Bode Thomas, Awo and SLA in 1953
This would be perhaps my final response to Femi Fani Kayode in regards to the lies, hypocrisy, sadism and blatant tribalism he disgorged in regards to the Lagos deportation saga and the unrelated issues of the January 1966 coup, the pogroms and the Biafran conflict he brought into the mix in advancement of his relevance seeking gambit through bigotry. It is true that as many warned me he does not deserve a response; Femi Fani Kayode is after all well known for being loose cannon. Uncouth, uncivilised and disrespectful to the extreme, he made a career out of abuse and slurs when as President Obasanjo’s special assistant on media matters he poured venom on distinguished and highly respected elder statesmen who opposed his master. Professor Wole Soyinka was amongst the famous victims who were at the receiving end of all types of unprintable words directed at them by Femi Fani Kayode.
If there is anyone who still doubted the fact of Femi Fani Kayode’s mental imbalance, his most recent article should rest such doubts. A man who could go to the absurd extent of listing and most likely lying about women he has allegedly dated on public forums is definitely disturbed. Yet in spite of the obvious facts of Fani Kayode’s irrationality, I feel a responsibility to deal most importantly with some of the issues he raised about the January 1966 coup, the pogroms and Biafra for record purposes.
It has been common place for the likes of Femi Fani Kayode and his bigoted co travellers to call the January 1966 coup an Igbo coup, this is in spite of the fact that Major Wale Ademoyega a Yoruba, was among the hard core leadership of the coup while most of the foot soldiers were Northerners. While they characterise the events of 1966 as an Igbo coup, what they always conveniently omit is the causes of the coup. It is common knowledge that military coups are always occasioned by a crisis. The military never intervenes except there are circumstances that warrant it. No doubt, Femi Fani Kayode and fellow captains of the “tribalism industry” have good incentives to always omit the causes of the January 1966 coup preferring instead to dwell only on the coup itself. The reason is simple; It was in their own Western region then known as the “wild wild west” that election rigging, thuggery, violence, arson, mass murders and other forms of corruption and acts of lawlessness that occasioned the January 1966 coup took place as pioneering acts in Nigeria.
Soon after Nigeria got independence the Western region was in turmoil. Premier Ladoke Akintola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo became embroiled in a protracted crisis. By 1962 the crisis led to sustained violence and acts of lawlessness with law makers engaged in vicious physical combats in the Western regional parliament. Amongst serious injuries and other damages, the mace of office was broken. The federal government intervened to curb the lawlessness and violence by imposing a state of emergency and appointing Dr Moses Majekodunmi as interim premier of the Western region on the 29th of June 1962. This became the first imposition of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s history due to heightened levels of lawlessness. Following an alliance between Akintola and Ahmadu Bello, Ladoke Akintola was returned to power on the 31st of December 1962 in spite of protests by Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe who requested fresh elections rather than reinstating Ladoke Akintola.
By 1963, the plot between Akintola, Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello was perfected and Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested for coup plotting/ treason. His trial commenced in earnest and he was alongside some accomplices convicted for treason and jailed for 10 years. This again was the first alleged coup plotting and conviction in Nigerian history. Intent on totally decimating Chief Awolowo, Ladoke Akintola together with vice premier Remi Fani Kayode went into a political alliance with Prime minister Tafawa Balewa and new political party known as the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) was formed. By this time Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe had realised the folly of entering a coalition with Tafawa Balewa’s government and teamed up with incarcerated Chief Awolowo’s Action group to form the all progressive grand alliance (UPGA).
Akintola and Remi Fani-Kayode (Fani Power)
In 1964, federal elections became due. As usual ethnic chauvinism, intimidation and violence was part of the frenzied campaigning. Remi Kayode and Akintola’s campaign was as usual almost entirely based on tribalism. When the elections were finally held, it was massively rigged in the Western region. Indeed deputy premier Remi Fani Kayode had famously boasted that “there is nothing they can do, whether they vote us or not, we will win.” This statement turned out to be true as massive rigging was orchestrated in the elections. Once again this became the first pioneering act of election rigging by indigenous actors in Nigeria’s history. The announcement of the rigged election results quickly sparked off unprecedented acts of thuggery, violence, arson, mass murders and general acts of lawlessness in the Western region.
