By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Media men are powerful. They are members of the fourth estate of the realm. The constitution mentioned Executive, Legislature and Judiciary then the Media.
Though, every society begets the type of media it tolerates, any society with docile media practitioners reaps near comatose growth and development.
Journalists or media practitioners are living within societies but should not be influenced by what is happening in their societies in the line of their duties. Are journalists supposed to have friends and enemies in the lines of their duties? Not at all! They are supposed to serve everyone for the good of the society. Like judges, they are for everyone and for no one. They are moral barometers ,gadfly and conscience of the society. Friendship with those in constituted authority kills erection in journalism. Any copy that didn’t bite isn’t journalism copy, but either a PR or advertising copy and at extreme cases could be regarded as a tissue paper as the copies would be returned as unsold newspapers. Journalism is supposed to be anti establishment as watchdogs. Journalists bring to public knowledge what the concerned does not want the Public to know. It’s two edged sword , it builds and it destroys depending. Development Journalism still hurts when the reporter brings to knowledge that Neem Fertilizer plant Amawbia which for seven years has remained moribund, a project 90 percent completed in March 2014 with prospects of 500 jobs. Won’t the Government feel bad with a reporter on this? That’s Journalism.
Judging from my vantage position, my friendship with some of the society’s bigwigs like the former Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi ruined my chances elsewhere, but nothing to worry. He is lucky that despite his shortcomings in building relationship, his friends can still die for him and refuse food even when hungry, simply because he is an enigma.
A journalist should be selfless, public conscious and not egocentric. The journalist must be thorough, but when he fails, must be ready to apologise once caught on the wrong side with any information he dished out to the public without crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s.
I ran into a politician on the day death came knocking on the door of Tansian University founder, Monsignor Johnbosco Akam, Chief Goddy Ezenagu (Ochendo Mgbakwu) and Bar. Mrs. Ebele Ejikeme an appointee of Gov. Willie Obiano among others.
I told him I was pained because one of the numerous deputy governorship candidates in the forthcoming 2021 Anambra State gubernatorial election has passed on. The politician was shocked I had already zoned Deputy Governorship to Awka North. Anyone contesting for 2021 governorship slot should look towards Awka North for his or her deputy. I insisted that any political party that failed to zone deputy governorship position to Awka North has already failed. I was emphatic with details why it’s the turn of Awka North to produce a deputy governor for all the political parties. A story for another day.
But, he knocked me off with a question I wished he never asked me. ” Let’s talk about this in a relaxed mood , but why didn’t Senator Ifeanyi Ubah identify with you when you buried your father in law, late Pa Samuel Chukwunwike Nwadiogbu few days ago? Was Peter Obi there? Peter is seen as your man but I am sure, you aren’t enjoying him. The surprise came because during election year in Anambra state, politicians attend ceremonies they were not even invited for visibility. I told my friend that I don’t have money and therefore limited my invitation and again in compliance with Governor Willie Obiano’s directive on Covid-19 protocols.
I tried to divert the discussion to Obiano’s administration as this is the 7th year of his adminstration. He leaves office next year. On the persistence of my friend to know who and who attended my father in-law’s funeral, I told my politician friend that Governor Willie Obiano didn’t come neither Hon Chinedu Obidigwe nor Chief Primus Odili. His answer provoked a serious thought that I couldn’t sleep for days. He explained that Governor Obiano and team see me as an opposition journalist to their government because of my alleged blind support for Peter Obi. I was in sorrow because that wasn’t the real picture to paint about me. I was and still is a professional journalist who has neither friends nor enemies. My reportage depends on the line of duty and mood I was when an issue comes up. Everyone is my friend and at the same time my enemy. I act on facts before me not on emotions or any other considerations. On few occasions I acted on emotions, I regretted my actions afterwards. Those I acted for based on emotions, where are they?
However, Mr. Peter Obi got me entangled and the world sees me as his friend, but does Obi see me as such? I lost other valuable friends because of Peter Obi, but does it take away sleep from his eyes? Love him or hate him, he shall remain my man, until he says otherwise. I die with him. I told him Obi came. Obi is phenomenal but his relationship with his lovers isn’t wonderful, he prefers outsiders. Valentin Obienyem , a good man and a media guru like no other came. My Mummy and Prof, Prof Stella Chinyere Okunna came; though we disagree on some major personal issues, but she remains exceptional and the best among equals in both academic and political lives. The story of our relationship shall be told at a future date most likely in November.
