Ex - Minister Femi Fani - Kayode Faux Pas By Fassy Yusuf - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Ex - Minister Femi Fani - Kayode Faux Pas By Fassy Yusuf

 PENULTIMATE Thursday (August 20, 2020), in Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital, a beneficiary of the press, the loquacious Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister of Aviation and former aide of President Olusegun Obasanjo threw caution, discretion and civility into the Bakassi Peninsula. He assumed the role of a bombastic and cruel teacher to dehumanise and disgrace the Daily Trust Correspondent, Eyo Charles.

 Who is Femi Fani-Kayode? What are the facts of the faux pas? What is the business of FFK monitoring State projects? What is the role of the media in the society or in a democracy? Are there lessons in the faux pas? What should be the consequence(s) of FFK faux pas?

 Femi Fani-Kayodes father was Chief Remi Fani-Kayode (full name: Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode), also known as ‘Fani Power’. Fani Power was a Queens Counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and Commander of the Order of Niger. He was born in Chelsea, London, United Kingdom on December 22, 1921 and died in Brighton, UK in October 1995. He was the irrepressible Deputy Premier of the defunct Western Region from 1963 to January 15, 1966. Those around during his political years would attest that Fani Power was a brilliant lawyer but highly controversial politician who held the political jugular of the region like a wounded lion. He hailed from an aristocratic family in Ile Ife, Osun State and his father was also a lawyer. One of his children is the proud and caustic-tongued David Oluwafemi Adewunmi Abdullateef Fani-Kayode (otherwise known as Femi Fani-Kayode) who was born on October 16, 1960 and who inherited his fathers political disposition.

 As the son of elite, Femi Fani-Kayode had all his education in England before he attended the Nigerian Law School for his legal education. He also studied theology at the Christian Action Faith Bible Seminary in Accra, Ghana and equally had a sojourn in South Africa. He started his political career in 1989 as a member and later as the National Youth Leader of the Nigerian National Congress, and in 1990, he became a Chief Press Secretary to Chief Tom Ikimi, the National Chairman of the National Republican Convention, without any known training in Journalism or Mass Communication. The following year (1991), he was appointed a Special Assistant to Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi. He fled Nigeria during the despotic regime of Sani Abacha but returned to Nigeria in 2001. OBJ appointed him in 2003 as his Special Assistant on Public Affairs and in 2006, he was made the Minister of Culture and Tourism and following a cabinet reshuffle the same year, he was redeployed as Minister of Aviation. One of his controversial acts was the sacking of the FAANs Manager overseeing the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. 

 Not much is known about his legal practice but he is known to have made incursion into media practice as untrained journalist or public relations practitioner working as a press secretary, a public affairs practitioner, etc. However, as a family man, FFK is a serial monogamist and he is currently facing trial in a Federal High Court for matter not unconnected with excess lodgements into his account. He is notorious for having many controversial altercations with successive governments since leaving office and he is reputed for his controversial positions on public issues. The media/press overrated him.

The facts in issue: Recently, FFK assumed the role of an inspector of States projects. Overtly or covertly, he started undertaking oversight functions of projects being executed by Governors in Zamfara, Anambra, Rivers and Cross River States, among others for publicity stunts. On August 20, 2020 having toured many projects embarked upon by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, the self-appointed Inspector of State Projects assembled journalists at a hotel in the State Housing Estate, Calabar, which is allegedly owned by his host. His mission was to inform the world through the press about the Ben Ayade Wonders and extraordinary performance in Cross River State

It was incredulous seeing an adult standing at full attention being lambasted and taught about journalism ethics, interviewing/questioning techniques and decency in an assemblage of print, electronic and other media practitioners by a least qualified person. Watching the video of the unfortunate display of unnecessary rage, anger and aggression, I could see that Eyo, the victim was somehow lucky as he could have received more than what he got, but for the gentlemanly nature of FFK and the pleas by his colleagues who could not stand up to the gifted demagogue. According to Eyo, FFK spent over one hour speaking highly of Gov. Ayade, extolling his academic and political qualities and how his acumen, sagacity, intelligence and versatility have largely been ignored even with a plethora of projects he has initiated . . . . Now the question that would break the camels back! . . . I asked, Sir, please you did not disclose to us who is bankrolling you . . . . That was it. The vituperations and the guttersnipe language started. He was lambasted, lampooned, dehumanised, humiliated, traumatised, threatened and much more! Poor Eyo Charles! He had to beg Lord FFK so that a worse fate would not befall him. 

What is the business of FFK in the inspection of projects embarked upon or being executed by State Governors? Honestly, I cannot decipher. He is to my mind a meddlesome interloper, a busy body, a publicity and relevance seeker. Being a former minister does not and cannot confer on him the Office of Inspector of State Projects. The complicity of his host-governors is another matter and a topic for another day. This current republic has produced more than eighty ministers and one is, therefore baffled that only FFK fitted the role of Inspector of State Projects!

Many of our public officers (past and present), if not all climbed up through the instrumentality of the media and yet, and no sooner, thereafter media practitioners become their whipping boys. Whereas, Section 22 of the Constitution tells us that The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter (Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy) and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.  The ECOWAS Charter, the African Charter and the United Nations Charter, all protect the role of the media in the society. Being the Fourth Estate of the Realm, it has survived numerous First (Executive), Second (Legislature) and Third (Judiciary/Judicature) Estates of the Realm. Its sanctity must, therefore be protected and respected.

We must sound it loud and clear (that) the media is the trust, the guardian, the watchdog, the conscience and indeed, the soul of the society.

With the FFK faux pas, it is now apparent that not all our leaders are familiar with public decency, candour, comportment, humility, shock absorber, human relations, niceties, protocols, etc. They fail to understand that arrogance, guttersnipe, indecency, incivility, temperamental, impertinence and other negative attributes have no place in leadership. If you cannot subject yourself to public scrutiny, one should run away from publicity and public office. It is not for a supposed leader to teach journalist what to and what not to ask during an interview.

Albeit, FFK attempted to apologise, his apology was not good enough. The Nigeria Union of Journalists should bite rather than just barking. Every journalist deserves some modicum of respect and FFK and his ilk must understand this. The least punishment that should be meted out to him, to serve as a deterrent to others, is for the press to black FFK out for six months.

--- Dr. (Chief) Fassy A. YUSUF
    (Bagbimo of Ijebu)


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