Nigeria’s former Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode who served during the Obasanjo administration bares it all in this exclusive interview with Wale Aladejana of My Testimonys Blog on Nigeria, its security challenges and the Federal Government’s stance on granting Amnesty to members of the Islamists sect, Boko Haram.
In a down-to-earth manner, he offers the solution to insurgency and reveals what he believes will be the next string of events in our nation. Enjoy:
Wale: Tell us about politics; is it spiritual and how spiritual is it?
FFK: All power belongs to God and the heavens rule in the affairs of men, just as the bible says. Everything in the physical realm is controlled by the spiritual realm. Politics is very spiritual indeed.
Nobody comes to power at any level unless God causes him to be there for a purpose either for good or for bad. So if you want to be king or you want to be a leader the first thing you have to do is understand that only God can make you that king or that leader.
If you look at Nigeria, nobody that has aspired for the office of the President in this country and that has all the wherewithal to do it, whether it’s the money or the power, has ever got there. Usually what happens is that somebody from out of nowhere, as a consequence of a series and a string of strange events, will suddenly be chosen by a group of other people to come and sit on the throne.
This happened from the First Republic to the Second Republic. Tafawa Balewa was a teacher and Shehu Shagari was a teacher as well. They didn’t have money or anything yet they became Prime Minister and President respectively. Those in the military that came to power never dreamt they will be in power but somehow they got there.
If you had asked any of them twenty years before they came to power or even ten, five or just one or two years before then, most of them will tell you that they had no idea that they would end up being there.
So there is a deeply spiritual and mysterious element to these events. Even after the military boys stayed in power from 1966 till the end of Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure as military Head of State in 1979 and after Shehu Shagari was toppled by Mohammadu Buhari and the military stayed in power again till 1994, where did the next civilian Head of State Ernest Shonekan come from? That man had no idea that he would ever be Head of State. They just called him in and told him. After a while he was toppled as well and then came Sani Abacha who died and was succeeded by Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The finger of God was in all these events but what happened after Abdulsalami Abubakar’s tenure was the strangest and most significant of all. Out of the blues, Olusegun Obasanjo, a man that had been jailed by Abacha, was brought out of prison and he became the President of Nigeria for the second time in his life. He went directly from the prison to the palace. That is the power of God. Olusegun Obasanjo came back to power in 1999 which was exactly ten years after he handed power over to Shehu Shagari, in 1979.
There is a lot of significance in numbers. Obasanjo came back to power after 20 years; suffering the most brutal and vicious form of persecution being jailed for three years. He is not the only one. The Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, also suffered political persecution and was sent to jail for three years as well before he became the Premier of the Northern Region and the greatest leader the north ever had. It did not stop there. A number of years later Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of the Western Region, suffered persecution too and was also sent to prison. Just like Obasanjo and Bello he was in prison for three years as well, immediately after that he was elected Leader of the Yorubas and became the de facto Prime Minister of the country during the civil war.
Is this not truly remarkable? What is the significance of the number three? Why were they all there for three years exactly? It is not just a coincidence. All these things have a spiritual aspect and a deep and mysterious dimension. They were not contrived or planned by man but rather by God. What happened to all these people had already been written before the oracles of time. Every single thing that happened to them, whether good or bad, just had to happen because God had willed it long before they were even conceived.
Even the man that came in after Obasanjo, Umaru Yar Adua, had no idea that he would ever be President and neither did he ever plan, fight for or prepare himself to be one. I was there when he was chosen by former President Obasanjo. I was privy to the whole thing. It was completely out of the blues and it took us all by surprise. Only Obasanjo himself could understand that choice.
I took Yaradua to see Ghaddafi after Obasanjo told him that he would be President. The three of us sat together and we had a long conversation; the two of them are dead now. I will never forget that conversation, what transpired and what each of us said. It was very revealing and I shared it with a number of people after it took place.
The truth is that for a man like Umaru to ever become President of a great country like Nigeria is just extraordinary. He had no business being President and it could never have happened unless God caused it to be so, either for good or for bad.
