*Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was asked a similar question in Akwa Ibom State, and he never attacked anyone
Nigerians had their sensitivities rightly offended recently after watching a viral video featuring a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani- Kayode. In it, a raging Fani- Kayode poured vituperation on a reporter just for doing his job at a press conference that was called by Fani- Kayode in the first instance.
The press has made people aware that Fani- Kayode is currently on a tour of the South- South states on project inspection; but it is not known whether he went on an individual initiative or on a sponsored tour.
This curious trip, embarked upon by one who has long left government; one not saddled with project inspection, took Fani-Kayode recently to Calabar, Cross River State. At the end of his inspection there, Fani- Kayode called a press conference where journalists in attendance asked questions in order to give full media coverage of the event.
For sure, in this post lockdown era, nobody in his right senses embarks on frivolous trips, or travels purely on a whim. Fani-Kayode reportedly began his project inspection tour as early as July, 2020.
The reporter in question, a correspondent with The Daily Trust asked a pertinent question which sought to find out at whose behest the project inspection of the Southern states was taking place. The question Fani- Kayode was asked was not rude, rather it was relevant, timely and intelligent. Many would want to know in what capacity Fani-Kayode; out of government for 2 administrations now, was undertaking his regional project inspection tour. Was he going as a private citizen? Was he on the invitation of the South-South Governors? Or was it at the instance of an NGO? The answer to the one question posed would have covered all these.
And if that had been the first disclosure of the former Minister while briefing the press, that question would not have been asked. The crass behaviour of the former Minister was indicative of his utter lack of preparedness for the press conference that he himself called.
The international figure, icon and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka was likewise on the hot seat once during a visit to Akwa Ibom some years back. Wole Soyinka stated unequivocally that he was in Akwa Ibom on the invitation of the then State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, and that he would be undertaking inspection of on- going projects in that state. It was very simple.
Fani- Kayode is in no wise the equal of the distinguished, and accomplished Professor, Wole Soyinka.
Yet, in answer to a similar question, Fani-Kayode responded in a most uncouth manner. After pouring invectives on the reporter, Fani-Kayode even publicly threatened to assault him! It is a good job the reporter has not sued him. The Daily Trust is not taking chances. Nasiru Abubakar, Managing Editor says, “We urge the Nigeria Police to take note that if anything happens to Charles, Daily Trust will hold Femi Fani-Kayode responsible”.
Let me quote The Nation columnist Lekan Otufodunrin here, “The essence of holding a press conference is to brief journalists on an issue, after which questions can be asked and clarifications sought”.
By his untoward actions, Fani- Kayode insulted not only the Daily Trust reporter; but denigrated every journalist. When called upon to be civil and apologise, Fani- Kayode also refused, until condemnation for his action poured in, before he budged.
It is good to know now that the irascible Fani-Kayode met his own match at his next port of call; Akwa Ibom State. Inasmuch as there is freedom of movement and it is his right to go anywhere he pleases, the former Minister must be made to realise that in the unsavoury circumstances he has created, then a boycott of his proposed press conference was absolutely in order. Fani-Kayode needs to know that he must respect other professionals- just the same way he is respected as a lawyer- and is expected to be noble in his dealings, in line with the sobriquet Noble Profession. I also use this medium to commend the management of Daily Trust for standing by their reporter. This is even after the man was harangued by security operatives, and the management of Daily Trust contacted by the former Minister; demanding the reporter’s sack. The reporter/ correspondent Charles Eyo is also highly commended for being civil and not returning insult with insult.
I sincerely commend Mr Amos Etuk, Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Council of the NUJ for rising to the occasion and enforcing the ethics of the profession. His swift call for a media blackout of Fani-Kayode’s Akwa Ibom trip is spot on.
Ironically Femi Fani-Kayode ‘s relevance is largely media driven, having been out of government for two terms now. This trip in question would even have been undertaken without the knowledge of anyone other than those of his household, but for the media. Fani-Kayode is now raining invectives on media men, and his expectation is that he is above reproof. In Cross River State, the state chapter of the NUJ led by Victor Udu has barred Fani-Kayode from all media activities in that State.
In Akwa Ibom State, all journalists were mandated not to attend any media parley with Fani-Kayode, or report any of his activities in any location around the state.
I commend the NUJ Chairman of Akwa Ibom for reading the former Minister the riot act. By being proactive, Amos Etuk not only demonstrated exemplary leadership but he has also upheld professional standards. The decisive action of Amos Etuk and his entire executive council will serve as a lesson to the former Minister, and even to others of like mind that one must be civil in all engagement, and especially with the media.
Once again, kudos to Amos Etuk and the entire NUJ Akwa Ibom State Council.