In one of the official photographs that he was sure would make the front page of newspapers the next morning, the Cambridge-trained lawyer was seen re-adjusting his large-flowing Agbada with the “you can say that again” pose. It was not an accident that he was flanked on both sides by those he had railed vituperative utterances — spiced with buffoonery— at.
It took so many months of hard work — unnecessary visits, unsolicited interventions, poke nosing and uncouth social media commentaries— to achieve that. If anyone attempted riding a horse in Femi Fani-Kayode’s belly yesterday, it would be a seamless ride. The former minister was so full of joy that he left for Channels TV studio almost immediately after the welcoming shindig at the Presidency — in the same Agbada.
One does not become recklessly shameless in a day. It is a culmination of semi-shameless acts exhibited previously when no one was paying attention. The signs were there. He was gallivanting from one state to the other, touring the official residences of the stalwarts of the APC, the ‘God-forsaken’ party he had sworn not to be associated with. He was doing all of these under the guise of nation-building.
While running one of those KFC fries errands for the formerly “accursed” APC, he ran into a daring reporter in Calabar who probed him on who was funding the wanderlusts. Mr Fani-Kayode found that question insulting and he started the ranting.
“What type of stupid question is that? What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to?” he said angrily, trying to bully the journalist for just doing his job.
The question he evaded last year now has its answers in the open. His confirmation to the role he played in the defection of Governor Ben Ayade and other decampees showed that he was in Cross River State to preach the gospel of APC to Prof. He was a part-time lobbyist but that did not stop him from declaring support for the Yoruba nation struggle on social media like a typical agitator-by-day-hustler-by-night.
Another event that gave the hint was the sudden support for the presidential ambition of Governor Yahaya Bello who he once described as ‘an accursed slave’ with a non-functional mental faculty. While he could not recant his words, he moved on as if nothing happened, going about his part-time job.
After months of parabulating, he decided to stay true to his conviction — survival. We cannot hold his past against him when his belly aches for food. He could no longer bear “being in the opposition and collaborating with members of the ruling party”. He could no longer pretend that he is not an APC member, hence, he took the bull by the horn with the official announcement.
This recent move, arguably, may not translate to anything substantial for him because even those who received him yesterday knew he is only loyal to his tummy.
In a bid to pacify his ‘followers’ and call down the vilifying words and resentful throwbacks making rounds against him, FFK said his new direction points to a change in his person. “That is the new me,” he declared during the Channels TV interview.
The new FFK is against criminalisation of an ethnic group, supports politics without borders, is focused on nation building and would probably not spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines. Patriotism and responsible living at its peak.
How long this will last, nobody knows. But one thing is certain, we might have seven changed versions of the former minister before 2023. It depends on who is willing to throw a chicken lap into the air. Before the next bidder arrives, let’s embrace this new Fani-Kayode.
Alfred Olufemi, an investigative journalist, writes from Central Nigeria.