Everybody wants to be a publisher, including yours sincerely. However, the cliché remains true that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Unfortunately, there are very negligible individuals who want to run against the mill. To them, publishers they must be, by fire, by force.
Sadly, too, the leadership of the journalism trade in Nigeria is either complacent or uninterested in sanitising the noble profession and ridding it of charlatans wreaking havoc to its reputation.
It seems to me that Owerri, the Imo State capital, is the headquarters of these unsavoury rag sheets.
Take the back-warding Frontline, ‘published’ by one Shirley Munonye, and sleepy Watchdog, ‘published’ by Precious Nwadike, for instance. It is rather very unfortunate that though they chose beautiful names for their titles, they are nothing but leprous.
Now, they were among the select media players and publishers invited to a luncheon where the distinguished senator representing Imo North in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, Sir Frank Ibezim, gave an account of his stewardship in his eight months in the Senate.
The senator encouraged the media not to be satisfied by his presentation but to conduct independent investigations into his activities at the Senate chamber and to the people of Imo North before drawing their conclusions.
If you asked me, I would say such confidence could only come from a lawmaker who knows his onions and is sure of what he has done.
He had narrated how he inherited the representation of a zone that was bereft and forlorn from the late Ben Uwajumogu. Before then, Uwajumogu himself was locked out of effective presence by litigation. And after his death, it took a year and five months before Ibezim could take over, by which time the 2021 budget had been concluded without input from Imo North.
According to Ibezim: “My constituency and I suffered three tragedies of loss of our senator, lateness to the senate and nothing in the budget for my takeoff and for our people.
However, not to be discouraged, Ibezim successfully leveraged on the support of God, Governor Uzodinma and Ministerof State, Education, Dr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who linked him with the senate leadership led by Ahmed Lawan . He was able to secure some committee positions through which he has been able to secure some lifeline achievements and dividends for the zone.
The list is endless: Support of colleagues for his motions, culminating in favourable resolutions; sponsorship of two bills, one at the second reading stage while the other listed on the order paper for presentation upon resumption this January; five major Federal Government interventions, the N30,000 Survival Funds from the Bank of Industry from which not less than 400 persons of Imo North benefitted; N60,000 Special Public Works Programme, with not less than 300 beneficiaries; N500,000 Covid-19 Relief loan, with over 200 beneficiaries; N60,000 Job Security Stipends and N100,000 National Directorate of Employment Loan, which started hitting the accounts of beneficiaries in December 2021. So far, 350 persons have already confirmed receipt of the ongoing last two schemes, primed for not less than 600 persons, respectively.
In all, no fewer than 1,000 Imo North constituents have benefitted from these intervention programmes, which have alleviated the pains and boosted the economy of households, families and communities in Imo North.
Ibezim’s love for foundation education was made manifest in his Classroom Libraries Project in primary schools in the country, using at least 18 primary schools in Imo North as pilot. He has also motivated teachers through cash awards to elicit their commitment and passion towards this project.
Through Ibezim’s office, not less than 300 persons have landed employment in Federal Government establishments.
Also, his six constituency offices in the six LGAs of the zone, have trained our women and youths in different entrepreneurial areas to make the private sector drive our economy.
Moreover, while preparing for the takeoff of the construction of Okigwe Power Transmission Sub Station, which his first motion catalysed, he also facilitated the construction of a solar power plant for Ehime Mbano and Ihitte Uboma LGAs, with another, for Okigwe North on the way.
However, as if being clairvoyant, he also urged journalists to concentrate on unifying issues rather than tend to promote matters that divide the people.
That is exactly what Munonye and Nwadike have proven via their rag sheet publications.
Actually, in the course of engaging the journalists, the Publisher of the Horn Newspapers, Bright Chimezie Njoku, had asked Ibezim how he felt, regarding the cancellation of Araraume’s appointment as Chairman of the NNPC Board.
Ibezim simply replied: “It’s painful. I am truly terrified that we lost such a plum job. Most things happen for us to know that God is everything and the need for us to synergise with our governor, who is vested with the power to forgive and even order the release of a convict from prison, as one elected for the good of my people, this would have been avoided, it’s indeed a loss.”
However, Shirley Munonye and Precious Nwadike, the ‘Publishers’ of Frontline and Watchdog ‘newspapers’, respectively, threw decency to the dogs and conjured their own headlines and content to the effect that Ibezim said Araraume got what he deserved for disrespecting the Governor Hope Uzodinma. Haba!!!
I remember being thrilled as a rookie reporter, still trying to hone my skill by an episode during the berthing of Tell magazine out of Newswatch. Tell came up with a teaser, ‘we tell the news, others watch it’; Newswatch fired back, ‘how can you tell the news without watching it?’
Today I ask how can you be in the frontline when your steps are retreating; how can you be a watchdog when you are a mere sleepy dullard?
It is for reasons of such nastiness that the government occasionally threatens certain actions against the media, which we all trample down as undemocratic. But unless we institute stringent measures with regard to who practises journalism, we shall continue to attract unhealthy government interest. In which case, frontline or backline, watchdog or lapdog, journalism loses.
The Araraume loss is indeed painful and there is no way Ibezim would gloat over it because it is a huge loss to Imo North in particular.
I have always argued that Uzodinma is the executive governor of Imo State for now irrespective of whether his office was ratified by the Supreme Court or inferior court. I am not a lawyer and, therefore, not qualified to dabble into the merits or demerits of the judicial decision that pronounced him governor. Those calling him Supreme Court governor, disrespecting his office and setting the state on fire are enemies of the people.
I cannot speak for Uzodinma but it doesn’t sound plausible to me that he was responsible for Buhari’s removal of Araraume from the NNPC board. I believe the governor would have been happier if Araraume had retained that slot, being Imo, than going to Anambra. At any rate, those wailers now agree that the ‘Supreme Court governor’ has the right to influence things after all; one hopes they would now rein in their army and allow peace to reign in Imo.
I have a feeling that rather than Uzodinma’s purported influence, Buhari was alarmed by the hyper manner Araraume’s supporters celebrated his initial appointment. The president may have changed his mind since he didn’t know what could warrant such raucous celebration for an office Araraume does not really need.
Indeed, that office adds nothing to the Agu Isi Ebu, who is accomplished on many fronts already. Even contesting the Senatorial cc seat as if his life depended on it was very unnecessary. However, that is what one gets when he surrounds himself with pigheaded bigots.
I believe it is the same spin masters that goaded Araraume into a bitter senatorial contest that did him in once again. I believe he would now be mindful of the cheerleaders whose eyes are ever trailed on his huge financial war chest rather than his welfare.
Journalism its borders are like Nigeria’s, porous and unmarked. Even a doctorate degree holder can never be found practising medicine. The same applies to the law and others. However, journalism is the only profession that has no gatekeepers. Therefore, every straggler strolls in unrestrained, messing up the noble pen trade. The time to remove monkey hands from the stew pot is NOW!!!