I think he was a terrible President but we cannot question God. God put him there for a period of time and when the time came God decided to take him away from us forever. All power, including the power of life and death, is in God’s hands and in His hands alone.
And after God took Yar’adua away then came in the one that we have there now. The one by the name of Goodluck Jonathan who, again, could only possibly have gotten there by the power of God.
He had no idea that he would ever get there. If you look at his life you will discover that that man never aspired for anything. There would be a number one before him and he would always be a number two that was just chosen out of the blues as a spare tyre. Yet in his case something terrible would always happen to the number one and he would end up taking their positions. This again is a deep mystery. It is the power of God being made manifest, whether for good or for bad.
The truth is that God orchestrates everything that happens in the destiny of men and nations. He alone knows tomorrow and He alone knows who and what He will use to achieve His purpose. That is why it is very important not to write anybody off no matter what he or she is going through. No matter what he or she is suffering today don’t write them off or mock them because only God knows their tomorrow. And no matter how big, how wealthy, how awesome, how connected, how brilliant and how powerful a man or woman is today, never assume that he or she will be there forever. It is all just a matter of time. Nothing lasts forever.
Wale: What phase in God’s plan do you think Nigeria is going through right now?
FFK: Nigerians don’t like to hear the truth and sometimes when we speak these truths, people get very upset. It’s still important to say the truth so it’s on record that at least it was spoken.
God never does anything without showing his prophets first, without allowing a few people to tap into His Spirit. He tells them ‘‘I will do this” or ”I will do that’’. It is usually because of the prayers of the watchers, the intercessors, the believers and the saints; I mean those that intercede for the nation, that God holds back His hand of judgment for some time. But it gets to a point that the cup of that nation or people eventually becomes full and then something awful happens.
In the case of Nigeria it is imminent. We are almost there. Something awful will happen soon in this country because our cup as a people is almost full. What our leaders are doing today and have been doing in the last four years is provoking God and He is about to do a new thing.
There will be change in Nigeria whether anybody likes it or not. It will be a brutal change. It is a change that will come as a consequence of the wickedness and the level of barbarity that so many of our people have resorted to today. There is so much wickedness, insensitivity, corruption and evil in the land. There is so much injustice and so much persecution.
You persecute the innocent, you torment them, you misrepresent them, you jail them, you kill them simply because you feel that they are threatening you. You reward the corrupt, you pardon and free the guilty and you consider the possibility of granting amnesty to those that have shed innocent blood and that delight in slaughtering the children of the Most High God.
Do you think that God does not see all this? Do you think that He is asleep? He that created the eye, can He not see? He that created the ear, can He not hear? Do you think that God is mocked by your evil? You just don’t know Him and you have taken Him for granted. He has hardened your heart unto destruction just as He did to Pharaoh before He destroyed him. And destroy you He will. You persecute the poor, you crush their spirits, you shatter their dreams, you destroy their future and you leave them with no hope and you believe that you will go scot free? Not unless there is no God. Judgment is coming.
80% of our graduates don’t have jobs in this country today. It has never been that bad.
You look at the economy; I don’t want to go into facts and figures here because there is no need to do so. It is self-evident. Go and look at the facts and figures today and compare them to what we had 4 years ago when we left office in 2007. It is very depressing. I mean we have suffered degeneration and lack of growth in virtually every sector of the economy.
The facts and figures are too painful to reel out and because a few of us have courageously spoken out and said it over and over again over the last few months and years but no-one, least of all our President and our Government is listening or seems to care. Instead of doing anything about it or answering the pertinent questions that have been put to them about the economy, the way they are running the country and all the oil proceeds and foreign reserves that they have squandered over the last few years they disdainfully sit in the Villa and call us ”yesterday’s men”.
They forget that ”today’s men” will also be yesterday’s men one day and that ”yesterday’s men” may well end up being ”tomorrow’s men”. This has happened many times before in our history and in the history of the world so no-one should think that he or she will be in power forever and no-one should try playing God.
Whether we like to hear it or not the truth is that if we continue like this Nigeria will be worse off than the Republic of Zaire in a few years’ time and that would be a tragedy of monumental proportions. Things are that bad in our country.
