Political office holders are expected to recognise the importance of the watchdog role that journalists play in the society. They are expected to see journalists, not as a threat but as partners in progress. Unfortunately, this is not the case as the media and the government always seem to be at loggerheads with each other, especially when accountability is the case in point.
Many journalists have been harassed by government officials while carrying out their duties – some cases have gone unnoticed. The recent outburst of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode towards a journalist during a press conference in Calabar has been a hot topic of discussion this week. But, the former Aviation Minister has apologised to the journalist.
I met with my advisors & I wish to say the following. I hereby withdraw the word "stupid" which I used in my encounter with a journalist in Calabar. I have many friends in the media who I offended by losing my cool & using such words. I hereby express my regrets for doing so.1/4— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) August 26, 2020
He wrote, “I met with my advisors & I wish to say the following. I hereby withdraw the word “stupid” which I used in my encounter with a journalist in Calabar. I have many friends in the media who I offended by losing my cool & using such words. I hereby express my regrets for doing so.
“I would never seek to physically harm a journalist. For the last 30 years I have defended & worked with journalists & fought for the right of freedom of expression. I am also very close to many in that profession. I would be the last to seek to disparage those that are.”
His apology is coming after the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) released a statement condemning his actions.
The statement reads, “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.
“His reaction was totally unacceptable, dishonourable and we demand retraction of his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility.
“We are more shocked that the same 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.”
The management of Daily Trust also condemned his actions and he has received heavy backlash from Nigerians who expressed their disappointment, saying under no circumstance should a journalist be treated in such manner.
Some Nigerians have hailed him for taking responsibility for his actions by apologising to the journalist but others have a different opinion as they believe his apology is a media stunt, carefully planned to save his image in the eyes of the public.
See how Nigerians are reacting: