INTERVIEW WITH NUJ CHAIRMAN ANAMBRA STATE COUNCIL, COMRADE DR ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU, JP

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Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu PhD, JP is the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Anambra State. Dr Odogwu is a Lecturer in the department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Unizik, and also an Assistant Director, UNIZIK Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka. He is the Editor ,Authority Newspapers South-East, Nigeria. He has worked with Champion Newspapers, Nation Newspapers, Nigerian Pilot Newspapers, The Oracle Newspapers, as well as a stint with Vanguard Newspapers and Leadership Newspapers to mention but a few.

Comrade Odogwu , a journalist, Editor and a Blogger is also the Promoter of www.odogwublog.com, an online Newspaper organization. He is a Child Rights Advocate with mentees across Journalism, Business, Education, and literary world to mention but a few. He is also the Communication Director , Province of the Niger and Diocese of Awka Anglican communion led by Archbishop Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, PhD, JP.

Dr Odogwu, born as Odogwu Christian Chukwuemeka Nwannedinma Odogwu in 1977 at Umunze is from Amanuke, Awka North local government area Anambra state, lived briefly in Enugu, Ebonyi, Lagos , in Jigawa state and has traveled across Nigeria , and has as well visited about 9 countries.

He worked in so many organizations before now and credited himself in all positions. He is into Media , Community and Public Relations Consultancy.

In this interview with Lawrence Nwimo, Chioma Abigail Mbah and Chinaza Osigwe ,Comrade Dr Odogwu speaks on a wide range of issues including his leadership of NUJ in Anambra, international award, his career, mentees and views about journalism then and now.

•I want to be remembered as someone who assisted in reviving NUJ in Anambra State – Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD

• Journalism is not completely a profession for money making – Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD

Excerpts:

You have been the Chairman of NUJ Anambra Sate Council since January 2022, what are your achievements so far?

(Laughs!) Can we even enumerate our achievements? I and my team have
worked very hard to ensure that NUJ Anambra state is in the news everyday by lining up about fifty activities in the last one year plus. We are not interested in praise singing but because there is need for you to know , let me summarize them.

In our first year, we did so many activities that people thought were impossible. We have held events like the Blogger’s Summit, Media Executives Summit, Cultural Day cum New Yam Festival, Fashion and Arts Expo, just to mention but a few. We had so many events. I can give you a list of them if you want. All these we did to recreate, in the minds, that NUJ is numeroe-un whether as a trade Union, or as a professional body in Nigeria and Anambra state per say.

We had so many events that almost every member of NUJ was involved in
one activity or the other. And as a Union, we did not force anybody to
be part of what we are doing. We wooed and are still wooing everyone to be part of what we are doing, because we came in with a rescue mindset
which is not just to rescue NUJ but to give it a better standing and move it to the next level for a new crop of professionals to take it over from where we have stopped. We are part of the middle professionals. This means that we looked up to some people like Victor Agusiobo, Chris Aghanya, Okechukwu Obeta, Tony Okafor ,Anayo Okoli, Onu Nwanosike, Daniel Anigbo among others even Monic Okechukwu, a national officer and the rest of others, when we were growing up. I met Victor Agusiobo as chairman of NUJ in 1999 when I was powering as a student activist, championing the cause of literacy and enrollment for the people of Awka North. It is on good record that Victor Agusiobor spoke at the event that we
organized with the likes of then Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Pita Ejiofor, and so many other top dignitaries who came to move Awka North forward. So, it is not today that I have been at the front runner of moving the society forward through Unionism. I joined the media shortly after. I was the Coordinator, Campaign Against Illiteracy and low male enrolment in Awka North . We really rallied our people to go to school. It was the same year I joined journalism as an attachee with ABS Radio and Television Awka. And, later that year, I joined National Link Newspapers as a staff with my ND.

Let me inform you that we attracted a brand new 18 seatter bus within one week in office and finances thereto to fuel it as donated by former Governor Willie Obiano. I was pretty okay with his solidarity and after that gesture, he left office. We had a goodtime with him we even at a point stayed the entire day with him exchanging views. That was why when he left office, and had challenges with EFCC , we stood by him against all odds. And that gained the necessary milage, leading to his release.

