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Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation
Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation
Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation

This article caught my attention not because of the writer, but because it was same question i keep asking each time i travel around the country called NIGERIA. let the truth be told, we are not one and it is high time our leaders realise this. before it resolved to a situation beyond their control. people may not feel the heat if there is no hunger in the land but with the present hopeless situation and with the crops of confused rulers tagged leaders that we have in place, i doubt if what happened to Soviet Union wont happen soon. the only thing that is still keeping Nigeria is our uncontrollable greed for materialism. but a generation will come that will fail to recognise Joseph in the land of Egypt, it can’t continue forever, now is the time to review our existence as a nation.

Is Nigeria Really One Nation?

The ‘One Nigeria’ slogan is no more than a façade, writes Femi Fani-Kayode
I love this country with every fiber of my being. For three generations before me – my forefathers, including my great grandfather, my grandfather and my father – have made solid and notable contributions to the development of this country in both the private and the public sectors.

My great grandfather, Rev. Emmanuel Adebiyi Kayode, studied theology at the great Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Durham University in the United Kingdom after which he returned to Nigeria. He was ordained an Anglican priest – the first Nigerian to take Christianity to our hometown, Ile-Ife and was the first to build and pastor the first Anglican Church in that ancient town.

Throughout his life and ministry, he fought for the rights of the poor and oppressed in Ile-Ife, including the people of Modakeke, who at that time were treated as slaves and serfs. He did the same in Ondo province and Ijebu, where he was later posted by the Church.
My grandfather, Chief Victor Adedapo Kayode, studied law at Cambridge University and was called to the English bar after which he returned to Nigeria.

Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation
Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation

He played a key role in the development of education in the country, was deeply involved in the fight against the excesses of our British colonial masters, fought for the rights of the so-called “African natives” and “indigenous population” in the old Lagos Colony and was the third Nigerian to be appointed to the Judiciary after a brilliant and rewarding career as a criminal lawyer.

My father, Chief Remi Fani-Kayode Q.C. SAN, CON was born in the United Kingdom, studied law at Cambridge University and was called to the English bar after which he returned to Nigeria. Like his father, he also excelled as a lawyer and he set up the first and most successful indigenous Nigerian law firm of that time with Chief Rotimi Williams Q.C. SAN, CON and Chief Bode Thomas.

He went into politics and was deeply involved in the struggle for our independence from colonial rule. He successfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in Parliament and went on to become a Minister and Deputy Premier of the old Western region of Nigeria.

I have fought military rule, been involved in the struggle for democracy and I have participated heavily in partisan politics, political commentary and political discourse in our country for the last 26 years. I have had the rare honor and distinct privilege of serving her at the highest level of governance first as a presidential spokesman and then as a Federal Minister in two separate Ministries as far back as 10 years ago.

I have suffered persecution, self-imposed exile, illegal and unlawful incarceration and the most vicious forms of insults and misrepresentation for Nigeria over the years and I have also invested my time, resources and energy heavily into the political terrain and development in our country.

Yet, despite all these wonderful opportunities, the monumental sacrifices that my illustrious forefathers and I have made and our love for and commitment to Nigeria, it is time to ask some hard questions.

Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation
Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation

Those questions are as follow. Is Nigeria really one nation or is she many nations forced to remain within an artificial, unworkable and unsustainable entity? Are our people really “bound in freedom, peace and unity” as our national anthem proudly proclaims or is that just a deceitful mirage and never-ending illusion? Is our marriage and amalgamation borne out of consensus and a genuine desire to remain together or borne out of compulsion?

Can a nation prosper, excel or achieve its full potential when its people are perpetually squabbling and struggling over the distribution of its meagre resources and when they have two distinct and irreconcilable world views? Can it thrive when one group wishes to live and compete in the new, enlightened and modern free world whilst the other wishes to go back to the bondage of the dark ages?

It appears that more people are asking these questions today than ever before. Is it not time for us to answer them? Must we wait for an ethnic or religious conflagration to occur or another civil war to take place before we accept the fact that there is something very wrong somewhere and that we may well be a nation of ethnic incompatibles?

Why is it a crime for anyone to take as much pride in their ethnic nationality and cultural heritage as they do in being a Nigerian? Why is it wrong for anyone to say that ‘I am as proud of being an Igbo or a Yoruba or an Ijaw or a Fulani or any other ethnic nationality as I am of being a Nigerian?’

