ALLEGED DEFECTION: Presidency knocks Fani-Kayode, declares him ” persona non grata”. Posted by News Mirror February 10, 2021

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There were indications on Tuesday that the presidency was not well disposed to at­tempts by Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Avia­tion, to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Fani-Kayode, a chieftain of the major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and die-hard critic of President Muhammadu Bu­hari, met with Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, act­ing national chairman of the APC, and Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, at the weekend.

He had initially dumped the PDP and worked for the formation of the APC. He, however, defected from the APC in May 2013 and rejoined the PDP.

While details of the meet­ing were not made public, many believed Fani-Kayode, who had on several occasions threatened to dump the PDP, was on his way to the APC.

Responding to Fani-Kayo­de’s move, Personal Assis­tant to President Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, said that most members of the APC won’t welcome Fani-Kayode should he decide to return to the party.

Writing on his official twitter handle, Ahmad said the former minister may not be welcomed by the majority of APC members whom he attacked for several years.

“If he decides to join the governing party, I don’t think he will be welcomed by the majority of the party mem­bers whom he made it a duty to attack and insult for several years,” Ahmad said.

In his reaction, Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, also warned that admitting Fani-Kayode into the APC would be coun­terproductive to the current registration and revalidation drive of the party.

Lukman’s opposition to Fani-Kayode’s return to APC was contained in a statement titled: ‘APC: Reminder About Our Values’, on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said admitting the for­mer minister would amount to a reward for scandalous behaviour.

Lukman warned that as a progressive party, the APC should not be for someone like Fani-Kayode, asking whether the party leader­ship would also contemplate admitting Nnamdi Kanu or Boko Haram leader, Abuba­kar Shekau, into its fold.

The PGF DG said Presi­dent Muhammadu Buhari would not be favourably dis­posed to the move, adding that such consideration would be stretching the trust of party members beyond acceptable limits.

Lukman cited many de­rogatory statements, open confrontational letters against the president and one of the APC national leaders recently by Fani-Kayode, add­ing that the national caucus of the party must be involved in clearing him should he be admitted.

According to him, “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.

“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 a problem of values.

“Without being academic in any way, 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?”

He went on: “Do we want to reduce our party into one in which everybody is welcome? Can we for instance in any way 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.”

However, responding to criticisms that have trailed his closed-door meeting with the APC leaders, Fani-Kayode, in a statement on his official Facebook page on Tuesday, noted that the discussions were just based on the state of the nation, pressing national issues, party politics and the way forward.

He said: “Yesterday after­noon I had the distinct honour and pleasure of having a very productive and important meeting with the National Chairman of the APC, Gov­ernor Mai Buni of Yobe State, and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.

“We discussed the state of the nation, pressing national issues, party politics and the way forward. These meetings are wide-ranging and ongo­ing and I am delighted to be involved in them.

“Despite the obvious bene­fits and wisdom in this noble initiative it amazes me that some people should feel that it is wrong for me to sit with other leaders in the country to discuss issues which touch and concern the national co­hesion, future and stability of our country.

“This is a time in which we must set all our differenc­es aside, build bridges and come together as one lest our country drifts into fratricidal butchery and civil war.

“It is right and proper for us to talk and to attempt to join hands across political, religious, and regional lines to save Nigeria.

“I can and will never com­promise or jettison my core fundamental principles for any reason and I stand firmly on my honestly held opinion that we need to enthrone equi­ty, justice and fairness in this country for it to survive.

“I also believe in restruc­turing the country and in a vigorous and effective fight against terrorism.

“The fact that I am in talks with leaders from a cross sec­tion of political parties, in­cluding the ruling party, does not in any way derogate from this and does not mean that I will ever change those views.

“The next few months will be critical in terms of whether or not our country will survive as one and I be­lieve that if we want it to do so dialogue, building bridges, and collaboration, even with those that you may disagree with on some issues, are vital and inevitable.

“That was the purpose of our meeting. Permit me to add the following for the re­cord. I will always stand for justice and I will never cease to oppose evil. Yet the great­est evil that we are confronted with today is the prospect of a second civil war.”

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