Space won’t allow me list those who honoured me with their presence at my in-laws funeral but worthy of mention was Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, a gubernatorial aspirant, who came in a special way. Leave this matter for tomorrow.
I couldn’t understand what the politician meant by opposition journalist. I recalled how Hon Chinedu Obidigwe wanted me in Obiano’s administration as Chief Press Secretary (CPS) or anything close by and I failed him. Some others made efforts to get me onboard including James Eze, the current CPS to governor Obiano, who almost succeded yet I failed him and his team. What my problem was is a story for another day!
On remembering Dr. Okey Udeh, former Deputy Governor of Anambra state, tears dropped from my eyes. At the time we were busy projecting APGA government and Peter Obi for Obiano to come in , Dr Udeh called me aside and asked me. ‘ Is the APGA Government and Governorship candidate Chief Willie Obiano and wife aware of all these things you were doing?” I claimed they were aware because then Governor Peter Obi and team were aware. It was a charade. Thankless contributions. Any regrets? A story for another day.
The politician wanted to know why I was a torn on the flesh of the Governor Obiano’s adminstration in it’s early stage as my name was always on the lips of the government even during Exco meetings. I was accused of being sponsored by Peter Obi. He wondered why suddenly I became as cold as ice throughout their first term and even as his second term grinds to an end. He wanted to know if I was bought over.
According to the politician, I gave them jobs to do with my investigative reports then. I laughed in Amanuke Community style and told the politician to blame Hon Chinedu Obidigwe, Senator Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah and his friend Senator Sir Victor Umeh. I did ask him also to blame the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke as well as Hon Marcel Manafa and Nze Uche Nworah, PhD among others. I regret encountering alternate chairman of ABS Board, Emeka Maduagwu. He made me look stupid even with my note at his arms. Primus Odili added salt to injury with Federal job placement ordered from the office of the Governor. Stories for another day. Let me not go further. Nothing to worry.
I remember I gave the government some sleepless nights before I had emissaries whom I gave my words and I had kept to it till date. Anybody in payroll, can now urinate on the cyber space with this. I care not, because it afforded me the seremity of mind to complete my course work for my PhD in journalism.
Now , governance is over but good enough we are in an election year. I am going to contribute in my style, whether I have the semantics of English Language as a PhD holder or not. The important thing is that my message gets to the people unecumbered.
In 2014 after prosecuting Governor Willie Obiano’s election, I was relieved of my duties in the Nation Newspapers on the day former Chairman of NUJ Anambra state council, Comrade Tochukwu Udoji was buried. I got a query that morning on why disciplinary action should not be taken against me for writing for The Sun Newspapers while still working for The Nation, but before I could finish answering the query I was asked to go. I gave Sun story and they used it with my name. Are journalists not sharing stories? Why should Sun use my byline? I received the sad news with mixed feeling. I did nothing to warrant that sudden withdrawal of my services without query and reprimind, particularly after a commendation. The MD, Victor Ifijeh didn’t want explanations. I love him, because God used him to prepare my table better. I took it in good faith after efforts from different quarters to get me back failed. Though, many things led to my loosing my cherished job when I was rising higher by my own judgment. I knew the remote and immediate courses but nothing to worry about again. I allowed God to direct me and he took charge completely. Those who contributed to my sack, I have forgiven them, though it shall continue to be a reference point to teach others what God can do in the midst of hopelessness.
My advise to those who might face sudden misfortune in their lives is that not all misfortune is of the devil. Some come from God Almighty to fulfill His mission and plans for our lives. During my period of tribulation, all kinds of evil minded people surfaced from my locality and beyond urging me to fight back my known and perceived enemies.
Truly, I have forgiven and moved on, but can’t stop talking about it. This is because without that job lost, I wouldn’t have completed my Masters degree program that already lasted for 7 years and my PhD afterwards. I wouldn’t have encountered Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Ubah for the second time that changed my narratives in journalism as I became an Editor in his Authority Newspapers. I got commendation letter for my unparalleled show of commitment from the management which led to my elevation six months after joining the team as a mere reporter. At the time, I saw the entry point as a humiliation, having been state correpondent for Champion newspaper for 10 years, and other papers even, so I rejected the offer but thanks to Barr. Afam Iluno, former PDP Publicity Secretary and Barr BenChuks Nwosu, former Speaker/ Deputy speaker Anambra state House of Assembly who encouraged me to accept the offer. I am grateful to them.
