Opinion: Dancing The Morality Limbo – By Wale Bakare
The Trinidadian Limbo dance has always intrigued me. I guess my inability to bend backwards to any great lengths has made me look at those who have the ability to do with some level of awe. As the dancers pass under the ‘limbo stick’ at every round, the bar is lowered slightly more. The music continues, with the bar getting lower and lower until it becomes impossible for the dancers to pass underneath without falling down. Its always a lot of fun to watch and I guess even more fun for those with the flexibility to join in. What has not been fun to watch is the limbo dance of morality that has occupied the media space over the last 48 hours. How low the dancers are willing to go does not appear to be determined by their flexibility (that seems infinite) but by how far the bar can be lowered.
The return of Femi Fani-Kayode to the All Progressive Congress was a surprise to only those naive about Nigerian politics or who know nothing about the man himself . Politics is not a moral endeavour and its practitioners are hardly moralists. In my opinion, there is nowhere where the seedier nature of politics plays out in the entire world than Nigeria. Politics is an end in itself. Sometimes, usually at constitutionally prescribed intervals, the Practitioners (or players as they see themselves or why else would they refer to the process of choosing who directs the affairs of 200 million people as a game)) go through the motions of using politics as a vehicle for the propagation of democracy. This is however what I grew up knowing as ‘panda’ (counterfeit). The people don’t choose their leaders. The Politicians choose from amongst themselves and the people go out to queue and put a seal of legitimacy on the choice of the Players. So the battle is never about the people. It is always about the interests of the players. They lack any ideologies. They hold nothing sacrosanct. It is all about themselves and the positions or offices they occupy or want to occupy. The two major Parties are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. That’s why the Players flow effortlessly between both.
As things stand today, most of those who occupy positions of prominence in the APC have been in the PDP at some point. Ditto for those in the PDP. Governorship Candidates cross over from one Party to the other for the sole purpose of picking up a ticket. And they are proud of it. Politics is a game to them and they are just players. There is no room for morality. A Governor was captured on tape threatening the lives of INEC officials because the were not delivering what he had paid them for. No eyebrows raised. Its all a game. Senators assault citizens, hobnob with call girls and criminals elements, steal blindly with no fear of consequence and they just see it as part of the game. And we have become inured to scandal. I asked a question recently on social media: what scandal can be big or dirty enough to affect a Politicians chances in an election in Nigeria? 90% of respondents said NONE! The only crime the 10% identified was being openly Gay. That is the biggest crime you can commit in the eye of the public in Nigeria. Why then has the return of Femi Fani-Kayode to what can be rightly deemed as his ‘vomit’ attracted so much attention and opprobrium. As he rightly pointed out himself in his interview on Channels, he would not be the first to display his chameleonic tendencies. Why is his case special?
Well, his case is special because he is special. And not in any positive way. For a long time, FFK and Dino were neck and neck in the race for the diadem of most thick-skinned adult in the land. Dino has most certainly conceded defeat. And that takes a lot of doing. Fani-Kayode is a man with a razor-sharp intellect. Hardly ever caught off-guard by any question (except probably when it concerns who is funding his trips), he is eloquent and his command of the English language is testimony to his pedigree and Ivy-league education, which he is never shy to flaunt. He has an almost psychopathic belief in his superiority over his fellowmen to the point of believing the rules that guide human relationships do not apply to him. He lives life on his own terms and says what he wants to say, no matter how despicable, as long as it advances whatever cause he is pushing at the moment (whether he truly believes in it or not). Never one to shy away from controversy or to be shackled by truth, his extant position is dictated by his current need, regardless of whatever previously publicly declared position. He is as fluid as water and as unstable as mercury. He is fanatical about only one cause: the betterment of Femi Fani-Kayode! He has been the most divisive, tribalist, religiously bigoted public figure this country has been afflicted with in the last 20 years (probably in living memory). He has attacked the Igbos (ridiculing their women and insulting their men), he has baited the Fulani (and in fact all Northerners), calling them sometimes childish, but mostly wicked names. He has run a campaign of calumny against the President, the government he heads, and indeed the country (through his support for secessionist organisations) like no other over the last 6 years. Lest I forget, he (along with others) is still on trial by the EFCC on money laundering charges to the tune of N4.6billion.
While all these do not affect his right to freely associate with anyone as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution, and the President has no right to stop him from joining a Political Party of his choice as long as he fulfils the membership requirements of that Party, meeting with him in Aso Rock sends a message that shouldn’t be coming from the seat of the President, and definitely not from this President. My angst is not on account of the deluge of personal insults and rabid name-calling that has characterised his relationship with the President over the years. The President has the right to be magnanimous and forgiving all he wants. Its his right. He however does the nation a disservice by offering a platform to someone who has actively promoted the dismembering of the country the way Fani-Kayode has. His words have probably led to the death of innocent people. He has unabashedly called for support for an Organisation which the Federal Government of Nigeria (rightly or wrongly) has designated as a terrorist Organisation. He is on record pledging his never-ending support (and that of God) for a fellow that was promoting the establishment of an independent State out of Nigeria. In good times, he should be on trial for his actions.
I have heard all sorts of justifications for the President’s action. I have heard that his hands were tied. I have even heard that he was ambushed by the politicians. Bullcrap! While I have no tears to shed for members of APC who feel hard done by, I however feel personally aggrieved as a Nigerian that the message being sent out from the Presidency is that all is acceptable on the altar of political expediency. It might be true that there is no morality in politics but President Buhari has never fitted in the mould of your average politician. He has always projected the image of someone who is ready to buck the political trend and do what he believes is right. I cannot think how this could be in anyway right. Even from the purely political perspective. Fani-Kayode has no electoral value and is unlikely to win a poll by secret ballot conducted in his own home. What then does he bring to the table that is valuable enough that his joining the party will merit a personal reception by the President? He may have enforcer utility. He can be used for the dirty jobs. He will say what other men of decency will not, and so eloquently too. He does not care about history. He cares only about today and so will do anything to maximise today. Such a man is extremely dangerous. Senator Abaribe, while speaking on TV quoted his former Boss (who incidentally kept him around for 8 years) as saying: “Femi Fani-Kayode is my boy. Provide him food, he will eat and then sing for you. He’s a smart boy”! That is not the kind of person the President should be sharing a platform with.