(being a speech delivered by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode to the De Raufs Volunteer Group at Ife Town Hall, Ile-Ife, Osun State on 24th September 2013)
Blessed be the name of the most high God, the God whose I am and the God whom I serve, blessed be His holy name forever.
Mr. Chairman, permit me to declare all protocols observed. I thank the leaders of the De Raufs Volunteer Group and Comrade Amitolu Shittu, the Director General, for the distinct honour and privilage of inviting me here to share a few words with them today. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is not only a personal friend of mine but he is also a man that I have always had immense respect for. I remember the days of NADECO when the yoruba nation was under threat and when the free and fair election of a proud and noble son of the yoruba by the name of Chief MKO Abiola was annuled by the military.
Ogbeni was one of those that manned the ramparts in those difficult days and risked all to fight for the interests of our people and to restore our dignity, our glory and our self-respect. Unlike others he did not compromise and do dirty deals behind closed doors with the military but instead he stood firm with an iron will and a strong resolve to face the challenge of that day and fight a good fight. For this alone and for his marvellous work in Osun state as governor in the last three years, history and posterity will be very kind to him.
Yet the challenges that our people, the yoruba people of south western Nigeria, are facing in our nation today are even greater than those that we faced in the days of NADECO. I say this because never in the history of our country has the yoruba suffered so much shame, marginalisation, humiliation, insults, contempt, aggression and disgrace as they have under the present dispensation and under the auspices of the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan. They have literally brought us to our knees and deprived and denied us, with relish, of our rightful place in the scheme of things in the Nigerian contraption. Under this government we do not have any positions in the top twenty key positions in this country.
We do not have adequate representation at the Federal level. We do not have strong Ministries or strong and credible Ministers with a grassroots following, We cannot get jobs for our teeming youths or the kind of opportunities that are freely given to others. Our businessmen cannot get a fair share of government patronage and that which they already had and that they acquired before the advent of Goodluck is being whittled down and taken away from them. Worst still, the President has flippantly referred to our people as ”rascals” on a number of occassions even though he came to power with the support and on the back of yoruba votes in 2011.
Things have never been this bad for our people at the Federal level. Even under the military government of General Abacha who killed, jailed, assaulted and drove most of our leaders into exile we at least had a number two that was a yorubaman for most of the time. Yet under Goodluck Jonathan, such is his contempt for our people that we have absolutely nothing and most of our politicians and businessmen are systematically humiliated and denied of that which is rightfully theirs.
If you have any doubt about that just look at the shabby way he has treated another distinguished son of the yoruba by the name of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the man that single-handedly brought him out of the oblivion of Deputy Governor and made him Governor, Vice President and then later President. The rift between Jonathan and those that are behind him and Obasanjo and those that are with him has torn the ruling PDP into shreds and we can only hope and pray that the fight does not sink the Nigerian ship of state. Yet such is the contempt that Jonathan has for the yoruba and indeed anyone that has helped him in the past that it has all come to this.
Today other tribes and nationalities are being treated unfairly by the Federal Government which is contrary to the provisions of Federal Character that are enshrined in our laws. Our leaders have to be courageous enough to stand up and speak the bitter truth and say ”enough is enough”. For example It is only under this Federal Government that any group of non-yoruba can confidently claim that even one inch of Lagos state, or indeed any other part of yorubaland, was developed solely by their money, their efforts and their sweat and then go a step further by claiming that that land and territory actually belongs to them. And instead of being told off for their effontry they receive a secret pat on the back from the powers that be that control the Federal Government.
It is only under this Federal Government that, according to Rotimi Amaechi the Governor of Rivers state, two powerful, sophisticated, well-armed and highly efficient combat helicopters can be ordered and brought into the country to fight and bring an end to the massive oil theft that has gone on in the Niger Delta area for the last three years yet when those helicopters arrived the President simply refused to use and deploy them for reasons best known to himself. I have the utmost respect for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is especially because I am someone who had the privilage of working in that office for three years before I became a Federal Minister when I was spokesman to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Yet even though my respect for that office remains intact I am constrained to say that I have nothing but contempt for the way that it is presently being run and I have no qualms about criticising the performance of our President and his government. As a matter of fact I consider it as part of my civic duty to do so. The truth is that this government is fast living up to it’s reputation of being utterly clueless and manifestly dishonest. Worse still their incompetence, whether it is to do with the handling of security matters or the economy has no bounds and knows no end.
I say this because more people have been killed by terrorists under the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan and in the last three years than at any other time in our history outside the period of the civil war. 7000 Nigerians have met their bloody end at the hands of Boko Haram in the last three years and even as we speak today there are paerts of our country that are under lock down and in a state of emergency where innocent Nigerians are being slaughtered by our own security forces. Under this President Nigeria has become an abbatoir of human flesh and blood yet he still has the sheer effontry to say that he wants to return to power in 2015 and some around him have said that ”if Goodluck is not re-elected in 2015 there will be bloodshed”. Such threats and such words against the Nigerian people yet no-one in government has seen fit to call those that harbour such bloody and violent sentiments to order. What a government we have and what a country and what a people we are.