What is the ethos, essence, utility, sustainability and legitimacy of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious plural super-state in which the various ethnic nationalities are expected to subsume their primary identities, de-emphasise the very source and root of their being and literally sacrifice their ancient bloodlines, noble history and rich heritage on the altar of a hybrid and artificial man-made entity called Nigeria?

Is it really wrong for any of the numerous ethnic nationalities that make up our country to insist on their freedom and demand to be allowed to develop separately and at their own pace? This is especially so where and when they feel as if they have been turned into slaves and second class citizens by others in their own country?

Is Nigeria a nation or is she a mere geographical expression? Is it true to say that there is as much of a difference between a Fulani and an Igbo as there is between a Turk and a German? Is Nigeria anything more than a British fraud set up to serve the economic interests of our former colonial masters? Given the circumstances, is it unreasonable of us to ask for our very own Brexit?

Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation
Fani-Kayode former Minister of Aviation

Some of these fundamental questions were first raised by the first Premier of the old Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo SAN, in 1947 in his book titled ‘Paths to Nigerian Freedom’ but sadly few listened. Consequently, 20 years later, Awolowo’s greatest fears and concerns were confirmed and our three year civil war in which over three million people perished, including women and children, took place.

This was the only war in world history in which the premeditated starvation of young children and babies, in what was essentially mass murder and genocide, was described as a “legitimate weapon of war” by those who perpetrated such horrendous crimes against humanity.

Since the end of the civil war, neither Nigeria nor any of its ageing leaders, many of whom were military veterans and commanders in that civil war, has expressed any regrets, shown any remorse or brought anyone to justice for what was undoubtedly the greatest mass murder of infants and butchery of the innocents in African history.
Yet nothing seems to have changed except for the fact that the ethnic identity and religious persuasion of the latest set of victims have become far more widespread and varied.

In today’s Nigeria, unlike in 1966 and unlike during the civil war, it is not just the proud Igbos and ever-defiant Biafrans that are being slaughtered like flies on a regular basis but also the northern Christians, the Shiite Muslims, the people of the Middle Belt and the Niger Delta and the ever-compromising Yoruba.

Consequently, the same questions are being asked today about the continued feasiblity of our national unity and cohesion but this time with far more urgency and anger and by far many more people. Yet those that believe that they own Nigeria still refuse to listen and view those that ask such questions with suspicion, derision, contempt and even rage.

They label them as being unpatriotic and ignorant and they threaten and attempt to intimidate and bully them into silence simply because they do not share their views. In Nigeria, it is indeed a dangerous thing to be a freedom-yearning and independence-craving dissident or non-conformist and, like in the old Soviet Union before its eventual disintegration, you could end up paying for such views with your liberty or your life.

Yet one wonders how much longer this can go on before the oppressed and the voiceless get fed up with merely asking questions and instead choose to actually insist on their rights, take their destiny into their own hands, rise up to the occasion and fight for their liberty?

The quest for self-determination, freedom and liberation is a noble and legitimate cause which has never been successfully resisted or defeated anywhere in the history of the world. Every well-educated and widely-read individual can attest to the veracity of that undeniable and incontrovertible fact.

The truth is that you cannot compel people to remain together in one nation by the force of arms forever. It may work for some time but it cannot last in perpetuity because sooner or later the chickens will come home to roost. The best you can do is to reach out to the disillusioned and marginalised in love and give them a reason to want to stay.

Yet, few in our nation can appreciate the wisdom in adopting such a course or treading such a path. The only language that is clearly understood here is the logic of compulsion and the language of force. Consequently, Nigeria is unravelling at the very seams. I can literally smell blood on the mountain and I perceive and sense the secret massing of the bloodthirsty demon Magog, the god of war.

The quest for the peaceful division of our nation is stronger today than ever before and as each day passes, it gets stronger and stronger. It is far more compelling and stronger than it was before our civil war broke out in 1967 simply because far many more people are angry and fed up with what they are being subjected to by the powers that be and our forced union.

Millions from all over the country are quietly murmuring but soon that murmur will become a massive roar and an irresistible and irrepressible demand. It will soon become a tidal wave. And when it gets to that point, no matter how many people you lock up and kill, it will not stop and neither will they be intimidated, silenced or deterred.