I and Dr. Ubah, Authority Newspapers publisher, were very close until I made demands from him in a tone he didn’t like. That my request led to a teleconference to be immediately summoned by Ubah to clarify me on issues with the management of the newspaper. I called Ojo Isaac my colleague, friend and brother to relay my shock. He too wept for all our hopes of good life were dashed. I shall tell the full story some other time.
So, I suspected that episode made him not to honour my father in law’s burial because I told him face to face and communicated him adequately about the burial. He didn’t ask me till date. Ubah attends burial everywhere even in near hell situations, including facebook page and WhatsApp group admins. Why not mine, his management staff incharge of South East? Probably because I didn’t inform even a single person from Authority Newspapers but Ojo.
Before the crisis that rocked the medium, Authority Newspapers had become a household name as the staff worked tirelessly to build and grow the brand even with pausity of resources. A story for another day.
Thank God, I started an online blog, www.odogwublog.com initially as a blogspot and when I lost my job at Nation, I peeped up my ante. I failed myself. I should have continued on it without working for anyone because it made waves and garnered fans across the world. www.odogwublog published by Odogwu Media Communications limited was the pioneer of blogging in Anambra State and even the entire South East; competing in reach and popularity with bloggers like Elombah and 247ureports (former Ukpakareports) who though indigenes of Anambra but blog from abroad.
That blog cost me jobs because of daring publications but it’s a story for another day. I became good in the act, though other interests are now taking me away from my first love. Odogwublog was a success before wrong decisions marred our beautiful experience and before we could recover from it, a thousand and one other blogs took over the centre stage. It became a competition to restore our cherished position which finally today we are proud to announce we have recovered it big and better.
Odogwublog is still leading in this part of the world, depending on who the judge is. And we give God the glory.
This is 2021 and Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, JP has completely kept his words not to write anything about anyone unless God asks me to as a moral gadfly and societal lens for the good society for years now. Henceforth, the romance is over. Let’s dance factually and truthfully as much as possible in the village square.
Please from March 2021, it’s an election year in Anambra state, if you can’t tolerate critical analysis or outright spot-on on your shortcomings as a politician desirous of coming to govern Anambra state, it’s better you face your business rather than identify with politics because missiles shall be fired from all sides though I frown at outright lies against anyone for political gains. It’s not worth it for we are afterall brothers and sisters. Whatever is the truth or opinion based on solid events or episodes could be interpreted either way to favour or discredit, it’s welcomed in an election year.
Social media influencers and some facebook groups admin even WhatsApp Groups admins now claim they are journalists, and malign political opponents in the name of defending their bosses. Please claim what you are and nobody will dispute it, but claiming to be a journalist isn’t proper. Only a citizen journalist or blogger who is a trained or professional journalist can make that claim. That you are a writer and get your views published either in your platforms or elsewhere does not make you a journalist. Does it? A trained journalist even without a platform is a journalist even when not in practice. There are lawyers and other professionals who are not in practice.
Let me apologize to all politicians and their aides before hand as I return to the field. I partly took a leave to upgrade myself and partly to honour my words to so many. That cord of silence has been broken for election is nigh. Anambra deserves the best. We are entering the rings for the final battle for the good of Anambra state. It’s still journalism which brought us together, that tried tearing the cord of our union apart. Those who can forgive because they are practicing Christians, let them forgive. Those who can’t ,it’s till judgement day. Governor Obiano is going, he is not coming back but a new government whether continuity of APGA or a new government of either PDP or APC or any other political party including the likes of YPP will take over the mantle of governance come 2022. So, I shall express my views whether good or bad about aspirants to guide the voting public in making the right choices while casting their votes. Of a truth there are some impostors who are not fit to govern Anambra State no matter how much they pretend to be ambassadors of charity and goodwill. Some of the aspirants are rotten eggs inside out but camoflage, laying ambush for our common patrimony. Some of their acts are shameful and unbelievable. Can anyone be holier than the Pope? I have encountered some of them one on one and shall tell my story of how hopeless they could be if entrusted with Anambra treasury. Some are despotic and mannerless hence unworthy to be called Excellency. I shall add my voice. And politicians please should tolerate me. When a governor emerges we can now talk about accountability and stewardship of the incumbent in the last 8 years. For now, Governor Obiano is not contesting an election and whether he supports anyone or not isn’t an issue until we get to the bridge. Eyes on the ball please!
Dr Odogwu Emeka Odogwu is a Journalist, Editor and Blogger @ www.odogwublog.com. He wrote in from Awka and can be reached [email protected]