The Scandal in Aviation – Fani-Kayode and Matters Arising

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The columnist’s obligation is oftentimes to lay to rest ghosts of miscreant sentiments often imported to distort public issues by people who also sometimes hyperventilate on non-issues.

I see myself in that role of the columnist in the discharge of this duty to the public in calling the bluff of Jasper Ayodeji, or some fellow by that name, who has described himself as a lawyer for Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode on whose behalf he wrote disparagingly about my person and my column in the Sunday Vanguardtitled, “The Scandal in Aviation.”

To be on record, I am neither a consultant to the Minister of Aviation, nor have I defended her beyond the basic facts of the issues arising out of the current brouhaha in Aviation.

I would defend my “Igbo sister” if there are grounds to defend her, but not simply because she’s my “Igbo sister” but because she has rights, and she should not suffer the laceration of powerful men who see mostly below her waist and are incapable of reading her mind. I have very little regard for spoilt brats whose messiah complex drives them to the elation of self-regard and calumny.

Mr. Fani-Kayode, Jasper Ayodeji’s client, is an interesting study: this conservative, right-wing, Cambridge-educated lawyer who thinks in profoundly medieval terms often needs to be called out of his closets. I therefore like to make the following observations regarding the piece to which he sends a half-baked minion to respond: my original essay, “Scandal in Aviation” was not about Mr.Fani-Kayode. But it is clear he likes the very opportunity to come to the public eye by inserting himself more forcefully, beyond my rather marginal reference to him in that essay.

Any reference to Fani-Kayode is purely incidental and goes merely to adumbrate a particularly clear situation, to wit: That Ms. Stella Adaeze Oduah has fought battles with powerful forces, including a former minister for aviation, in the person of Mr. Fani-Kayode. This former minister for aviation threw very vicious barbs at the current minister, and as Mr. Jasper Ayodeji clearly confirms called Oduah, a Minister of the government of the FederalRepublic a “Fish wife” among other calumnies.

This utter disrespect for the minister and serially for other people, particularly women outside of Mr. Fani-Kayode’s ethnic affiliation, is clearly what I meant by my reference to the “ethnic other.” It is public knowledge. Indeed, nothing I said of Mr. Fani-Kayode in the brief reference to him in that article is my personal opinion: it is reportage: they are derived from publicly stated comments to which Mr Fani-Kayode has never offered a refutation. I presume Mr. Fani-Kayode did “smoke” at some point or the other in his life.

But it is quite gratifying that his lawyer has publicly acknowledged in his attempts at a rebuttal that the only thing Mr. Fani-Kayode does get high on these days is the “holy spirit.” It is of such truths that one would, like the Americans just simply say: “Holy smokes!” But I should rather say, whatever gets Mr. Fani-Kayode high is his business; I have no truck in that matter: I was simply reporting his tiff with Ms. Stella Oduah as a point of departure to the point I labored to make in that essay, and it is simply this: even if the Minister, Ms. Oduah has fought her big battles, the president has an obligation to demand her resignation, and expand the inquiry into other Federal government establishments.

But I suspect that Mr. Ayodeji, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, exhibited very little comprehension of that article and even poorer communication skills in his attempts to rebut my column: I feel the personal insult of such mediocre writing and response to my essay. I too will be talking to my lawyers to advise me on the full range of defamation in that rebuttal. Meanwhile, Ayodeji described Mr. Fani-Kayode as “a man who has not only served his country well but has also saved lives by stopping crashes.”

I would take such an assertion under advisement, except that the facts seem to suggest otherwise. The plain incontrovertible fact is that Mr. Fani-Kayode was arrested in July 2008 by the EFCC for allegedly embezzling the Aviation Intervention Fund, and there is a case pending even now against him for money laundering. I have no opinion about these cases at the moment, and shall not make sub judice statements until the matter is discharged either in his favour or against him.

But it is plain fact that those who served their countries well are honoured and adulated; they are not dragged by the scruffs of their shirts before judges to answer to embezzlement and money laundering. I do not think much of Mr. Fani-Kayode. I do not see him in my waking moments. But it is my obligation as a purveyor of opinion to put him before the courts of public opinion whenever he makes use of his own bully pulpit to retail hokum as he frequently does. I have nothing also but contempt for the likes of Ayodeji who fish in shallow ponds.

In : Scandal

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