In fact, the more people you murder, subject to bloody pogroms, persecute, marginalise, jail and destroy, all in the name of keeping Nigeria one, the louder, the greater and the more deafening the roar, the agitation and the struggle will get. And at that point, only God will be able to hold Nigeria together and He will only do so if it is His perfect will.

May God grant us the wisdom, presence of mind and courage not to dismiss these vital and fundamental questions with the usual arrogance and contempt but rather to do some real soul-searching, indulge in a little introspection and humbly answer them as best as we can.

-Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation

Quote
Is Nigeria really one nation or is she many nations forced to remain within an artificial, unworkable and unsustainable entity? Are our people really “bound in freedom, peace and unity” as our national anthem proudly proclaims or is that just a deceitful mirage and never-ending illusion? Is our marriage and amalgamation borne out of consensus and a genuine desire to remain together or borne out of compulsion

 

High Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Mrs. Folorunso Alakija
Mrs. Folorunso Alakija

I MADE YOU A BILLIONAIRE, OBASANJO TELLS FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Saturday in Lagos that Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, Africa’s richest woman by Forbes reckoning, was among the 25 billionaires he made during his tenure as President. Obasanjo stated this at the 2016 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum.

 

High Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
High Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

The former president was reacting to an allegation by Alakija at the event, that the Obasanjo administration frustrated her effort when she ventured into oil business.

Alakija, who spoke before Obasanjo, alleged that his administration illegally took an oil block allocated to her company after her family had invested all its savings to strike oil in commercial quantity. “This oil block is in 5000 feet depth of water and was extremely difficult to explore. “It took 15 years from the time that we were awarded the licence in 1993 till 2008 when we struck the first oil “When this event happened, 60 per cent out of our 60 per cent equity in the business, was forcefully taken from us by the government of the day without due process. “We had to fight back by going to court to seek redress and it took another 12 years for justice to be served in our favour. “In all those years it was my trust in God, my perseverance and the support of my family that got me going,” she said. . She used her experiences to charge the 2000 budding entrepreneurs at the event to be dogged, determined and not to give up in the face of challenges. When Obasanjo spoke, the former president seized the opportunity to reply to the allegation by Alakija. “There is a saying in my part of the world that when a proverb touches you and you failed to reply, then you are a coward,” he said. Obasanjo explained that the action of the government then was in line with the Mining Act, which regulates oil prospection and exploration. “For you to come here and say that, for no cause whatsoever, you were denied what was rightfully yours, is not fair. “I do not know you from Adam and there is no reason I would have denied you what rightfully belonged to you. “So, you have struggled, and you have struck oil. God bless your heart. “My delight is to be able to create Nigerian billionaire and I always say it that my aim, when I was in government was to create 50 Nigerian billionaires. “Unfortunately I failed. I created only 25 and Madam, you are one of them,” he said. Obasanjo hailed the vision of Mr Tony Elumelu for helping to build African young entrepreneurs with his resources. He also urged the government to create conducive environment for people to move businesses into the country. The former president urged government to relax its visa policy and company registration process to encourage investors. He said the government should create certification centres in the country for easy exportation of agro processed products.

Bai Koromam The President of Sierra Leone
Bai Koromam The President of Sierra Leone

The President of Sierra Leone, Bai Koroma noted that what transpired between Obasanjo and Alakija was part of the challenges and difficulties that leaders lived with in the discharge of their duties. With limited resources competing for unlimited demands and expectations from the people, leaders were seen to be larger than life, he said. Koroma also commended Elumelu for his project for African young entrepreneurs adding that his vision resonated with a new Africa development agenda.

Femi Fani-Kayode
Femi Fani-Kayode
Femi Fani-Kayode
Money transfers and presidential campaign funds – Femi Fani-Kayode

“The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it lose and it will defend itself’’ –St. Augustine.

For the last few weeks I have been the subject of absurd and outlandish headline stories in various newspapers who have accused me of being a fraudster and who have claimed that funds were transferred into my bank account by the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and by the Governor of the Central Bank Bank of Nigeria.