Where there has been no retrogression or degeneration in the economy and in the various sectors we have instead suffered nothing but stagnancy. In terms of the economy we are either going backwards or we are quick-marching on the same spot.
Then you look at the security situation in the country. You look at all the innocent blood that is being shed in the land. You have a government that can’t even control a situation where you have an open armed rebellion being waged by a brutal, primitive and relentless terrorist organisation who is executing a barbarous Islamist insurgency in the northern part of the country. We are at civil war in this country today yet we are all in denial of this hard and painful fact and we are pretending that all is well and that it will just somehow fizzle away.
We have a government that will not fight the insurgency to its fullest extent but that is far more comfortable to talk to them, to beg them and to consider offering amnesty to them even where they remain faceless and where they never asked for any amnesty or handouts in the first place.
You are considering the possibility of offering amnesty to people that have killed 4,200 of your own people in cold blood over the last two years. Pray tell me where is the justice and decency in that? What will you tell the families of those that have been slaughtered? Gosh! What a government we have.
A few months back, the President was saying that Boko Haram were his siblings. I remember it well and I even wrote an article about it at the time. He said that they were his siblings that he wouldn’t fight them, that he wouldn’t kill them and then just a few months later he went to Borno state started saying he would fight them. Yet today he has changed his tune and changed his mind yet again. He has now told us that he is now considering the possibility of granting them amnesty.
Why all these conflicting signals? Why is he blowing hot and cold? If he wants to fight Boko Haram and Ansaru then he should fight them. And if he wants to get into bed with them, forgive them, empower them and hand over the whole of northern Nigeria to them to become a Taliban Republic in return for peace then he should try and do so.
Most of us are appalled and utterly disgusted about how Jonathan finds it so easy to accommodate and to stretch out his hand of friendship to a bunch of utterly ruthless and blood-thirsty maniacs who have massacred thousands of his own people and our compatriots in cold blood over the last two years. You look at all that blood they are shedding. Four thousand two hundred people in the space of two years! That is the highest number of civilian casualties inflicted by any insurgent or terrorist group on Nigerian soil during peace-time since our country was established in 1914. That is a statistical fact and it is getting worse by the day.
The only time that it was worse than this was during our civil war.
What people like Jonathan and those that speak up in support of amnesty for Boko Haram don’t appreciate or realise is that history has shown and proved that the display of weakness and the adoption of a policy of appeasement by any government when faced with insurgency, aggression, armed conflict, rebellion or terror only attracts more aggression from the aggressors. Hitler proved that before the Second World War and that is why western governments never enter into dialogue with terrorists and aggressors and they never seek to accommodate any group that raises arms against the state or that kill their people.
In Nigeria we are yet to learn those lessons because most of our leaders know no history and have no sense of it. They are not even capable of seeing or understanding its relevance.
The other day in Kano, Boko Haram targeted primarily Igbos, Christians and southerners at a motor park which was filled with mainly southerners and Christians that were preparing to go home. Those innocent souls had already boarded the buses and the terrorists and suicide bombers calmly went there and bombed them. What was the response of our government and of Nigerians? As usual there was outrage for one or two days and then after that, the whole matter was forgotten and everybody has kept quiet. I guess that is the Nigerian way.
We sweep our problems under the carpet, we pretend that they don’t exist, we bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich and we live in complete denial about our precarious and dangerous situation. As a matter of fact we go further by labelling anyone that points out these problems and that calls for an urgent and decisive solution to them as an alarmist and an enemy of state. This is just not normal and clearly there is something wrong with us as a people and there is something wrong with our government. It is almost as if we are all under a spell and our behaviour is clearly sociopathic and pathological. We just don’t care about the monumental loss of life and like our President most of us just ”don’t give a damn”.
What is very obvious to the discerning is that Nigeria has become nothing but a blood-soaked abattoir under President Goodluck Jonathan. There is nothing but blood in the land.
