Fani-Kayode calls journalist ‘stupid’ for asking: ‘Who bankrolled your states tour?’

Fani-Kayode with Eyo Charles (standing) and other journalists as the former minister angrily attended to his question on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 in Calabar

Says I have no apology as NUJ berates former minister

A Nigerian journalist came under a heavy verbal assault on Tuesday, after asking a former Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, a question, but who responded, saying “you are very stupid for asking me such question.”

The former minister, who had recently embarked of tour of states, was addressing journalists during a press conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, being the latest state he had visited, was asked by a Daily Trust reporter, Eyo Charles, who “bankrolled” his recent tour of several southern states.

This question, was retorted with a verbal assault by Fani-Kayode, who appeared infuriated by the question as seen in a viral video, consequently dressed down Charles, the Daily Trust reporter, for asking him a “stupid question.”

Fani-Kayode at the press briefing

“I am saying this on live TV. What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any questions from this man. What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything? Who do you think you are talking to? Go and report yourself to your publisher? Please don’t insult me here. I don’t want to take any questions from this man.

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“I could see from your face before you got here, how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you’re talking to? Bankroll who? You think I am one of those ones you… from who, when, how? You have a small mind, a very small mind. Don’t judge me by your own standards.”

The video had since gone viral on the social media, already creating mixed feelings among Nigerians.

While some people berated Fani-Kayode for throwing caution to the winds response, supported his action, saying the question was insulting.

However, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had condemned the former minister over his verbal assault.

The NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, said in a statement, on Tuesday, that the former minister assaulted the journalist and threatened him for daring to ask such a question.

According to Isiguzo, the question posed to Fani-Kayode was appropriate because the former minister had been touring several states without revealing his true intention.

“By denigrating the journalist, Fani-Kayode, has exposed himself the more as an intolerant person who will not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.

“It is instructive to remind the likes of Fani-Kayode that it is the constitutional right of Journalists to monitor and keep a check on people and institutions in power. By delving into politics and holding political office, Fani-Kayode is very conversant with the watchdog role of the media,” Isiguzo said.

It was ironic that Fani-Kayode who was highly critical of the government could take issue with simple questions, the NUJ President said.

“We are more shocked that the same Fani-Kayode who had in recent times, used his social media handles to call leaders to account is at the same time attacking a Journalist for a simple demand for him to unmask those behind his nationwide tour. He had already visited six states. This is indeed, terribly disappointing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fani-Kayode, reacting to outrage that followed his outburst said he had no apology for his conduct.

In contrary, the former minister said, the assaulted journalist had apologised to him, as he also denied allegations that he had threatened the Daily Trust reporter and was after his life.

He however faulted the NUJ for condemning him without reaching out to him for a balanced report.

“During my tour of the South and after a long and successful press conference in Calabar, Cross River state, a journalist put up his hand for the last question and said, ‘well we do not know who is bankrolling you’. This is not a question but an assertion and an insult.

“And if this insulting assertion were made before (Donald) Trump or OBJ (Olusegun Obasanjo) I know how they would have reacted… I have no apology to offer for it. The young man apologised to me during the press conference and sent his apologies to me after the conference. I have accepted his apologies in good faith and moved on.

“I have always had respect for journalists and I always will. Those of them that know me or have worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that. However, there is a distinction between asking a question and offering a gratuitous insult,” Fani-Kayode said.