Femi Fani-Kayode: A Bigoted, Anti-Igbo Tribalist, By Femi Aribisala

The year was 1965. I was an innocent starry-eyed 13 year-old and Nigeria was in turmoil. It was the era of the “wetie,” when the houses of politicians and key public-figures were burnt down in the brouhaha that was then Western Nigeria.


We lived in Oke-Ado in Ibadan and our next-door neighbour was Chief Ogundiran, a minister in the government of Chief S.L. Akintola, the Premier of the Western Region. (Ogundiran was famous for only wearing white.) In the spirit of the times, a mob came early one morning and burnt down his house. He jumped out of the window and managed to escape.

Fani-Power, Fani-igbo: I was having private lessons in Mathematics at the home of a colleague, Enitan Abiodun, when we heard the noise of a crowd outside. We rushed to the veranda to see Chief Remi Fani-Kayode (alias Fani-Power), then Deputy Governor of the Western Region, standing on the seat of a moving convertible. He was surrounded by a mob, which was shouting and hailing him.

On hearing the noise, Enitan’s mother rushed to the veranda shouting “Awo!” only to discover that the people outside were not supporters of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, but those of his arch-enemies. The shout of “Awo!” by Mrs. Abiodun brought the procession to a screeching halt. “Who said that? Who said that?” demanded the mob, enraged.

“Fani-Power” turned and looked up at us. His eyes were the usual blood-shot red. At the time, many claimed it was because he regularly smoked Indian-hemp. Fani-Kayode pointed to our building and identified to his thugs that the offending shout came from our direction. We did not know that the floor of the convertible he was standing in was loaded with empty bottles.

His thugs reached for the bottles and rained them down on us as we all scrambled back inside the house for dear life. Like father, like son: That was 48 years ago. Today, Femi Fani-Kayode, the 53-year-old son of “Fani-Power,” continues in the mischievous tradition of his father: throwing dangerous missiles at the innocent. He recently wrote an incendiary article entitled: “The Bitter Truth About the Igbo,” in which he maligned the Igbos and virtually told them to get out of Lagos and leave Lagos for the Yorubas.

What is peculiar about the article is that Femi Fani-Kayode himself is no more Lagosian than the Igbos he berates. The Fani-Kayodes are not from Lagos. They are from Ile-Ife in OsunState. Femi Fani-Kayode’s only legitimate claim to Lagos is that he was born there. But then so were many Igbos who are, therefore, Lagosians. Moreover, Igbo-Lagosians have one up on Femi Fani-Kayode.

They live in Lagos. Femi Fani-Kayode does not. Igbo-Lagosians work in Lagos and pay taxes to the LagosState government. Femi Fani-Kayode does not. Therefore, what right does he have to write his diatribe against them? What right does he have to maintain Lagos does not belong to Igbo-Lagosians? Having thrown these bottles maliciously, Femi Fani-Kayode decided to throw a few more.

He wrote another invective entitled: “A Word For Those Who Say I Am A Tribalist.” In order to demonstrate that he was not anti-Igbo, he presented the cliché that some of his best friends are Igbos. As proof, he detailed three Igbo women (some of them happily-married) he claims to have had affairs with. Only God knows how this shows he is not biased against the Igbos.

Slave-traders slept with their slaves. Is that proof they were not racist? The jury is out already. Femi Fani-Kayode is a bigoted tribalist. Only a tribalist can say he is not anti-Igbo and then say this about the Igbos: “(They are) collectively unlettered, uncouth, uncultured, unrestrained and crude in all their ways.” “They have no restraining factors because money and the acquisition of wealth is their sole objective and purpose in life.”

Clearly, Femi Fani-Kayode is out of control. He has become something of a train-wreck. He was President Obasanjo’s agent-provocateur for so long, where he maligned elder-statesmen like Yakubu Gowon; he no longer knows how to speak with decorum. The American model: I am Yoruba. Nevertheless, I repeat; the Igbos of Lagos are Lagosians. They are Lagosians whether ethnic jingoists like Femi Fani-Kayode like it or not. The Lagos branch of the old Action Congress of Nigeria acknowledged that no less than 45% of the population of Lagos is Igbo.