As if not enough we embarked on provision of a functional Borehole in the press center. We have done that but someone has to offset the bills and we name the water scheme after him or her.

If you noticed ,our benefactor Mr Godwin Ezeemo either by a wrong advice or personal choice haven’t been interested in issues concerning the union which is unfortunate. We are eternally grateful to him for building us that structure, and with time , if I get his nod to so do, I shalll set a day every year to celebrate him. That’s why I was looking for him but some busybodies aren’t comfortable to let him see us. I personally made moves to get to the root of his anger but met a brick wall. Let me stop at this unless otherwise moved to. And the level Ezeemo left the press center building, anyone doing anything upstairs maybe risking his or her life hence we built and installed iron protectors and handrails from first stair to the last floor and the large veranda. We are planning for more work over there. We are also looking for partners.

Most importantly is our ability to unite our members across the state whom have not known them selves by names for a longer time by bringing everyone to the same table for events and Committees. We are grateful to God for that . We tried to carry everyone along without let.
We also did training but we are not yet satisfied with that aspect but curiously, the government of Prof Soludo we thought would be
Media friendly became non supportive. In other to continue the good tiding of the founding fathers of our union, some journalists without Journalism certificates were enrolled into Paul University, Awka for Professional Certificate in Journalism and Media studies after an arrangement championed by our Amazon, Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna, now a DVC in the university after a meritorious service at Unizik. I suspect we have about 30 of us doing the immersion programme.

We awarded scholarships worth close to One million Naira to indigent pupils in Anambra state particularly Awka North in partnership with a pressure group , Odimma Awka North Peoples Assembly led by Chief Shedrack Anakwue and A & D Tabansi Foundation led by Ambassador Aloysius Tabansi who is also the President General of Urum Development Union. We also mobilized to reach out to flood victims,underprivileged and deprived members of the society. What we mobilized is worth several millions.

We attracted free healthcare for all the journalists in the state as facilitated by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike. Let me not talk about our welfare of feeding our members at every Congress and providing transport support. And our picnic visit to Ogbunike cave. So many events happening at NUJ.

We even constructed a minor pavement at the NUJ Secretariat complex, and rewired some faulty electrical points at the press center. We have partnership with Paul University, Awka which I told you about earlier and we have partnership with Nigeria Book Foundation in an effort to immortalize ,late Prof Chukwuemeka Ike , then traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu, Orumba North local government area. We did the first memorial lecture series last four months.

And the one everyone benefitted most was our facilitation of the processing and renewal of International Passports for journalists in Anambra State in preparation for foreign training which was later stalled by lack of support from our Govermor, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo. We thought he would have supported us no matter how little but our application was thrown back at us with impunity. Who is fighting NUJ behind the scene, as if Soludo is? I am yet to unravel the mystery.

We recovered our bus abandoned at government House for over 11 years . The bus was used by Late Tochukwu Udoji-Omelu and Henry Nwasike. We are seeking for resources to refurbish it. We are trying to recover the one used by our National Vice- President, Emma Ifesinachi during his term as Chairman of NUJ. All efforts have been futile but we are hopeful he shall avail us the easiest way out. Note that during the election, we facilitated the coming of INEC officials for journalists to register for PVC at the Press Centre. There are so many projects to mention, even though we have failed in the major one we targeted which is attracting someone to take over the compound for an eatery and a drinking pub, even the building for mini hotel since we have about 25 rooms there. It’s painful but the economy isn’t favorable either. So many economic crisis now, but trusting God, we shall do our best and others shall continue.

