Femi Fani-Kayode And The Elephant In The Room

Most of the media’s woes in Nigeria today are self-inflicted but everyone prefers to sidestep the issue, while looking for what’s not missing.

Femi Fani-Kayode / Photo credit: Premium Times
Femi Fani-Kayode / Photo credit: Premium Times

Not too long ago, I went with two gentlemen, one an estate agent and the other an associate, to formally meet the owner of an apartment we were considering using for an office space.

Before this meeting, we had already made all the payments required, including agency and legal fees.

The meeting was just routine, the estate agent had told us. This particular landlord, he said, always liked to have a one-on-one with all his prospective tenants.

So, to Maitama we went to meet the man who happens to be lawyer.
His wife who received us is also a lawyer.

To cut the story, the meeting went south shortly after it began.
The man, who turned out to be a well-known a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, didn’t believe that a ‘mere journalist’ like me should talk back at him when he started saying things that didn’t make any sense.

In fact, with his two hands, one above the other, held wide apart, he demonstrated the wide gap he believed was between a journalist and a SAN in Nigeria.

If not that he sounded and also looked so ridiculous, I would have burst out in laughter.

READ ALSO: The Baring of Fani-Kayode’s Fangs

But there he was trying so desperately to make me understand how rich and prestigious he was, and how a journalist was so far below him in the food chain.

But I didn’t let him get completely away with that grand folly.

In fact, his wife apologised to me after we left his office and told me how terribly embarrassed she was with the way her husband had acted.

Every community rat and roach has now acquired a life licence to disrespect journalists and journalism, especially if they see themselves as rich

In the end, we were refunded our money and I was glad to have escaped having anything at all to do with such a small-minded fellow.
Indeed, the gown and wig cover up all sorts.

However, after leaving him I couldn’t help but wonder how and when journalism and journalists became so disreputable that everyone thinks they can always take a shot at them, and also get away with it.

Every community rat and roach has now acquired a life licence to disrespect journalists and journalism, especially if they see themselves as rich.

Never mind how deeply into the sewers of corruption they had had to descend to acquire the wealth that now literally turn their heads.

I know that there has always been this love-hate relationship between journalists and the rest of the world, depending on which side you are, that is. Sometimes, it’s outright distrust at first sight.

And it isn’t even a Nigerian thing.

About 10 years ago, the American-based PEW Research Centre conducted a poll which showed that only 31 per cent of the people had positive views of the media.

Move forward to today, 10 years later and one can only wonder what it would be like with the widespread use of the social media and the gate keeping – or lack thereof – inherent therein.

READ ALSO: Media Trust, NUJ Condemn Fani-Kayode’s Verbal Assault On Journalist

It may also interest you to know that where the media got a meagre 31 per cent in the PEW poll, the churches and religious organisations got 68 per cent.

And that’s America, where you can count the number of churches in a city on the 10 fingers of your hand. You can then imagine if this poll was conducted in Nigeria with the heavy dependency we have seen so far on our religious leaders.

The Nigerian media would be lucky to get a paltry 10 per cent, with the level mistrust and disdain it receives from different quarters.

It’s even worse that many of us journalists seem to have accepted the disgraceful status quo.

That’s why a Femi Fani-Kayode could display that level of madness at a press conference recently and the journalists present didn’t walk out on him without even giving it a second thought.

Instead, they apologised to him for doing their job. Yes, they apologised for being journalists.

Or did Eyo Charles of Daily Trust do anything else except his job as a journalist when he asked that question?

No, of course not.

From callous media owners who only see their platforms as cash cows and political and social ladders, to unconscionably greedy journalists who shamelessly sacrifice the ethos of the profession on the altar of material acquisition, the hand that inflicted this festering wound is certainly not a stranger’s

He was simply doing a legitimate job empowered by the constitution too.

But because journalism has apparently over the years become Nigeria’s poster child for professional indignity, he was verbally assaulted for doing his job.

Just few days ago, Pastor David Ibiyomie of Salvation Ministries, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, also felt calling Daddy Freeze an “ordinary broadcaster” was an abuse.

In fact, as far as the pastor is concerned being a broadcaster and unemployed in Nigeria are one and the same thing.

But would you blame him?

Most of the media’s woes in Nigeria today are self-inflicted but everyone prefers to sidestep the issue, while looking for what’s not missing.

Unless, we want to continuously hide our head in the sand, then we would all agree that apart from the Nigeria Police Force, no other professional bloc is as disrespected as journalists in the country today.

We know why the average policeman is despised and treated with contempt in this country.

If journalists are now also being tarred with a similar brush, then it’s time to search inwards.

From callous media owners who only see their platforms as cash cows and political and social ladders, to unconscionably greedy journalists who shamelessly sacrifice the ethos of the profession on the altar of material acquisition, the hand that inflicted this festering wound is certainly not a stranger’s.

But the media is such a strategic pillar of the modern society that allowing it to fall into disrepute will do no one any good.

It’s high time we confronted the elephant in the room or the stench from the wound it keeps inflicting will choke us all into oblivion.

Written by Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe is the Editor of The Interview Abuja, has worked as a journalist in Punch Nigeria Nigeria Limited and also LEADERSHIP Newspapers where she rose to become the Editorial Director.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo is the Dean of the School of Information and Communications Studies, University of Ghana / Photo credit: adomonline.com

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