You see, my greatest problem with this government and my greatest criticism of them is not the fact that they have completely run down the economy or that they are incompetent, unfit to rule, unjust, clueless, corrupt, wicked and evil. It is not the fact that they are insensitive to people and persecute their perceived enemies and detractors nor is it just that anybody that criticises them they seek to hurt, wound, humiliate, persecute, shame or lock up with the SSS or EFCC.
This government’s abysmal record, attitude and performance worries me but not as much as all the innocent blood being shed under this man’s watch – a situation whereby so much blood is being shed a Government is not even in a position to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. That is utterly shameful and it is the greatest crime of all. That is the greatest sin of all and it is for that reason, because of all that innocent blood that is being shed under their watch that God is going to judge them. His mighty axe and sword of judgment will fall on them very soon. Wait and see.
They must bear full responsibility for every drop of blood that is being shed, that has been shed and that will be shed because they swore an oath before God to protect the people of Nigeria. Whatever it takes for them to have stopped Boko Haram in their tracks, they were meant to have done.
You cannot have a leader that is scared of going to war. The minute you have that you are in trouble because his weakness encourages insurgency, it encourages rebellion, it encourages violence and it encourages evil. They look at him and say to themselves, ”this man doesn’t have the guts to fight so let us do our worse and kill his people right under his nose”. That is what our country has been reduced to by Jonathan. We need a strong leader that is prepared to go to full scale civil war if necessary in order to protect the unity, secularity, integrity and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As long as we don’t have a leader like that all the bloodshed will continue. That is my fear and that is my greatest criticism of this government.
Wale: What are your views on Boko Haram?
FFK: On the issue of Boko Haram itself you can tell that these are just agents of the devil. Most of our people are reluctant to criticise them publicly because they are scared. This is particularly so with most of our leaders. Most of them are cowards.
I don’t fall into that category because I believe that my life is in the hands of God and not in theirs. Nothing can happen to me as long as God does not will it so, I will always speak the truth and speak my mind when it comes to such matters.
I live in the northern part of Nigeria. It is my home. I have lived in the north for ten years now and I am telling you that Boko Haram is the most evil force that this country has ever known. I am also telling you that the only way you can deal with it is NOT through amnesty, like some of my friends and colleagues have been saying, but rather by seeing it as a simple law and order issue and by taking the battle to their gates and eliminating every single one of them and their sponsors and closest supporters. This has been my view from day one when this crisis started and it remains my view.
It took the great Kamel Ataturk of Turkey the resolve and the will to slaughter almost one million Islamists, not Muslims but Islamists, to bring law, order and sanity back to his country when it was faced with an armed challenge from those who wanted to turn it into an Islamic fundamentalist state.
In other words he slaughtered almost one million Islamic fundamentalists during the conflict and he could do this easily because he did not see them as true Muslims. He was a Muslim himself yet he slaughtered over one million islamic fundamentalists in his country in order to make Turkey a secular state which was bound by the norms of decency, humanity and justice.
Ataturk saved Turkey from falling into the hands of religious extremists and he created a modern, functional, democratic and successful Muslim state when many in the western world claimed that it was impossible to do so. His legacy in Turkey endures till today and it ought to be a shining example of what is possible in a country that is almost 90 per cent Muslim to the rest of the world and to Muslims particularly.
Ataturk proved to the world that you can have a Muslim country that is secular, that is well run, that is decent, that is disciplined, that is militarily and economically strong and that has laws that are humane and civilised. He proved that you can have a Muslim country where human life has meaning, where women are treated as equals and where archaic religious laws have no place.
Turkey is the great nation that she is today because of what he did. He refused to allow Turkey to go the Taliban or the Al Qaeda way. He refused to allow her to go the Iranian way. He resisted the idea of those that believed that the rights and safety of non- Muslims should not be protected and guaranteed, that sharia law must be fully applied, that women had no rights and ought to be treated like chattel, that Taliban-like governments had a place in the world and that other faiths ought to be banned. This is of course the sort of thing that Boko Haram wants for Nigeria. It came to a point in Turkey where there was insurgency and rebellion and Ataturk resisted them forcefully and literally killed every single one of them. Without that strong resolve and strong action, Turkey would not be what she is today.
