Salihu Moh. Lukman
Progressive Governors Forum
Around late evening of Monday, February 8, 2021, Nigerian media, especially social media, became alive with photos of our National Chairman, HE Mai Mala Buni and our Kogi State Governor, HE Yahaya Bello, in the company of Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, a notable leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The speculation is that Mr. Fani-Kayode is on his way to joining the APC. The verdict in most media platforms is quite disturbing, but justifiably so, if the news about Mr. Fani-Kayode joining the APC is true.
Without recalling all the terrible statements of Mr. Fani-Kayode against the APC and our leadership, this development may be confirming James Comey’s argument in the book A Higher Loyalty – Truth, Lies and Leadership when he points out that ‘The danger in every organization, especially one built around hierarchy, is that you create an environment that cuts off dissenting views and discourages honest feedback. That can quickly lead to a culture of delusion and deception. And in a leader, the tendency of too much confidence to swamp humility can lead to a dangerous self-indulgence at the expense of others.’
That our leaders will be meeting with Mr. Fani-Kayode in such a compromising way, suggesting that he may be on his way to joining our party, clearly indicates that either those of us saddled with the responsibility of advising them have failed or we have been completely cut off. How can a person who just few days, if not few hours, ago wrote to one of our leaders and derogatorily and condescendingly condemned his political prospects of emerging as the Presidential candidate of our party, be given such a high-level reception? Assuming the open letter to our National Leader, which is all over our media at the time of such reception, wasn’t offensive, what of the open letter he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari last year?
Besides the open letters, what abusive language has he not used against our party and our leaders? Most of these are unprintable. A typical example of the kind of abuses he spat on our leaders and our party can be demonstrated with his response to a tweet by Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Information, last May 2020. Mr. Adesina argued that President Buhari’s emergence as President saved the country. Responding, Mr. Fani-Kayode said: “Not so my friend. The emergence of Buhari in 2015 annihilated Nigeria and plunged her into darkness, death and destruction. “He came to steal, kill and destroy and for the last disastrous 5 years that is all he has done.”
Compared to most of Mr. Fani-Kayode’s barrages of insults on APC and its leaders, this would appear to be very civil. Most Nigerians, both APC members and non-APC members would appear to be in agreement that any association between APC and its leadership with Mr. Fani-Kayode is indicative of problem of values. Without being academic in anyway, the issue of values is basically about the qualities of people and the vision they hold. What kind of people are we aspiring to attract into our party? Do we want to reduce our party into one in which everybody is welcome? Can we for instance in anyway or form contemplate having an Nnamdi Kanu or Abubakar Shekau as a member? If that were to be the case, why don’t we just have INEC register IPOB and Boko Haram as political parties and allow them to field candidates for elections?
We may be tempted to argue that Mr. Fani-Kayode is not Nnamdi Kanu or Abubakar Shekau. It is however difficult to fathom what qualifies him to be associated with our leaders at that high level? At this rate, one day, Nigerians will just wake and see some of our leaders presenting Mr. Fani-Kayode to President Buhari as a new member of our party. Although, we can confidently argue that President Buhari will not approve such deranged possibility, it is important to caution that such consideration will be stretching the trust of party members beyond acceptable limits.
Although issues of values in politics easily gets compromised, as Mr. Barack Obama, former President of the United States cautioned in the book The Audacity of Hope – Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, it is important to appeal to our leaders to moderate their consideration in terms of who they associate with, especially if it will lead to invitation to joining the APC. Mr. Obama in particular noted ‘the fact that the practice of modern politics itself seems to be value-free. Politics (and political commentary) not only allows but often rewards behavior that we would normally think of as scandalous: fabricating stories, distorting the obvious meaning of what other people say, insulting or generally questioning their motives, poking through their personal affairs in search of damaging information.’
For our leaders to associate themselves with Mr. Fani-Kayode, is simply rewarding scandalous behaviour. Mr. Fani-Kayode has fabricated stories, distorted, insulted and damaged information about our party and our leaders. Elementary rule of decency would require some good distance between our leaders and such a person. Not even the Ward leaders where he is located should be associated with him except for reasons of family ties. By the way, the Caretaker Committee of our party should avoid a situation whereby it takes decision on issues that are very weighty without consultations. On no account should anyone with the kind of baggage of Mr. Fani-Kayode be invited to join the party without clearance from a statutory structure of the party. In this particular instance, the National Caucus should be the clearing house.
APC emerged with a commitment to social democracy. Social democracy is about values of collective justice and individual freedom where everyone’s basic needs are fulfilled. This, among others upholds respect for the dignity of the individual party members. We need to appeal to all our leaders, especially the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee and all the thirteen members to always remember that they are entrusted with the responsibility they have today to democratise our party. They are not Sole Administrators. To democratise will require more meetings and consultations. Their actions should reflect decisions taken at meeting or at least from wider consultations!
This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum