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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Femi Fani-Kayode at 55: Celebration Of A Gentle Volcano

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by Jude Ndukwe

When on the 16th of Ocober , 1960, Chief Victor Remilekun Fani-Kayode and his delectable wife, Chief Mrs Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode gave birth to a son after their royal lineage and named him David Oluwafemi Fani-Kayode, little did they understand the enormous divine implications and assignment they placed on the shoulders of their lovely son. For like King David of biblical days, Femi Fani-Kayode has been destined to fight a good fight of faith, stand up to foes, betrayers, man-slayers and vampires wherever they can be found, no matter how powerful, highly-placed, wealthy, connected or even influential they are especially those who want to ride roughshod over the weak and the oppressed, or even those who have taken it as their stock-in-trade to traverse with reckless abandon and impunity over others who are considered second class citizens even in their own country.

As it was with David, Femi Fani-Kayode has fought many battles, living up to his name by winning all of them except none. Not even the giant, Goliath, described as a champion of war could withstand David. No, not even the bear and the lion! He defeated all of them and liberated both his sheep and his nation from the insolent defiance of oppressive elements.

The trait of a fighter for justice, equity and fairness in him did not come to many as a surprise as this was only an inheritance from his father’s inclination who was used to fighting against the oppressed even if they are not directly related to him or even if he would have no benefits accruing to him in such a struggle. It is not many people that know that Femi Fani-Kayode’s father was the one who, in 1957, led the team of Action Group lawyers who represented and fought for the people of the Northern minorities at the Willinks Minorities Commission in their quest for the creation of a middle belt region which would have been carved out of the old Northern Region of Nigeria. Many would ask, “wetin concern this man with northern minorities?” But that is how the Fani-Kayode’s have been divinely wired: to spot oppression anywhere and fight against it everywhere! Little wonder FFK, as he is fondly called, has since continued from where his father stopped.

A graduate of the prestigious Cambridge University among other equally prestigious institutions of learning, Femi started his life humbly despite having been born into royalty, fame and wealth. After his graduation at the Nigerian Law School, he was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985 from where he proceeded to work in the law firm of the legendary Chief Rotimi Williams after which he joined his father’s law firm, Fani-Kayode & Sowemimo.

His foray into politics was long expected and overdue. With the pedigree of his father as the Deputy Premier of the then Western Region of Nigeria among very senior positions he held and as the one who successfully moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in July 1958, FFK’s success in politics was easily predictable.

Although he had held political positions since 1989 when he was elected the National Youth Leader of the Nigerian National Congress, his earliest most prominent political elevation came when he was

appointed as the Senior Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 from where he was promoted to Minister of Culture and Tourism and then later, Minister of Aviation, all as a result of his hard work, tenacity, loyalty and dedication to duty.

Like every successful person, Femi Fani-Kayode has had his own fair share of challenges which started on the 1st of July, 2008, when he was arrested and arraigned over trumped up allegations of corruption. Throughout his period of trial, Femi remained calm and believed that God would never ever allow the innocent to suffer no matter how powerful those who are ganging up against him are. This belief saw him through the trying period, and like a man who has a divine destiny to fulfil, it was significant that he was discharged and acquitted of all the 47 count charge of corruption brought against him on the 1st of July, 2015, exactly the same day it marked seven years his trial and ordeal started. For those who are interested in the workings of God, this could not have been a mere coincidence; God’s hand was seen all over it. It is then not surprising that after his victory at the courts, FFK changed his name from Fani-Kayode to Olu-Kayode the latter meaning that it is God who has brought us joy!

Although he joined the All Progressives Congress, APC, some time in his political career, their workings did not suit him, his belief or dream for the common man and the nation. He left the party and went back home to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), where he was eventually appointed the Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP and Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation even as he was still facing trial at the courts.

Although the challenge of his new assignment was enormous as the PDP, prior to Femi’s emergence at the political scene, had been swept underground and the opposition had a field day feeding half-truths, outright falsehood and propaganda to the populace. The PDP publicity machinery just sat down and looked as if what was happening did not matter and Jonathan’s rating among the public fell flat. But all that changed, not just that it changed, it changed drastically with the appointment of Fani-Kayode into the PDP campaign organisation.

He challenged the well-oiled publicity machinery of the APC singlehanded. He took them to the cleaners and stood them shoulder to shoulder, face to face and eyeball to eyeball until they balked and issued one empty threat after the other just to cow him, but he is not a man to succumb to threats from any quarters. The more they threatened, the more he hit them.

Finally, even the APC and their supporters agree that FFK was one man with the strength of seven giants put together. In fact, it is believed that the 12.5 million votes former President Jonathan was able to garner at the 2015 polls was a result of Fani-Kayode’s hardwork in conjunction with the team he worked in. But for him, the APC would have won the polls with landslide victory. Little wonder then many believed that if Femi had been involved in the PDP publicity machinery for up to just six months, his work had the capacity of delivering PDP the second term ticket to Jonathan; for if he could do what he did during the campaigns only for three months (January – March, 2015), six months would have been more than enough to hand PDP victory.

Apart from the above, the celebrant is well known to be a humble, loyal, kind-hearted and public-spirited man whose generosity to the less privileged and needy, though usually unannounced, is legendary.

At 55, Femi must not rest on his oars. Just like the Lord told Joshua in the book of Joshua 13:1 “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered”, Femi knows that there is still more land to conquer as the reign of wickedness over the land must be totally obliterated and we all need someone like him to stand in the gap for us all.

It is in light of the above that we must all with gladness and a loud ovation wish this enigma, this gentle volcano, a happy birthday, many happy returns of the day, long life and prosperity. God bless Chief Olufemi Olu-Kayode.

Jude Ndukwe is a media aide to Chief Fani-Kayode. He tweets from @stjudendukwe

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. 

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