We need to recognise what we are up against in Nigeria when it comes to Boko Haram. It is not just their foot soldiers that are dangerous and evil but their very ideology and world view. Their intention is to use the force of arms and terror to islamise as much of the world as possible and to wipe out and ban Christianity, moderate Islam and every other faith on the earth.
It is for the moderate Muslims themselves to rise up more than anybody else against this evil because Boko Haram is misrepresenting their faith before the world and giving the impression that Islam is a bloodthirsty religion. This is sad and unfortunate because we know that Islam is far from that and that it is indeed a great and humane religion and one of the three great Abrahamic faiths. Yet the Boko Haram carnage continues and it hurts me so much when I hear some of my friends and colleagues say that there should be amnesty for Boko Haram. It hurts me when I hear some of the elders of the land saying there should be amnesty for Boko Haram. It hurts me when I hear the government saying that they are considering the possibility of granting Boko Haram amnesty. All these sentiments are very painful to the ear and to the soul. I think those that have those views are completely wrong and ill-informed and what they are suggesting, if it is ever implemented by Government, will be counterproductive and extremely dangerous.
You don’t give amnesty to people that haven’t asked for it themselves. Worse still they haven’t laid down their arms, they haven’t shown any form of repentance or remorse, they have not renounced their Islamist agenda for northern Nigeria, they are still killing your people and they are still linked to Al Qaeda and the forces of global jihad. So on what basis are you talking about amnesty for such people? Amnesty doesn’t arise until they have given a commitment to stop the violence, given up their arms, stopped waging war against the state and stopped killing your people. It is after all that they can then ask for it. That is when it may be granted. It should not be so until then.
In the case of the Niger Delta militants, they committed to a peace process in principle and dropped their arms first and the whole thing was brokered and negotiated by their elders and their leaders including, in fairness to him, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as he then was. Not many people know that but it is the truth.
Jonathan and all the other key leaders of the Niger Delta including Chief E.K.Clark, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and many others actually went to the creeks to talk to those boys. How many northern leaders have done the same and have gone to meet Boko Haram? Instead they will tell you they don’t know who they are. So the question is this – why are you asking for amnesty for people whom you don’t know? Why are you pleading and standing in for people whose identity and intentions you are not sure of and you cannot guarantee? It is a dangerous course and if it is ever accepted by the Government it will backfire badly and prove to be counterproductive. It will not bring an end to the terrorism and insurgency but instead it will strengthen and legitimise it.
To the issue of where Nigeria is heading to. I will say this much today. If the government does not do its job, if Boko Haram continues killing, if Boko Haram strikes in the South, particularly the South West, that will be the end of Nigeria.
The only way that will stop is if God raises a leader, what we call a biblical Jehu (and incidentally we keep picking it up spiritually), who will rise up and just effect a terrible cleansing in this country that will affect so many people in the positions of leadership.
He will wipe so many people away, the land will be filled with blood and then Nigeria will start all over again with a strong leader that can hold us together and make us what God wants us to be.
I am not saying that I want this to happen, that I am planning for it to happen or that I want anyone dead. I am only telling you what I believe may happen and what the Spirit of God is leading me to say. I am speaking prophetically. It is not that I know about anything that is being planned anywhere. I am speaking prophetically now and by the Spirit of God and I am saying to you if this government does not get a grip of the situation, pull up its socks, begin to protect the lives and properties of the citizens, begin to fight Boko Haram as they are meant to fight them, begin to do a better job and if the president doesn’t show virility and strength, then he is endangering his own government, he is endangering his own people, he is endangering the stability and the future of our country and God will not sit by idly.
If he does not rise up to the occasion and the challenge of nation-building, if he continues to show weakness and indecision, if he continues to make one blunder after the other as he has been doing in the last two years, something will give and there will be a change in this country whether anybody likes it or not.
I shall continue to pray for him and for Nigeria because I wish both him and our country well but I shall also continue to speak the truth no matter how bitter that truth may be.
Read the rest of FFK’s interview at: http://www.mytestimonys.blogspot.com
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