Following the crisis, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe requested the military GOC to intervene and reorganise the elections in the Western region to avoid catastrophe, but the military high command refused and Dr Azikiwe was briefly held in house arrest for making such a request. Without any resolution and with Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello as fellow conspirators with Akintola and Remi Fani Kayode in the massive election heist, nothing was done to curtail the violence which gradually intensified. Daily mass murders and arson became routine in the Western region (wetie). This violence and lawlessness in the Western region was to continue from 1964 until 1966 when the military lost patience and finally struck.
The Western region was thus a region in crisis from the onset of post-colonial rule. By the time of the military coup, Chief Obafemi Awolowo himself was incarcerated for treason and the region was practically on an uncontrollable violence and trajectory of self destruction for almost two years from 1964 to 1966. At the same time that the Western region was aflame the Eastern region was calm and democratic. Unlike the Western region there were no cases of election rigging, thuggery or other such acts of lawlessness in the East. In the North there was sporadic violence in the TIV division which was put down by the military.
Of all the regions, the western region was torn the most by crisis and acts of lawlessness which eventually occasioned the coup. If the leadership of the Western region had played by the rules and avoided the infighting, the election rigging, the thuggery, the planning of a coup in 1963, the arson, the mass murders and other such corrupt acts and vices many of which were being introduced for the first time in Nigeria and which incidentally continues to haunt the nation to date, there would have been no coup and Nigeria would no doubt have immensely benefitted from a functional democracy devoid of election rigging, thuggery and violence as it obtains in many progressive nations around the world.
The leadership of the Western region in conspiracy with Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello are singularly responsible for the events and crisis that truncated the first republic and ruined the nation. It is thus surprising that the likes of Femi Fani Kayode has conveniently chosen to engage in deceit, half truths and to forget or ignore the irresponsibility and corruption of the Western region leadership including his own father Remi Fani Kayode in creating the crisis that led to the coup. Fani Kayode and his gang of tribalists should ordinarily be grateful because the coup halted the violence and self destruction of the Western region. Instead of wallowing in endless deceit and laughable propaganda, Fani Kayode and his co travellers should take responsibility for the corruption, election rigging and other problems the Western region pioneered that continues to haunt the nation.
At the time of the coup, the Igbo by virtue of hardwork were dominant in Nigeria. About 70% of the officer corps of the Nigerian army were Igbo, the federal civil service had a large Igbo retinue, the first indigenous permanent secretary Mr Francis Nwokedi, the first president of the Nigerian stock exchange Sir Louis Ojukwu, the first indigenous general officer commanding the Nigerian army General Aguiyi Ironsi, the first indigenous Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos professor Eni Njoku, the second president of the Nigerian senate Nwafor Orizu, first governor General of Nigeria Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe amongst so many other top scale posts in the public and private sector were held by the Igbo. Two of Nigeria’s four regions namely, the Midwest and Eastern region were controlled by Chief Dennis Osadebay and Dr Micheal Okpara both Igbo. What then did a so called Igbo coup as alleged by bigots like Fani Kayode stand to gain when they were already at the pinnacle of Nigeria?
The Igbo could as well as have said to hell with the Western region, let them kill and destroy themselves. They could even have joined Akintola and Tafawa Balewa’s conspiracy to further the destruction and decimation of the Western region. But that was never the case. Those who carried out the coup choose to act out of genuine anger and frustration at the carnage in the Western region. Whatever the demerits of the coup, It is obvious the coupists had nothing to gain other than the patriotic urge to end the corruption and lawlessness that had taken hold of the nation particularly the Western region.
