time of the elections Jonathan’s subsequent procrastination in mobilizing resources to rescue them in the mistaken belief that it (the abductions) was a northern - read Muslim - conspiracy against his presidency actually exposed the inherent hypocracy in Fani-Kayode’s on the northern minorities. The greater majority of the girls came from Christian families whose votes Jonathan desperately solicited for in


churches and even in the process of making policy pronouncements which impacted on the entire nation.

The abduction of the Chibok girls was a wonderful opportunity for the ten president to have demonstrated his avowed love for northern Christian minorities but he failed test woefully. Instead, we saw a deliberate attempt to milk the tragedy for political capital.


In an astonishing display of inhumanity, the local chapter of the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) was made to publish the full list of the Christian abductees among the victims. The list ignored the remaining girls presumed to be Muslims or even animists.


I have taken all this trouble to reflect on the last elections only because it appears Fani-Kayode is yet to recover from the crushing defeat suffered by his principal and is unwilling to learn useful lessons from the reversal. Far from the northern minorities, it is Fani-Kayode who actually needs to be urgently liberated from his state of perpetual hallucination.


It is becoming increasingly event that his uncourt vituperations mask a massive inferiority complex that may require serious medical attention. Ignorance is often excusable, but to serially peddle falsehood calculated to disrupt the peaceful relations between the various ethnic groups in the nation is sheer lunacy which should not be tolerated.