That is a fact that cannot be ignored or simply wished-away. It is not improbable that, in a few years time, the majority of people living in Lagos will be Igbos. Short of changing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that tells me an Igbo man can rightfully become the future Governor of Lagos State. That should give some food-for-thought to the Fani-Kayodes.

The system of government in Nigeria is modeled after that of the United States. In the U.S., Hilary Clinton is a native of Illinois. Nevertheless, in 2000 she contested for election as Senator in New York and won. She was eligible to run for the seat simply because she and her husband moved to New York and lived there for only one year. Similarly, some Ibos have been in Lagos for 50 years.

That should make them eligible to run for office. If they vote the ethnic card, as Yorubas often do, Femi Fani-Kayode might have a heart-attack. An Igbo man might conceivably become the Governor of Lagos State. That is what democracy is all about. The growing political muscle of Igbo-Lagosians has been obscured by electoral malpractices. That cannot last forever. Sooner than later, Igbo-Lagosians will start to pull their political weight in Lagos.

True indigenes of Lagos, as opposed to carpet-baggers like the Fani-Kayodes, have traditionally been open-minded about Igbos and non-indigenes. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a Nigerian nationalist who happened to be Igbo, once won an election in Lagos, before Awolowo appealed to tribal politics to truncate it.

Grudging acknowledgement of the growing political clout of the Igbos led to the appointment of a token Igbo man, Pastor Ben Akabueze, as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos by Governor Babatunde Fashola; a post he has held for six years. Femi Fani-Kayode should have gone to court to challenge that appointment.

Soon, such tokenism will just not cut it. Igbo-Lagosians will demand a more proportionate share of the local political power. If they play their cards right, they will get it. Igbo-Lagosians vote in Lagos. Therefore, they can be voted for in Lagos. No constitutional amendment is required to bring this about. Given his educational background, one would have expected Fani-Kayode to be more enlightened. A Nigerian cannot be an alien in Nigeria. An Igbo man cannot be an alien in Lagos. Igbos are not illegal aliens in Lagos.

They are at home. In Nigeria, a Nigerian is entitled to live wherever he wants. If the resources of the Niger-Delta can be Nigerianised to the benefit of Yoruba-Lagosians, then Lagos cannot be the exclusive preserve of Yoruba-Lagosians. Since Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians, then Lagos belongs to all Nigerians. During the census enumeration, some of us insisted that Igbos must stay and be counted in Lagos for that very reason.

Since Igbo-Lagosians are a significant part of the local population who contribute immensely to key sectors of the economy, the national census must reflect the fact that they live and work in Lagos. I recently visited London after a ten-year absence. What I saw was a highly cosmopolitan city with people of different nationalities, including Nigerians. London is no longer a town of the English.

It is now a megalopolis in the true sense of the word. On several occasions, I overheard people speaking Yoruba in the streets of London. On one occasion, I could not resist the urge to interject, even though uninvited. Nigerians are everywhere. On a visit in May 2013 to WashingtonD.C., United States for the Nigerian Development and Finance Forum, under the auspices of Financial Nigeria Limited, I was informed by the Deputy Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States that there are currently five million Nigerians in the U.S.

There are even more Nigerians in Sudan; over eight million. Nigerians constitute a significant percentage of the population of Cote d’Ivoire. There are more Nigerians in Equatorial Guinea than Equatorial-Guineans. There is no country on planet earth where you will not find a sizeable population of Nigerians. U.N. projections predict that Nigeria will soon be the fourth largest country in the world, surpassed by only China, India and the United States. Under such circumstances, a Nigerian like Femi Fani-Kayode should not be hankering after a small real-estate called Lagos.

Nigerians must become citizens of the world. Joseph was a Jewish slave in Egypt. Nevertheless, he rose to become the Egyptian Prime-Minister. That happened in biblical days, and not twenty-first century Egypt. More recently in 2008, Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan, became president of the United States. In 2010, John Abraham Godson, a Nigerian-born Polish citizen became a Member of Parliament in Poland.

In April, 2013, Cecile Kyenge, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, became the Minister of Integration of the Republic of Italy. Surely, Femi Fani-Kayode cannot discern these signs of the times. Especially, the new Nigeria. M.K.O. Abiola, a Yoruba man, won his famous presidential election in 1993 by relying on Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and other votes. He was not just elected by Yorubas.