It is a good lesson for the future that those of them like Fani kayode and his ilk whose region created the crisis that occasioned the coup and whose region the coup saved from self destruction are some of the biggest ungrateful noisemakers who peddle the propaganda of colouring an anti corruption revolutionary coup with patriotic ideals very similar to that of Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings in a tribal garb. In Ghana, Jerry Rawlings led a coup that eliminated three former heads of state, top military officers and top members of the judiciary. Not one of those killed was from Jerry Rawlings Ewe tribe, but Ghanaians didn’t spew tribalism into the coup and Ghana is better for it. With too many vultures and opportunists like Fani Kayode preying on tribalism in Nigeria the story was bound to be different and thus a coup driven out of patriotism and obvious anger at the state of affairs was reconstructed as an Igbo coup and the worms were let out from the woodwork.
It is not a surprise that Femi Fani Kayode has striven to justify the pogrom/genocide of innocent Eastern civilians by cowardly soldiers that crossed over from a political coup to target and kill defenceless civilians in the aftermath of the counter-coup. A man of such debased mind, lacking any ounce of civility or humanity cannot possibly have the rationality to realise that the killing of innocent civilians cannot be justified under any circumstances. That is off course why we have the international criminal courts (ICC) to bring to justice all those who cross the line. All the lies peddled by sadistic genocide justifiers, including the song by Rex Lawson “Ewu na be kwa” which was claimed to be an Igbo song that celebrated the coup have come to nought. A simple Google or YouTube search will show that Rex Lawson is a Kalabari whose song was in the market long before the coup. Those who commit atrocities will always seek to justify it. The Holocaust perpetrators sought to justify it, but they all faced justice in the end.
There is and never can be any justification for genocide. It is simply impossible to justify the slaying of innocent civilians in the same way that I am sure Fani kayode himself would never accept to be held accountable for a crime real or perceived committed by his child, sibling or parents. At the height of the provocation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin towers and killed over 3000 Americans, it is unthinkable that President George Bush would tacitly encourage enraged Americans to commence a mass slaughter of Muslims living in the USA, neither would prime minister David Cameron have condoned a mass slaughter of Nigerians or Muslims after two Nigerian Muslim terrorists Micheal Adebolaja and Micheal Adebowale undertook the highly provocative slaughtering of a British soldier on the streets of London. The parents of the Nigerian terrorists still live in Britain unmolested.
Indeed, even in war where killing is the only business; it is a war crime to kill an enemy soldier who has surrendered, just as it is also a crime to rape women or kill civilians. So many such villains who perpetrated such acts have been convicted in the international criminal court. If it could be recognised that even in war, the killing of a surrendered combatant or civilian is a criminal offence; one wonders where sadists and psychopaths like Fani Kayode could find the logic to justify an act of genocide on innocent civilians. I followed the capture and killing of the Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and noted that in spite of his murderous rampage and atrocities against America, neither his wives nor children were arrested or killed. American Special Forces simply dealt with the culprit and left. This is in recognition of the fact that no matter how guilty Osama Bin Laden may be, you cannot transfer his guilt to his wives or children just because they happen to be related.
Any law respecting people and society cannot accept such violations. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Femi Fani Kayode and his group of sadists and psychopaths prefers injustice and anarchy to a rights respecting society, they are after all a different species of homo sapiens, the type that laid waste to Nigeria, the type that entrenched corruption, injustice and impunity. Ironically chief MKO Abiola later became a victim of the injustice and impunity the likes of Femi Fani Kayode justifies and helped to create in Nigeria when he was murdered in cold blood following the annulation of his election victory.
