Posted in Prose

Femi Fani-Kayode as the servant of truth


Noel A. Ihebuzor

I read Femi Fani-Kayode’s article and I am responding to the claims in the excerpts below. (I prefer to leave responses to other sections in his very revealing write up to persons with about the same skill sets and mindsets as he has).

The igbo had little to do with the extraordinary development of Lagos between 1880 right up until today. That is a fact. Other than Ajegunle, Computer Town, Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko where is their input”?

“for Chinua Achebe records in his book, and we can roughly confirm that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the civil war”.

The excerpts are amazing and reveal a lot. One thing they reveal for sure is how much economics and history Mr Femi Fani Kayode actually knows. For one thing, he appears to ignore the fact that contributions to economic development can take several forms – hard and soft. Some soft contributions, in the form ideas and the projection of certain work ethics can and do catalyze development even more than the building of infrastructure. Secondly he does not recognize the facts of multiplier effects. Thirdly the claim that there were not more than a few thousand Igbos in Lagos before the war would be more meaningful if the reader was informed of the population of Lagos and the distribution according to ethnic groups during the same period. Were the other ethnic units in their millions in a geographical space where the total population was in its thousands? (The total population of Lagos was 272, 200 in 1952 and 665,000 in 1963 according to the Federal Office of Statistics). Fourthly, concerning the ethnic supremacist claim that one ethnic group’s efforts were largely responsible for what Lagos is today, were the industries in Lagos established in the industrial estates in Apapa, Mushin and Ikeja the work of one ethnic group alone? What of the Federal Government infrastructure that helped facilitate growth and development in Lagos – The Port, the Airport and the Railway – were these the work of one ethnic group alone? Fifthly and coming to the present, there are quite a number of institutions with Headquarters in Lagos which are either fully owned by persons from the South East or which have strong South East ownership. These include quite a number of successful high street banks and financial institutions. One can easily list a number of insurance, oil marketing and several South East owned SMEs companies operating in Lagos and making invaluable contributions to the development of Lagos State. These institutions pay taxes, provide employment and their presence creates secondary employment and a number of other ripple effects with net positive development impacts on Lagos State. Mr Femi Fani Kayode either failed to take such contributions into consideration when making his dismissive and sweeping statement or he was simply not aware of them.

I could go on and on citing such non-indigent contributions to the development of their host states inspired by the need to present commentators on public issues with information which could help them to push back the frontiers of bias and inaccuracies. Inaccuracies (half-truths and untruths) and bias in articles arise from a number of sources – one of these is the tendency to want to rush to be the first to publish, a tendency which causes quite a number of persons to leap before they look and to talk before they think. Sometimes too, they result from the fact, that over time,  some people have become impervious to facts and truths and become resistant to the time tested methods of searching for them. There might not be any malice in such people. Such people deserve prayers and compassion, not condemnation.

Incidentally, Mr. Femi Fani Kayode is always at pains to inform his readers and listeners that he is a historian. He tells us so in this article as he also did in his comments on late Chinua’s Achebe’s TWAC.  I am sure he also aspires to be a good historian. Good historians are “slaves”, not just servants, of truth and facts. Good historians are never servants or slaves to emotions. True, there is a role for emotions in life, but in contributions to discussions on important and sensitive matters of national importance, emotions should always be reined in and disciplined by facts and truths. To do otherwise would be to court folly.




Development and policy analyst with a strong interest in the arts and inclusive social change. Dabbles occasionally into poetry and literary criticism!

9 thoughts on “Femi Fani-Kayode as the servant of truth

  1. When people who claim education speak the way Fani Kayode and a few of his like speak you wonder whether they really understand what nation building is really. Can you imagine what would befall people or ethnic groups FK does not like if he had a grip over the affairs of the nation? It is appalling that in the 21st century people are “deporting” and “evacuating” citizens in their own country. Does it not remind you of the gulag in Russia in the heady days of Soviet Union or the current scheme of things in North Korea. Apart from its unconstitutionality, it lacks moral. It is not different from the Nazi doctrine that sought to kill off the handicapped and deformed who were considered not worthy of the Aryan race. If my brother of the same father and mother does it I would hold him responsible and he must reverse it before I can call him brother again. Why should I do so? Because one day when there are no outsiders to deport and evacuate, he might start evacuating us his relations whom he feels are a burden to him and his designs. In order words one day a final solution might be sought for Lagos indigenes (destitutes, homeless and mentally ill) who constitute a problem to making Lagos the Dubai of their dreams.


  2. I wish to make hopefully a brief comment on your response to Mr Fani-Kayode.
    I like the way you informed/ educated your readers with facts including statistical numbers to prove your point.I hope going forward Mr Fani-Kayode will learn.
    I like the way you restrained yourself from being unduely emotional by avoiding generalisation especially from an isolated instance.Again I hope Mr Fani-Kayode will learn.
    The manner Mr Fani-Kayode jumps hastily into the fray to comment on public issues would suggest he still wants to remain relevant in the public view after transforming to an ex-minister. Nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong when such comments repeatedly display more emotion than reason.Take for instance his assertion : “other than Ajegunle, Computer Town , Alaba and buying up numerous market stalls in Isale Eko, where is their input” Really? Well even if the qustion is a rhetorical one, I shall attempt an answer.So Mr Fani- kayode did you forget that their input is in Ikeja, Isolo,Oshodi,Surulere VI, Ikoyi ,Lekki, Bannana Island etc For market stalls did you forget Ladipo, Mushin,Oshodi, Surulere etc.You see. Mr Fani-Kayode should begin to wean himself of this youthful-rascality responses he continues to make on public issues.We hope his future comments does not remind us of Abraham Lincoln’s advise that “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and remove all doubt”


  3. Well written. I appreciate the fact that I ran into this article.

    You see,history and facts are like pregnancy. It can only be concealed for a season.

    In a different forum I had said that those who speak for us (youths) just because they can should bear in mind that we can now read and decipher in-between-the-lines motives.

    It is first an unusual folly for anybody to make sweeping generalizations about any ethnic group. Now when it comes from a supposedly educated source it becomes a concern.

    The likes of FFK have refused to grow with us as a nation and keep pulling us in diametrically opposite directions as we forge into nation building but thankfully they are not only in the minority but are fast losing relevance.

    We only pray for such brothers.


  4. Noel we need not say more after reading your reply. You really told Fanikayode in not too many words to learn simple economics of development. Without the taxes and internal revenues generated through the markets in Isale Eko etc where will His Lagos be. The Igbo man should ignore the little “yelping dog” and continue his business of creating opportunities for the Children of this countryv Nigeria. In the words of late Zik of Africa: ” A big round moon does not pay any attention to a little yelping dog it goes on with its business of shining”


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