They have also claimed that I used public funds for the Presidential campaign of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The attempt to tarnish my name, paint me as a common criminal and convict me of wrongdoing in the court of public opinion without even hearing my side of the story is petty, shameful and nauseating. It is also a reflection of the desperation of those that seek to pull me down and destroy me simply because my opposition to this government has been unrelenting.

In January 2015 I was appointed as the Director of Media and Publicity for the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Director-General of the Campaign Organisation was Senator Ahmadu Alli and the Deputy Director- Generals were Alhaji Ibrahim Turaki SAN (North) and Governor Peter Obi (South). Chief Tony Anenih, an elderstatesman and one of the most distinguished and reverred leaders in our country, was the Presidential Adviser to the Campaign Organisation.

There were at least 10 other Directors and Directorates apart from me and mine including the Directorate of Mobilisation which was led by the respected Professor Jerry Gana and the Directorate of Administration which was led by Alhaji Aliyu Modibbo.

There were also zonal and state Directors of the Presidential Campaign Organisation in all the zones and states of the country. All these names that I have mentioned including all the other Directors whose names I have not mentioned are, as far as I am aware, men and women of immense integrity and good character and they have mostly been either Ministers of the Federal Republic or state Governors at one time or the other in our history.

It was an honour to serve alongside such people and I have absolutely no regrets about doing so. Yet given the fact that I was not the only Director in the Campaign Organisation and in view of the fact that all the Directors and zonal and state Directors got their funds from the same source and account as I did, one wonders why only I and three others should be singled out for this reprehensible treatment and these false allegations.

I chose to remain silent on the issue up until now simply because the allegations have not been officially made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or anyone else but the newspapers keep citing their sources “inside the EFCC” as their basis for these shameful allegations.

Mr. Josef Goebbels, Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s Information Minister when Germany was in the terrible grip of the Nazi party, said that once a lie is repeated enough times it becomes truth to those who are continuously subjected to it. This is especially so if it goes unchallenged. I cannot sit by silently as my name is dragged through the mud in this way and I am convicted in the court of public opinion.

This has happened to me once before and it took me seven years to clear my name. It will not happen to me again. Consequently I am constrained to take this opportunity to state the facts of this matter, set the record straight and await my traducers and accusers to make their next move. It is indeed time to challenge those that are making these allegations and to kill the lie.

The fact that my bank account was frozen on the orders of the EFCC two weeks ago without any explanation is proof of the fact that I am being targetted and that those that seek to have their wicked way with me are about to pounce. Given this it is important that all the relevant facts are put before the world before I am subjected to the Dasuki treatment, put away indefinately and not given the opportunity to defend myself before the public.

Meanwhile, in their usual manner, after this is done the EFCC will then flood the media with all manner of lies about my so-called atrocities which only exist in the figment of their imagination.

The allegation of fraud and the receipt of public funds from the National.Security Advisers Office and Central Bank into my bank account is false.

These allegations are baseless, wicked, shameful and irresponsible. It is not true that ANY money was paid into my account by or from the National Security Adviser’s Office, the Central Bank of Nigeria or any other government agency or institution last year or at any other time.

As the Director of Media and Publicity of the Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation I was asked to submit a budget for my Directorate by Chief Tony Anenih, the Presidential Advisor to the Presidential Campaign Organisation and Mrs. Nenadi Usman, the Director of Finance.

My team and I prepared the budget and it was approved. Rather than collect cash, for security reasons and the purposes of accountability I was advised by the Director of Finance to open a bank account for this purpose, which I did. The funds were paid into that account in installments at the beginning of last year by the Director of Finance and each deposit was authorized and approved by the Presidential Adviser to the PCO, Chief Tony Anenih.

The account that they used to transfer the money to me was a private company account which was owned or under the control of the Director of Finance.

It was the same company and account that was used to send money to all the other Directors of the PCO and the Zonal Directors, State Directors and all our PDP governorship and legislative candidates during the various campaigns.

I made a point of asking what the source of the funds in this account were and I was told by the Director of Finance that the funds were sourced from private individuals and private companies who opted to support and fund President Jonathan’s campaign. She told me that no money was paid into her company from any government official, account or agency.

This she told me in the prescence of witnesses and I believed her. I was told that there was a fundraising event held by our party (PDP) which took place in early January 2015 in which billions of naira was raised specifically for the Presidential campaign. I believed this to be true and I had no reason to doubt it.