The President has divided his own party and his own nation more than any other President in the history of Nigeria simply due to his lust for power and his blind ambition to succeeed himself at all costs in 2015. Yet regardless of his desperation and their threats this must not be allowed to happen. We must not allow it to happen regardless of the efforts of the fifth columnists amongst us in yorubaland that still support him for the crumbs that they are getting from his table. If he comes back in 2015, by the time he finishes in 2019 the yoruba will have been reduced to nothing but errand boys and slaves to others. That is the hidden agenda. Worse still Nigeria will be irretrievably destroyed and she will never be the same again. The challenge of every self-respecting yoruba man today is therefore simple and clear- we must stop Jonathan from coming back to office in 2015 and we must vote him out of power when the time comes. We must do this for the sake of our people in the south-west and we must do so for the sake of the people of Nigeria.
It is with this background in mind and in the knowledge of President Goodluck Jonathan’s desperate and unholy intention to return to power at all costs in 2015 that I feel compelled to share the following words of wisdom from our Royal Father, the Alafin of Oyo, HRH Oba Lamidi Adeyemi with you. Just a few days ago he said the following- “My fatherly advice to those in authority at the federal level and especially our amiable President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is to learn from the mistakes of his very illustrious predecessor, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, by resisting any temptation to take the ‘west by all means.’” Kabiyesi has spoken well and a word is enough for the wise.
A few more words on President Jonathan. Two days ago he reportedly asked the Nigerian people to ”leave him alone” and let him ”do his job” and challenged us to point out, with facts and figures, evidence of his corruption. I will do so here and now by simply asking a few questions which I had originally asked in another speech at another distinguished gathering in Lagos on April 2013 and which they refused to answer. Now that our President has thrown down the gauntlet and asked us to challenge him perhaps these questions will now be answered. The questions are as follows.
When will our President and his ”today’s men” answer David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom’s, question and tell him what they did with the 100 billion USD that they made from oil sales in the last two years? When will they answer the question that many of us have asked over and over again about how they squandered 67 billion USD of our foreign reserves? When will they answer the question that Nasir El Rufai asked sometime back about how they spent over 350 billion naira on security vote in one year alone? When will they answer the many questions that Pat Utomi and many other distinguishedand courageous leaders and ”yesterday’s men” have raised about the trillions of naira that have been supposedly spent on oil subsidy payments in the last two years?
When will they implement the findings and recommendations of the Nuhu Ribadu report on the thievery that has gone on in the oil sector? When will they cultivate the guts and find the courage to respond to a call for a public debate to defend their abysmal record? When will these ”today’s men” stop being so reckless with our money? Why would our ”today’s man” FCT Minister budget 5 billion for the ”rehabilitatioin of prostitues in the Abuja”? Why would he budget 7.5 billion naira for a new ”FCT city gate”? Why would he budget 4 billion naira for some kind of building or centre for the First Lady? Why would the Federal Government of ”todays men” budget 1 billion naira for food in the Villa? Are these the priorities of ”today’s men”?
And all this when Nigeria is back in foreign debt to the tune of 9 billion USD and is still borrowing, when local debt has hit almost 50 billion USD, when 40 per cent of the Nigerian people are unemployed, when 80 per cent of our graduates are unemploymed, when 40 per cent of Nigerians do not have access to good food and are described by the U.N.D.P as being ”hungry”, when 50 per cent of our oil production is being stolen on a daily basis by pirates and bunkerers and when 70 per cent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line? Is this the vision of ”today’s men”? If so, may God deliver Nigeria.
So much destruction and disaster all wrought in the space of three years and by just one man. That is the legacy of President Goodluck Jonathan and his ”todays men”. Yet just as it took one man to take us to these dingy and depressing depths so it will take one man to lift us up again to the heights of glory. It took Adam, who was just one man, to destroy humanity and take away all that God had given unto us so freely. Yet it took just one other man, by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to redeem mankind, to restore us, to reconcile us with God and and to once again grant us our salvation and give us dominion over the earth. One man destroyed and another came down, as God incarnate in the flesh, and restored all.
In 2015 we hope such a man that is strong, decisive, clear-thinking, fair-minded and truly patriotic will emerge. A man that has vision and appreciates the importance of justice, fairness and equity. A man that is not bound or blinded by his tribal and religious preferences and sentiments but that understands the importance of reaching out to others, including the weakest and the most vulnerable in our society. A man that will create a level playing field for all Nigerians and a man that is ready, willing and able to rebuild our infrastructres and enable the Nigerian people to achieve their full potentials. We need a man that fears God and in whom the Spirit of the Lord resides. That is the kind of leader that Nigeria requires if our fortunes are to be restored as a nation.
Yet I did not come all the way here to the ancient city of Ile-Ife, my hometown, the land of my forefathers, the royal seat of my father the Ooni of Ife, HRH Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse 11, just to talk about the failings of President Goodluck Jonathan or the successes and great strides of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the state. I came here primarily to talk about the fortunes of the yoruba nation of which every son and daughter of Osun is a proud member. I had the honour of delivering a speech at a gathering of the Kurunmi Front, which is an exceptionally powerful and credible yoruba nationalist group, just a few days ago.
Permit me to share aspects of that speech with you here today because we need to drive home the numerous points to our people and bring to the fore the terrible price that we may have to pay for our apparant apathy and, in some cases, collusion, with those that do not have our interest at heart. The speech reads as follows. (to be continued)
(being Part 1 of a speech delivered by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode to the De Raufs Volunteer Group at Ife Town Hall, Ile-Ife, Osun State on 24th September 2013).