By virtue of their profession as public educationists and informants, Journalists, that is media practioners, are sensitive to prevailing circumstances, and are always in the forefront for amicable solution. That is why they are called “POLITICAL WATCHERS”.
So, in the olden days, when Nigeria was in colonial bondage, it was through journalism profession that agitation for freedom were initiated. A notable figure was a tutor in secondary school, in Lagos. Mr. Ernest Ikoli, who left teaching job at Kings College, Lagos. He hailed from Brass, in the then Eastern Nigeria, now Bayelsa State. He founded a newspaper, the AFRICAN MESSENGER in 1921, and used it to galvanise citizens to contribute to self rule. By 1934, he co-operated with others to form the Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM), and remained consistent in agitating for Independence. By 1937, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik), who also hailed from Onitsha, in the then Eastern Nigeria, and now in Anambra State, founded his own newspaper, the WEST AFRICAN PILOT, with its motto as “ SHOW THE LIGHT AND PEOPLE SHALL FIND THEIR WAY” and other newspapers, also, to broaden the scope of political enlightenment to achieve Independence.
With versatile academic attainments as an erudite journalist, Zik re-enforced his colleagues and intensified agitation for Independence. When the political parties he met on ground, the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) and Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM), became unpopular, because of mutual jealousy in quest of party privileges, Zik collaborated with other people, such as Harbert Macaculay, Hezikiah Davis, and formed a truly national political party, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) in 1944.
When election to Lagos Letislative Council, introduced by British Colonial Government, with 1922 Clifford Constitution, and commenced in 1923, with 3-yearly term, was repeated in 1947, Zik contested as a new candidate in NCNC, and because of the goodwill he accumulated with his newspapers, especially, the WEST AFRICA PILOT, won the election and became Councillor in Lagos Legislative Council. With his profession, as a journalist, Zik continued to guide Nigeria and won Independence in 1960.
But tribalism and religious fanaticism from Northern Nigeria, precipitated by the monstrosity of population, because of Muslim culture of polygamy of one man with four wives with numerous children, most of them street orchins (almajiri) who matured into bandits, imposed mediocre, ignorant and imbecile leadership on Nigeria, from 1960, to the military destruction and corruption till 1999. That was why Bishop Mattew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, said, in the interview he granted to Kenny Ashaka of Daily Sun newspaper of Monday, June 1, 2020, page 13, as follows:
“No part of the country has produced military or civilian President as Northern Nigeria had done. The North still insists that it wants to hold on to power at all costs. Yet, it has lacked the capacity to translate this power into meaningful and useful impact on the lives of even its immediate constituency”.
So, when the wisemen of G.34 who played leading role for the Army to return to barracks, were about to transform into a full-fledged political party, as PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP), led by an Igboman, the erudite Dr. Alex Ekwueme, they reasoned that if a system of equity and justice were not incorporated into the method of selecting quality leadership, through zoning, the North will continue to use the repugnant and reprehensible population to continue to monopolise the leadership with mediocrity and imbecility and ignorance. The PDP then incorporated in their constitution, that the North should rotate Presidency with the South. So, when the North rule for two terms of eight years, full tenure, the South shall take over for another two terms of eight years of full tenure.
Even though, that this is not in the 1999 Constitution, it has become a wise convention, which must be observed to ensure equity, justice and invariably enthrone PEACE, because “PEACE is better than strife”. After all, Britain, which is one of the wisest and most stable nations in the world, rule themselves with both WRITTEN CONSTITUTION and UNWRITTEN CONVENTION”.
According to Chinua Achebe, “For the second time in our short history, we had to face the disturbing fact, that Nigeria needed to liberate itself anew. This time, not from foreign power, but from our own corrupt and inept brothers and sisters”. (There was a Country, by Chinua Achebe, 2006, pp 143-144).