Yorubas did not even vote for Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. He became President by relying on northern, eastern and south-south votes. Goodluck Jonathan became president in 2011 by forging a coalition that stretched across the Niger and the Benue to all parts of Nigeria. When Odumegwu Ojukwu died, the entire nation of Nigeria consoled the Igbos.

Collectively, we declared with one voice that the civil war is truly over. We must not allow the Femi Fani-Kayodes to turn back the clock. Next time Femi Fani-Kayode wants to tell us “the bitter truth,” he should tell us about N19.5 billion Aviation Fund mismanaged under his watch as Minister of Aviation under the Obasanjo administration. That is the bitter truth we need to hear from him right now.

•Femi Aribisala, commentator on public policy and faith issues, is the fellowship coordinator of Healing Wings, a pentecostal Christian group.

Source: Premium Times



  1. we all know him from time immemorial, he is tribalistic man. I wonder, how kanus comment take concern the whole igbos as a tribe. Kanu only spoke as kanu not on our behalf. Anyway the journey has just begun, our enemies are obvious now, clearly defined.

  2. This is good.I salute your courage.The man is a nuisance.He is acting his own script,and not that of the Yorubas. As a lawyer, I expected him to know that one cannot be an alien in his own country.Anyway,what is he doing with the law he read? When Nigerians really dig deep and find out the real facts about Nigeria, no one will be calling for the dissolution of this country.We are a super power.We only need to wake up, correct the present mistakes together and take our pride of place in the comity of nations.Once we dismember, we become fragments.I tell you, the current problems will continue in the smaller entities that will spring up.There will still be corruption, insecurity, nepotism, and all the other vices.Ethnic jingoism is not the solution.This is where I pity Fani-Kayode. He deserves our pity, not our hatred.

  3. Nigeria is a great country made up of great people of which Femi Aribisala is one (God bless you Sir). My amiable Governor, Fashola made a mistake and I am sure he is in a remorse state. No doubt Femi Famukayode is high on something (Cocaine or the likes) to have referred to a race that produced most of the firsts in this country (Igbos) as unlettered. He has made a political mistake. Fani Kayode is an educated illitrate and should not be taken serious but I assure all that his political future is very bleak because Igbo votes in Osun State will flaw him when the time comes. Femi Famukayode is truly a bigotted tribalist.

  4. Here I have seen a compatriot who is truly patriotic. Mr. Femi Aribisala Sir, you have done so well. At least Nigerians have been testifying to the fact that Femi Fani Kayode is a bigot and a tribalist no matter how he tries to wiggle his way out. Your vivid and apt presentation shows that there are still attentive, honest and patriotic Nigerians; who cannot easily be knocked out of concentration by this discordant fellow, who lacks the credentials to speak for a respectable tribe like the Yoruba.

    Fani Kayode with his brain-sucking amoebic reasoning and moral ineptitude, would have been wiser if he had kept quiet,hold his oral diarrhea in check as to enable him to alert his subconscious mind to reserve his dignity and respect. Indeed, we all are waiting for the bitter truth which is, that Fani Kayode must have to explain to Nigerians what happened to the Aviation fund under his care. (ole buruku)

  5. Yes, a compatriot and truely patriotic indeed. Mr. femi Aribisala will not die in his sixties nor seventies. The Lord will keep me Alive to correct and redirect ill-minded fellows like Fani-kayode’s. God bless you sir.

  6. I salute you my dear brother Aribisala, Sir may God bless you and your generations to come. My yoruba brothers and sisters where are you? Have you all now become dumb to the truth and justice displayed by our own wise,intelligent, God fearing and exposed brother? May God help us to eschew hatred, injustice,prejudice and tribalism because what goes around comes around; the measure you use for others will be used for you; whatever a man sow he’ll reap personally and extendedly; honesty and justice will always hunt its enemies; the laws of retribution and Karma are still very active in life for as you make your bed you must lie on it; the evil that men do lives with them and after them since when the chips are down we’ll all be accoutable to God for our actions and inactions.
    Fani attacked an entire tribe Instead of attacking the man who has made the statements which was not an insultive one but a mere claim.
    Fani and any Yoruba who supports this is an enemy justice, peace and equity so should have a rethink befor FFk who is obviously satanic drives us into worse logger heads. God bless Nigeria