President Buhari receives New APC Member Femi Fani-Kayode in State House on 16th Sep 2021 Femi Adeshina posted on Facebook

True leadership is not opportunistic. But what electoral calculation inspired this misadventure? True, a political party, like a church, cannot refuse newcomers. They must welcome golddiggers, prostitutes and chameleons. But a ruling party must be wary of the message it transmits. While it must strive to win elections, it must maintain social distancing with the politically leprous. The president should have a moral cost-benefit analysis stayed away.

That picture sullied the president. All the president had to do was demand a letter of apology. Ask the man to denounce bigotry and fake news and announce his remorse and repentance. But no, even the president who isn’t given to frivolities, the president who should have a grouse with peddlers of hate and fake news, embraced, without squirming, the poster child of bigotry and political pyromania.

It’s beyond Fani-Kayode, the 60-year-old child. Cambridge University must have done its best. Moral toilet training should be taught at home. This is bigger than the voluble Osun chief. Those bandying forgiveness without accountability and ‘moving on’ without direction are light-hearted charlatans themselves. Perhaps they plan to exploit the man’s gift of shamelessness against their opponents.

But they need to find sobriety and reflect on the state of the nation’s politics. This nation has never been this divided. For six years, some politicians rejected all moral principles and devoted themselves to setting this country ablaze. They employed fake news. They hammered at our fault lines. They pumped poison into young hearts. They masqueraded as champions of human rights and did incalculable damage to national unity. The Federal Government abetted the anarchists with a litany of bad choices and poor judgements. The country is wounded. The president should recognise a political stain from a mile. Even if the president has no moral scruples, the Fani-Kayode embrace is confused messaging.

Fani-Kayode should have been made to sneak into the party through a backdoor. Fani-Kayode isn’t another political defector. He isn’t the everyday foul-mouthed politician with the instincts of a prostitute… No former minister, no former presidential aide, has cast off decorum and worked himself to death like Fani-Kayode has done, trying to foment religious and ethnic strife in this country.

Any desperate ex-minister, claiming close kinship with Christ or Mohammed, lacking basic civility and decency, possessing a diabolical tongue, can harm this nation. Ordinary people tend to believe former government officials when they tell sensational lies against their political opponents. A credulousness that comes from the assumption that a former presidential spokesman would have contacts in the intestines of the Presidency. And must know truths hidden in its rectum. The president should know at least know the most conspicuous of black sheep. To lend any sort of credence to Fani-Kayode and his activities in the last five years is to legitimise the vilest of political chicanery.

And for what gain?

Our society’s moral fabric is in tatters. Torn apart by corruption, greed and nepotism. But that fabric is virtually irreparable because of a pervasive culture of impunity. It can’t be stitched by an endorsement of political opportunism or the enthronement of laissez-faire by the Presidency. Fani-Kayode should have been made to sneak into the party through a backdoor. Fani-Kayode isn’t another political defector. He isn’t the everyday foul-mouthed politician with the instincts of a prostitute. He isn’t a playful chameleon or a vicious hyena. No former minister, no former presidential aide, has cast off decorum and worked himself to death like Fani-Kayode has done, trying to foment religious and ethnic strife in this country. At the peak of his infamy, he said the North-East and the North-West should no longer be part of this country. Youths listened to him and strayed into the marshland of malignant ethnic and religious chauvinism. To treat him to a banquet like a returning biblical prodigal is to blur moral boundaries and valorise political banditry. We must never belittle the role buffoons played in Rwanda. The president cannot create the impression that clowns are anything other than what they are – clowns.

The biblical prodigal son wasted his fortunes. He never tried to burn his father’s house. If the Presidency thinks Fani-Kayode is more of a circus clown than a reckless and devious schemer, it should say so. Saying so would tell the youths that the country bothers about good and evil, and second chances. The president should not help the youths come away with the impression that bigotry, hate speech, ethnic divisiveness, naked political opportunism aren’t stark and roundly objectionable. If the public conscience is deadened by these pictures coming out of Aso Rock, then the consequences won’t just be political apathy. But desensitisation leading to a proliferation in yahoo-yahoo and other opportunistic crimes. A full-blown moral elasticity plague.

In 2020, the holy spirit asked Fani-Kayode to submit his head to a Zamfara Emir to be turbaned the Sadauki of Shinkafi Emirate. In 2021, the holy spirit ordered the Sadauki to cross over to the Almajiri Peoples Congress. The holy spirit asked him to do that neck-breaking somersault, so that he can help unite the country. Unclothed charlatanism.

In 2017, Fani-Kayode said the holy spirit told him Buhari was dead and that a corpse was ruling over the country. That spirit must have touched other people. The implicated spirit must have its roots in a distillery. Many of the politicians who had seen Buhari in the mortuary or had a copy of his death certificate have quietly moved onto other pursuits with their credibility and honour intact. In 2018, the holy spirit revealed to Fani-Kayode that Fulani herdsmen engaged in ritual bestiality with cows. And instructed him to alert Christian folks that the continued eating of Suya would be viewed sternly by God. In 2020, the holy spirit asked Fani-Kayode to submit his head to a Zamfara Emir to be turbaned the Sadauki of Shinkafi Emirate. In 2021, the holy spirit ordered the Sadauki to cross over to the Almajiri Peoples Congress. The holy spirit asked him to do that neck-breaking somersault, so that he can help unite the country. Unclothed charlatanism.

Fani-Kayode’s invocation of the holy spirit to sell confabulations and half-truths is a national malady. It implicates a certain version of facile Pentecostalism. They attribute every hunch, every instinct to the Holy Spirit. And justify their bitterness with Bible verses. They are quick to find enemies and demons, but slow to preach love to the enemy. As such, one can blame Fani-Kayode for punctuating curses with verses of the Bible. Nobody can blame him for labelling Christians who preached love and moderation as bootlickers, slaves and traitors. For this reason, he cursed the vice president. The problem at hand is how to redeem the many subscribers to church WhatsApp groups that consumed Fani Kayode’s poisoned political kulikuli and gravitated towards paranoid delusions and witchcraft. This redemption would have been easier if they heard their ‘Saul of Tarsus’ weeping and reading a full-throated letter of repentance.

True leadership is not opportunistic. But what electoral calculation inspired this misadventure? True, a political party, like a church, cannot refuse newcomers. They must welcome golddiggers, prostitutes and chameleons. But a ruling party must be wary of the message it transmits. While it must strive to win elections, it must maintain social distancing with the politically leprous. The president should have a moral cost-benefit analysis stayed away. When an austere president like Buhari welcomes a man like Fani-Kayode into his sanctum with fanfare, then something is amiss. Then, definitely, all pretences are off, moral elasticity has set in.

Ugoji Egbujo is a member of the Board of Trustees of Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch.

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