In this war to liberate Nigeria from corruption, inept and imbecile leadership, Journalists should not sit on the fence, but should be in the forefront. They should emulate Zik, who was one of them in the profession and participate actively. As the North had entrenched themselves in the Presidency, even though they did not play any positive role to get Independence, but used population clout, to reap what they did not sow, virtues of equity demands that they must not smell that Seat in 2023. The South West, through Obasanjo, got it in 1999-2007. The North, through Umaru Ya’radua, 2007-2010. The South South, through Goodluck Jonathan 2020-2015. The North again, through Buhari, 2015 till date. Now, it is certainly the turn of South East (Ndigbo). So, journalists should be actively involved in the crusade for South East Presidency in 2023.
But when it came for South East, it must not be just anybody. It must be someone who can make his kinsmen proud. The prescription of Bishop Matthew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto to select good leadership, is apt, as follows: “Every aspirant to a high office must be measured, not by the size of his or her material resources, but the content of their intellect. They must show us what they have accomplished and be COMPULSORITY SUBJECTED TO RIGOROUS PUBLIC DEBATES, AS ONE OF THE PRE-CONTIDITIONS. Anyone seeking to govern us must demonstrate a strength of both character and deep intellectual capacity to wrestle with the problems of Nigeria and the world”.
The former Governor of Anambra State, Sir Peter Obi KSS, CON, has the prescriptions of Bishop Kukah. He is an erudite scholar in Economic Development, Banking and Finance, Leadership and Peace Studies, etc. He is always invited by elite organizations for public lecture. On such occasions, he keeps his audience mesmerized by accurate analysis of political and economic developments of different nations. He is generous to education of youths, as seen that, always, he visited schools in Anambra State and Northern States, donating Computer, Bus, Science Laboratory, and money, to the schools, especially Christian schools in Northern Nigeria. And these Christian Schools in the North, are playing humanitarian roles in educating the out-of-school children (Almajiri) abandoned by their parents, to become street orchins and liability to Nation, as recruits of Fulani killer herdsmen.
Peter Obi is a role model when it comes to leadership. When she delivered a lecture, to mark the First 100 Days in Office of Governor Willie Obiano, in his First Term in 2014, Ambassador (Lady) Chimamanda Adichie, reminiscence on the ugly days of locost (1999-2006), when bad governance enveloped Anambra in negativity, and said:
“But the truth is that I have not always been proud of Anambra. I was ashamed when Anambra became a metaphor for poor governance, when our political culture was about malevolent shrines, and kidnappings and burnt buildings. When our teachers were forced to become petty traders and our school children stayed at home”.
“But Anambra rallied, and for me, that redemption, which is an on-going process, is personified in our former Governor Peter Obi. I remember the first time I met him years ago, how struck I was, how impressed, that in country noted for empty ostentation, our former Governor travelled so simple and so noiselessly. And perhaps he is proof that you can in fact, perform public service in Nigeria without destroying the eardrums of your fellow citizens and without scratching their cars with the whips of your escort”.
“I was struck by others things. How he once arrived early to church, because, according to him, he tried not to be late-in a society that excuse late-coming by government officials, because he wanted young people to see that governors came to church on time. How he visited one of the schools handed over to the Missions, and gave the School Prefect his direct phone number. How Government House here in Awka, was empty of hangers-on, because he has a reputation for what out people call “being stingy”, which in other parts of the world, would be called “prudently refusing to waste people’s resources”.
“Former Governor Peter Obi, ekenenkwo m gi (I salute you). May the foundation you build, stand firm and may our Governor Willie Obiano build even more”. (SUNRISE MAGASINE, AUGUST EDITION 2014, page 21-22).
I remember that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Anambra State, has a magazine called “THE WATCH DOG”. The Chairman of NUJ, Sit Emmanuel Ifesinachi, should revive the magazine, and make it a mouth piece in this war to redeem Nigeria from corruption and inptitute and ignorance and enthrone good governance, with South East at the Presidency, in 2023, and with Peter Obi as the President in 2023, based on MERIT and EQUITY, and crowned with JUSTICE. NUJ should collaborate with Ohaneze Ndigbo and organize Public Debate for Peter Obi, now.
By Peter Nwasike