My late uncle, Mr. Bonny M. Anokwuru, the man responsible for my upbringing and everything good about me today (God rest his sweet soul), had a humorous way of capturing situations. It was from him I learnt that it is usually those who are nothing really that are quickest to describe themselves as “a whole me”.
So, I already had that wisdom long before I chanced upon the saying that ’empty barrels make the most noise’.
It was, therefore, the loving memories of Dee Bonny (as we fondly called my uncle) that came flooding into my mind as I watched the video of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode’s ranting in Calabar.
However, that is not to say that the former minister, whose apology I have since accepted, is an empty barrel. Far from it. He went to school. Some of the best schools. He learnt well. He clearly excelled academically. But since he did not attend the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where our degrees were usually awarded for ‘Learning and Character”, I can only vouch for FFK on the former.
Even if I’m tempted to, what he said, sometime ago, concerning his liaison with the the Miss Bianca Onoh (now Iyom Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, widow of Eze-Igbo Gburugburu) in London still leaves a sour taste in my palate.
For one, if most of us did not marry our present spouses as virgins, it necessarily means that we were with other persons before we eventually married our present partners. So, why on earth should we be going to town with embarrassing details of that relationship when we have all moved on? That does not do much credit to the tale bearer’s character. It is even worse, when it is another Ibadan female tale bearer (an FFK friend of an even more questionable character) who had to reconfirm the salacious details of the UK sexcapedes. Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are!.
But that’s story for another day.
The first time I learnt that my friend and former minister Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) was on a national junket, inspecting projects, the first question that came to my mind was: who is funding the project. So, that Daily Trust reporter asked a question I would have asked. A question most journalists ( and I dare say, Nigerians) would have asked. The reporter didn’t even need to put the sugar coating he respectfully put around his question.
I didn’t even know FFK also visited Anambra, but when he turned up in Cross River State, after I’d seen him in Zamfara, I concluded it must be a PDP project. Maybe the opposition party wanted to showcase the massive developmental strides in PDP-goverened states, as a way to better market the party to the electorate
Of course, I wondered what informed the joice of FFK for such a project, knowing that he naturally carries a political and character baggage that might prove counter productive. But I was wrong. The trip was FFK’s personal racket.
However, I was under no illusion that he was funding the junket from his pocket. I’m not aware that his pocket is deep enough.
Yes, it is not. Forget all the grandstanding about “do you know who I am?… a former minister?… a lawyer?”. As they say in my neck of the wood, “everything na wash”!
But before we go far, however, let’s x-ray all that FFK brandished before us, which, by implications, guarantees him a limitless financial war chest.
As at the time he was minister, ministers did not earn up to a million Naira monthly – I doubt they do so, even now. Now, add everything he earned as minister together, compound it with the criminal amounts our political office holders pay to themselves in allowances. The total sum would hardly be enough for the upkeep of that my beautiful sister that he is married to, let alone the twins and their big brother. And that is not saying anything about funding the lifestyle of those other girls from his other marriages, some of whom are alleged to be living on the wild side abroad.
So, unless FFK is confessing that he helped himself to the national till, as the EFCC is alleging, I doubt he would have enough to ‘bankroll” any dogooder national project inspection tour.
Now, someone would remind me that FFK is also a lawyer. I don’t doubt it. I’m also not privy to all his briefs, or even the address of his chambers. What I can do, however, is to call the inland revenue people to confirm how much tax he and his chambers paid from the stupendous amounts they made from their businesses. That would give me an idea of how well his law practice is doing.
The former minister also boasted about how he “spends” and doesn’t “take”. Hmmm. I laugh in vernacular!
Pray thee, who in Nigeria can swear that he does not “take”? Even serving governors, who are know to ‘give’ have been caught on camera ‘taking’, and stuffing into their babanriga. Others were captured putting theirs in their cap.
Even if you’re the one printing our currency notes, you can never be so rich that you won’t “take”.
In a country where over 90% of the money we spend comes from government, it means we all “take” at one point or the other. The only difference is who we take from.
Taking can come in the form of out right ‘dash’, Gifting of genuine contracts, kickbacks, inflated contract sums, or even contracts that are given, with mobilization paid, but which are never executed.
I’m sure if we invite former Rivers State governor, Sir Peter Odili (or even Hon. Rotimi Amaechi), we might unearth a few instances where even FFK did “take”. And if we don’t want to go that far, we might just invite former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, and a few others around the 2015 PDP presidential campaign to shed more light on who ‘took’ and who did not ‘take’.
So, my brother FFK, don’t even go there. We all ‘take’. Even captains of the organized private sector ‘take’, even if it is only ordinary import waivers or curious ‘licences’. We journalists are even modest, we still take ours in envelops. Our counterparts take theirs in Ghana Must Go and bullion vans. Others simply add zeroes behind figures and walk away, like nothing happened.
Finally, my dear brother, please, don’t be too eager to bring up the issue of your father and your privileged birth.
Or else, you would force people to interrogate a historical developments we deliberately chose to overlook.
One of my more favourite Igbo philosophies is the one about the out-of-wedlock child. The Igbo usually accept such a child wholeheartedly, with all the privileges. However, when such a child begins to insult the fathers of other children, then the community is wont to ask him to produce his own father.
My dear FFK, your carryings-on in the recent past (especially on the social media) have largely amounted to insulting other people’s fathers. That is why they are now raking up muck, not only from better-forgotten past, but about your until-now legendary father.
Yes, like every true child, you’re proud of your father, and actually lionise him. We can’t begrudge you that. For most of us, our fathers, rich or poor, were ourvreal-life heroes. And we’re so blinded by hero-worshiping them that we forget that none of us ever has the complete picture of who our fathers really were. There is always somebody somewhere who knows some little detail we never knew.
So, my dear FFK, when you begin to ‘piss’ on the grave of other people’s fathers, they are bound to revisit your own father. And tell you that the same Fani Power (Remi Fani-Kayode, your dad), who you’d have us deify among the brave gods of our victorious past, was indeed a coward. Or worse; a traitor. I doubt this is the reality you’d want to live with.
But surely, your Calabar misadventure has left an enduring lesson for us all, one of which is that we should all learn not to give what we can’t take. And that everyone has capacity to spew rubbish, it is proper upbringing that enables us keep it bottled up.