As a direct offshoot of the pogroms/genocide, Biafra was a necessary, legitimate, courageous and legendary act of self defence in the face of the mass slaughter/genocide of over 50,000 innocent Eastern civilians in the North while the head of state Yakubu Gowon whose most fundamental responsibility is to protect life and property under all circumstances did nothing and even promoted the Nigerian army and police officers who perpetrated the genocide. Nigeria died from the moment that pogrom was unleashed and remains dead even today. It is no surprise that the nation is mired in strife and deafened by the campaign for a “sovereign national conference” which in itself is a certain vindication of Biafra. If Chief Obafemi Awolowo was alive in today’s Nigeria, he would be among the chief advocates of a sovereign national conference. As Lt General Alanni Akinrinnade said recently, “the lesson of the century is that no group has the right to usurp the right of another to self determination.” It should be a source of shame to Fani Kayode that his kith and kin participated in the unjust and needless war to usurp the inalienable rights of a people to self determination as recognised in international law in this.
The heroic Biafran resistance against all odds remains a legend unparalleled in Africa. Movies have been made from it and books continue to be written about it. It is Africa’s first modern warfare and a story of extraordinary courage and resistance by a Biafran army fighting with almost bare hands and without salary but yet able to hold out against a gang up of the rest of Nigeria (247 ethnic groups againt 3 ethnic groups) for almost 3 years. In spite of having a ceaseless flow of sophisticated weapons courtesy of British and Russian support, the Nigerian army had to fight for every inch of ground and were locked down for almost three years by a Biafran army fighting with bare hands. I know of no one in the East who has any regrets over Biafra and Fani Kayode can rest assured that if the situation presents itself again, Biafrans will mobilise to fight again but this time, the theatre of war will be different and Nigeria will surely become history.
The Price of Nigerian Tribalism:
The Fani Kayode’s of this world who thrive on tribalism are Nigeria’s greatest fault line. Such characters used tribalism to incite a pogrom, a needless civil war and to wreck Nigeria with corruption and injustice. They have so entrenched tribalism that Nigerian leaders now enjoy an unwritten “ethnic immunity” from all kinds of impunity and looting of the public coffers. This is why it has become practically impossible to hold any government official accountable for their crimes, and so corruption thrives unabated in Nigeria.
In 1979 Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings organised a revolutionary coup very similar in its anti-corruption ideals to the January 1966 coup. In prosecuting the coup, three former heads of states, five generals and one colonel were executed. Three Supreme Court judges were also executed. A further 155 officers were jailed. Interestingly none of those executed were from Jerry Rawlings Ewe tribe, but Ghanaians did not inject tribalism into the coup. Jerry Rawlings succeeded in eradicating corruption, cleaning up the state, entrenching accountability and laying the foundation for the functional democracy and prosperity Ghana now enjoys.
Had tribalism been injected into the Jerry Rawlings coup as it was in Nigeria, the coup would have failed, the forces of corruption would have won and Ghana like Nigeria would since have become a failed state convulsed by strife. Thus, the agents of tribalism like Fani Kayode who inject tribalism into every issue as he did the issue of deportations from Lagos present the greatest danger to Nigeria’s survival. Such characters would stop at nothing to perpetuate Nigeria’s tribal divide which keeps them immune from prosecution. If Nigeria was a normal nation Femi Fani Kayode would be cooling his heels in prison for his loot while a minister of aviation. But Nigeria’s abnormality engendered by tribalism has ensured his freedom, and so like father like son he continues the perfidy of seeking relevance through bigotry and advantage through corruption.
It is a tragedy that such dubious men of low character and doubtful sanity like the Fani Kayode’s who could go to the abominable extent of publishing the list of women he claims to have dated on the pages of newspapers make up Nigeria’s leadership class. Little wonder Nigeria is an exception in failure. Someone suggested the real reason for his anger; outburst and aggravation of his considerably diminished mental state might not be unconnected with the fact that his corrupt father Remi Kayode was deposed by the January 1966 mutineers. Whatever the truth maybe, the likes of Fani Kayode and his bigotry remains a danger to any society that is unfortunate enough to have him in their midst.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu