By Hussein Adegoke
On a lighter note, the good part of that gist is that I just learned a new word: “bankroll.”
I think to a great extent, it serves the Nigeria ex-minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, FFK, rightly that he is getting the jabs that trail the encounter he had with a journalist in Calabar, Cross River State, recently. He was on a week-long tour to the State when the ugly fracas had broken out. When the pressman asked at a media briefing about who bankrolls the former minister for his expeditions, the latter flared up, claiming he was “insulted.” He tongue-lashed the journalist severally and was adamant on reproaching his action. One, you don’t relegate a man, and even so, a veteran in his career, down to nothing, as if he’s a piece of thrash. If you had scores to settle with him, it’s neither ethical nor wise that you use your status or the temporal privilege you enjoy to lampoon his person. Having a “short fuse” or not confers no right upon one to bitterly trample on another man’s honour, especially if the latter do not “measure up” in aggrandizement. That way, your tirade would seem more of an “oppression” than your will for expression. You are not Trump, are you, and I cannot even recall any moment when that unconventional POTUS had leveraged on his portfolio to call a journalist “stupid”, twice!
Now, to address the main subject and leave out the major players, what would “bankroll” do to stir up any man’s ego? If you were an ex-minister and a lawyer, the fact remains that you are no longer in office and so, would pass more for a private citizen whose luxuries are not formerly required to travel the states you do. Even if you are wealthy, you were featuring in the klieg lights of a public forum and would hence be subjected to their scrutiny and opinions. Why then would it be out of place if anyone raises the poser on how you got funded for your assignment. Dangote—as popularly known with his stupendous wealth as he is—could even have been asked the same question and he would field it discernibly. And after all, was it not you who invited the press? Apparently, you do not expect anyone to come on board and ask about what your supper was the night before. In fact, the gentleman who raised that poser, Eyo Charles, as we learnt was his name, had stayed on course. Think it, if Fani-Kayode had not expected that poser—how he gets funded for hid tour since he is no longer in the public service—what less was he expecting? Was he holding up a press conference in order to attend queries about the unfounded claims he makes with his Twitter handle?
Hold! The tantrums he now gets are what he had bargained for. Fani has come too far in soiling people’s reputation in the past and offering cheap talks right on that mini platform that grants audience to all sorts of people (speak about the alternative history of the Yorubas he brandished and lots more). True, we have him to thank for offering a great opposition to the reigning government (it appears only him had survived whatever tension that gagged the mouths of his other talksome counterpart from Ekiti, the former governor of the state, “Peter, the Rock!”). Putting all these together, one Yoruba aphorism is instructive to the dousing Twitter rampage on the statesman: “ni tó ń d ihò èkúté kò m̀ wípé ba okè ń d ti ̀ náà ĺyìn.” Let the man who casts aspersions against evil be of a genuine moral competence. I can only imagine what manner of approach FFK, who only needed to lord over a mini conference to brand insults, would give to fellow congressmen on assuming a position “larger than life.”
I am aware the ex-minister has apologized and it was just in his best interest he did so. But to forestall future scornful gestures from our public office holders—the serving ones or ex—we should not stifle this conversation at that. Some people say some men have personality disorder, well, I have no medical license to confirm that. But what I know is that there are factors that mediate in the interpretations we give to subject matters or people’s remarks: our kinds of person, our levels of exposure, and things we have trained our minds to believe. One who is not morally bankrupt is unlikely going to see “bankroll” as “illegitimate sponsorships clandestined purposes” even from a contextualized view, how much more becoming furious at this contrived meaning. And if FFK would be riled by the “audacity” of one who had talked down his wealthy status, then, he is grossly not a humble person. In any case, he stands low for his actions under every close scrutiny.
Hussein Adegoke is a Public Affairs Analyst.