Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Thursday, reacted angrily to insinuations that he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) for financial reasons.
He also explained why he was not bothered about his past criticisms against President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC administration.
Mr Fani-Kayode officially dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling APC on Thursday after years of criticising the party.
He was once quoted as saying “he would rather die than join the APC”.
The news of Mr Fani-Kayode’s defection went viral after Femi Adesina, a spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, shared pictures of the ex-minister as he was welcomed to the party at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
He was flanked by the president, the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Governor, Mala Buni of Yobe State and other dignitaries.
His defection came after months of speculations and denials.
I am not bothered by criticism’
Speaking on “Politics Today” a programme aired on Channels Television, shortly after his visit to Villa, Mr Fani-Kayode said he was proud of his decision to dump the PDP for the APC.
“I’m proud to be here, it doesn’t matter what people say or think,” apparently conscious of what critics would say.
“Let’s not focus on what FFK has done or said. Let’s focus on building our country, bridges to ensure that we don’t turn on one another as a people and end up having a civil war.”
He reacted angrily when the anchor of the programme, Seun Okinbaloye, read a comment from a critic linking his defection to possible financial incapacity or inducement.
Mr Fani-Kayode fired back, saying he did not expect such a ridiculous and absurd question from the programme host.
“I don’t expect that kind of ridiculous and absurd question from you, okay? I have never lacked for finances (sic). There are no financial inducements. Politicians don’t move because of finances. If I had wanted to move because of finances, I would have done that a long time ago.
“I have struggled and fought over the last six years more than any of the *little monkeys that said what you just said to me now and I stand proud and tall of the kind of family I come from, the kind of background I have, finance has never been an issue,” he fired back.
He told his supporters to trust his new decision as it was “in the best interest of Nigeria”.
Mr Fani-Kayode continued, “You can insult me from morning to night, it means nothing to me.
“What is important to me is my God and the fact that I am doing the right thing at the right time. I am considerably more wealthy than most people think and I don’t need anything from anybody.”
Mr Fani-Kayode wondered why his critics did not criticise him when he was fighting the government but chose to do so now that he joined the APC.
“When I was fighting the government you didn’t talk about financing or no financing but now that I am not fighting the government, you are talking about financing, it is an old narrative.
“It is an old story from Nigerians, especially from Nigerians from a particular segment of the society like to say about those of us that are from the elite and I am not prepared to respond to that kind of rubbish and I am surprised you would ask me that kind of question.”
PREMIUM TIMES once reported how Mr Fani-Kayode insulted a Daily Trust correspondent who had asked him at a press conference ‘who was bankrolling’ his frequent trips across the nation a couple of months back. He later apologised after the public backlash.
Asked if he has changed his critical views on Mr Buhari and the APC administration, the former minister said the party was no longer the same as it was when he was criticising it.
“The leadership of the APC has evolved and that evolution has attracted people, intellectual people, sharp, focused, people that want to keep Nigeria together and want to treat Nigerians as one regardless of religion or ethnic differences,” he stated even as he spoke glowingly about as the ‘magnanimity’ of the party leadership and his reception by Mr Buhari earlier in the day.
He added, “The APC of today is a liberal party. It is not a hardline party, it is accommodating. It is a party that is prepared to take people that do not share the same view with others. That is how every political party ought to be.
“I didn’t just perceive it, I have built bridges with these people, I have worked with them and I am proud to be here.
“I will not say anything about the other side, I will not say anything negative about the PDP but let me put this to you, there are still lots of issues that need to be resolved in the PDP just as there are in any other political parties.
“The leadership of the APC has evolved and that evolution has attracted people, intellectual people, sharp, focus and that want to keep Nigeria together and want to treat Nigerians as one regardless of religion or ethnic differences.
“I will not die. I will live long because I made the right choices at the right time. I won’t just stay in the PDP because I said something in the past, I will move when it’s time to move forward.
His controversial politics
Mr Fani-Kayode, 61, hails from Ife in Osun State.
He once served as a special assistant on public affairs to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was later appointed minister of culture and tourism and later minister of aviation by the former president.
He also served as spokesperson for the campaign organisation of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP candidate in the 2015 presidential election.
Mr Fani-Kayode first dumped the PDP in 2013 for the yet to be registered APC until June 2014, when he returned to the former ahead of the 2015 General Elections.
As soon as he returned, the former minister, who commands a large following on social media, became prominent for criticising the APC and Mr Buhari-led government for its decisions.
The speculation of his defection first went viral on social media in February after a meeting with the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, and Mr Buni.
Mr Bello’s public confirmation of Mr Fani-Kayode’s defection days later was countered as the latter denied ever making such a decision and reiterated his commitment to the PDP.
Amidst his denials and ‘dislike’ for APC style of governance, the former minister attended the wedding ceremony of Mr Buhari’s son, Yusuf, to Zahra Bayero in Kano in August this year.
He was in the company of Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Babagana Zulum of Borno State, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, among other dignitaries he had publicly criticised in recent times.
Mr Fani-Kayode was once arraigned alongside a former finance minister, Nenadi Usman and two others by the EFCC for alleged money laundering to the tune of over N4 billion..
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