Early signs strongly indicate that Femi Fani-Kayode alias FFK's integration into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which he defected to just last week, is not going to be a smooth ride after all. Feelers emanating from the party show that he has many hurdles to cross to gain the full confidence and acceptance of many APC members.
This is understandably so because the former Minister of Aviation and erstwhile chieftain of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was until a few weeks ago a thorn in the flesh of the APC with his acerbic criticisms of the party and President Buhari.
FFK was such a pain in the APC's neck that when initial rumors went around that he was contemplating a switch to the party, the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh Lukman, vowed that the party would not accept him into its fold.
Well, as I type this, it is no longer news that FFK is a member of the APC!
But the surprise in the whole affair is not that the maverick politician joined the ruling party. He has a long history of jumping parties indiscriminately, so this latest one did not surprise most Nigerians. The surprise was, however, in the VIP treatment that the party, including the President, gave him to welcome him into its fold.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been a major target of FFK’s damaging criticisms and allegations, personally received the eccentric politician in Aso Rock Presidential Villa on Thursday, September 16, 2021.
The dust generated by that presidential reception accorded to FFK is yet to settle. It is indeed the origin of the rumpus and disaffection currently happening in the ruling party.
Many staunch and loyal party members have registered their displeasure at how the party welcomed the former minister. Chief among those who have publicly criticized the party for that reception is the former Publicity Secretary of the party in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe.Igbokwe, who is currently the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Drainage and Water Resources, in a series of Facebook posts, called out the party for not recognizing and rewarding the efforts and sacrifices of its loyal foot soldiers but rather choosing to give a red carpet treatment to FFK, who he termed an enemy.
A former Minister of Sports in President Buhari's first tenure in office, Solomon Dalung, has also voiced his displeasure with FFK's reception. So has a political adviser to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojodu, who in addition to criticizing the reception, said that September 16, 2021, was the saddest day in his political life.
But in case one would want to dismiss the opinions of these individuals as the rantings of a few disgruntled elements, an important group within the APC has now come out to lend its voice to the complaints and resistance against FFK's defection to the party.
The PGF through its Director-General, Lukman, has listed 12 conditions that Fani-Kayode must meet before he is fully accepted as a member of the party. These conditions summarize that FFK must regulate his utterances and actions strictly by the rules and regulations of the party; be accountable to the party and Nigerians; and respect party leaders and the constitution as well. The PGF also insists that FFK must show commitment to a united Nigeria and avoid promoting divisive campaigns.
He must also present video evidence of himself reconciling with Chief Bisi Akande, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor Gboyega Oyetola, and other party leaders in Osun, his home state.
He must also register in the party from his ward.
How the PGF intends to assess and measure if the maverick politician has met these conditions is what Nigerians do not understand.
However, one very clear thing is that FFK has a lot of hurdles to cross to gain the trust and acceptance of his new party members.
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