Our funds were given to us by the President who was the leader of our party through the Director of Finance of the PCO and we were not in a position to inquire into the sources of funding of the party’s campaign. Indeed, it was not our responsibility to do so.

Once I got these clarifications and confirmation I agreed to receive the funds into my bank account and use them for their stated purpose. The transfers were made and I used the funds to carry out all our operations during the course of the presidential campaign. It was an aggressive and well-run campaign and we gave our opponents a very hard time indeed.

It was also very expensive and we barely had the resources that we really needed but we did an effective job with the little we were given. The whole nation, including our friends and our enemies, can bear witness to that and they saw the excellent quality of our work. Hardly anyone can dispute this yet some fail to appreciate the fact that such a strong showing costs a lot of money. Media and publicity campaigns cannot be run on goodwill alone: you need cash and plenty of it.

During the course of the election and after its conclusion I submitted detailed accounts of our expenses and evidence of our work to the Director of Finance of the PCO for onward transmission to the Director-General of the PCO and ultimately President Jonathan himself about how the money was spent and they were satisfied.

Given the fact that these were not public funds the only legal body that can inquire into our expenditure of campaign funds is President Goodluck Jonathan who set up the PCO. I was commended for my efforts by him and I can proudly say that my Directorate did not owe any individual, service provider, organisation or media outfit that provided any services to us one kobo at the close of the campaign. All our debts were paid and obligations met during and just after the election.

The suggestion that there was any fraud in any of this or that I colluded and conspired with others to use government money to run a campaign is false and very insulting. The suggestion that the money was some kind of “cash bonanza” or “bazaar” as has been reported by the leading progovernment newspaper in the country today is childish and absurd. If that had been the case I doubt that I would have been foolish enough to open a bank account to receive government funds or “bazaar funds” as this would have been easily traced.

If I had anything to hide or if I was doing anything wrong I would have insisted on collecting cash for my operations which would have been far easier to conceal. The fact that the EFCC gained access to my bank account and leaked details of it to the media including my inflows is not only a gross violation of my privacy but it is also unlawful. I was a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ten years ago and I was a key official in the Presidency thirteen years ago. I had the honour and privilage of serving my country in these two capacities when the father of our nation, President Olusegun Obasanjo, was our President.

Consequently I am familiar with the workings and importance of accountability, due diligence and due process. This is why I was very careful with how we managed our resources at the Directorate and why I appointed a seasoned civil servant who retired from the civil service with commendation at the Director level as my Director of Finance in my Directorate.

I was also mindful of the fact that I had to be very careful with the management of funds that were put under my care given the fact that I had been wrongly accused and viciously persecuted by the Yar’adua administration and the Farida Waziri-led EFCC with trumped up and baseless criminal charges for the previous seven years. That whole ordeal almost ruined my life and my career but God was with me throughout and He delivered me from their evil because I had done nothing wrong.

On 1st July 2015 I was acquitted by a duly constituted court of law of all those charges and I give God the glory for that. Yet the struggle continues. I am appalled at the behaviour of the EFCC in this latest matter but I am not surprised because they have had it in for me for many years. Their almost obsessive interest in me and their motivation to destroy me is essentially political and partly personal and this has always been so.

In short, just as was the case seven years ago, they are being used by the powers that be and by forces that are far above them. To that extent I sympathise with them. Yet if this is an attempt to intimidate, silence or distract me they shall fail because I am not a coward and I do not fear them or those that sent them to torment me. And neither will I sit by idly and watch them trying to destroy me again.

Their allegations are malicious and self-serving and there is no substance or truth in them. We did not run the Presidential Campaign Organization or my Directorate with paper or hot air: we ran them with money. There is no crime in that.

A substantial portion of that money was paid by my Directorate directly to the media for rallies, television, radio and newspaper adverts and jingles together with many other services rendered and we have all the records and documents to prove it. As stated earlier those records have been duly submitted to the relevant quarters and they commended us for our work.

I did not run the Directorate alone and I had at least 10 Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors and Sub-Directors, who were all also appointed by President Jonathan, working under me. I was responsible for the funding of each and every one of their various operations.

Our entire team was dedicated and we all worked very hard because we believed passionately in our candidate and our party.

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