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.”