What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Well, I have had challenges. One major challenge is that human beings are very difficult to manage. I have had the challenge of mobilizing my men in one accord to pursue a goal. We supposed to be agenda setters. We supposed to be moral barometers of the society. Remember, a journalist does not have a friend or an enemy because he is a friend to the society. Any journalist who is a friend to anybody is losing the mark because the so called friend may commit an infringement, fraud or atrocity; you find it hard to report such. But, when you are a friend to the society, you are dispassionate and you do the right
thing at the right time always, not minding whose ox is gored. Aside
the human challenge, we have completely lacked government patronage. In as much as we have friends in government, like the Commissioner for Information, Paul Nwosu, the Chief Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, Don Onyenji, Ify Obinabo, and so many others, but they are handicapped to assist us because it is when they are given approvals to support us that they would support. Governor Soludo, in over a year in office, has not deemed it fit to interact with journalists in Anambra State, but he interacts with every other pressure group in the state and country. He did one year in office, invited everyone across Nigeria but no formal invitation to Journalists in Anambra. I may be wrong but my men called severally and I said nobody told me anything. Journalists were the agenda setters and the pace setters who will inform him about what is happening in the society, especially areas where he has no knowledge of and where he needs to take a decisive stand. Like ,this one youth, two skills fraud ongoing, what does he know happening but, we know how it’s been sabotaged with trusted people in government compiling just names to pay people who did nothing just to share the dividends into two equals after payment. I saw and heard rubbish when they shared N10,000 each to the youths. Let me leave it at this. So many things going wrong under his nose ,yet he hates journalists with passion or so, I think.

 Do you mean that Governor Soludo has not been of any help to NUJ and
your administration in the state?

He has not been of any help. NUJ in other States enjoy subventions and have their secretariats built and secured by the state government. But here nothing like that exists. Even when we applied for training, he threw it inside the gutter. We applied for subvention and if you read the reply, you shall ask if the letter was meant for a journalists body , but we stomached it.
Across the Federation, journalists in various states were appointed into positions of authority and Councils assisted grately like in Kano,
Ganduje built a multi-milllion plaza for NUJ as well as a press conference center and Plateau State Governor did same in different style. Edo state government and Delta State government dis wonders too and across the Federation it’s wins for NUJ, yet our Governor is the most exposed among them, but could not even see us as friends. His first move in journalists direction was to mute closure of National Light Newspapers and sack journalists. Preposterous decision. He employs thousands of other professionals but journalists working with National Light should be rendered jobless and useless.

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How best can you assess Soludo’s general performance as governor of
Anambra state?

I wouldn’t like to assess his performance because it is too early. He is only one year plus in the office. But so far, I’m not happy that he is not carrying the journalists along. Even the journalists working in his office who are called Press Corps were not carried along allegedly. He is acting as if he is not interested in journalists instead he is happy dealing with his group called Soludo TV. He has forgotten the fact that mainstream media remains mainstream media. With the presence of Professionals like us with enormous experience in the field, the governor has the opportunity of getting clues of happenings around him that are unknown to him, but since he doesn’t want us to be telling him things off
record, maybe we would be telling him some of those things on the pages of newspapers for him to read and get himself acquainted with what is happening. And sometimes those who witness Exco meetings couldn’t hide their observations on his attitude to his cabinet. But, I won’t talk about that as I am not in his Exco. It’s gossip.

Would you give him advice if you are opportune to?

No advice. I can only suggest to him. He is the executive governor of the state and a professor for that matter. Probably, he knows more and even better than some of us that are practicing it. For instance, you are a father and you go out in the morning, while coming home in the evening, you are expected to buy bread for your people who you left at home. But in his case, people who follow the governor from month to month, Monday to Monday are not given their little stipend that is about N10, 000 in some instances and probably more unknown to us. They have not gotten the stipend for up to
three months since Soludo took over 17 months now or there about. I tell you that from the day of his swearing in, I knew that something would be wrong with journalists practicing in Anambra state. But like I said earlier, those things we ought to have told him in private are what we would start telling him in public now. The truth is that as members of the fourth Estate, our duties are constitutional but however the governor and his government wish to, we are here and shalll be here as his four years or eight years elapse.

Could you describe your relationship with the NUJ National body?

It is like asking a governor his relationship with the President ,Federal Republic of Nigeria. If I don’t have relationship with my national body, who will I have relationship with? If I don’t have relationship with the people I work with, who will I have relationship with? There are some idiosyncrasies that we all have but the important thing is to put selfish interest
aside and work for the good of the Union and members. My interest in
this three years mandate that I have is the good of the Union and the interest of the members. I try to do the right things always for the sake of humanity. Whenever I injure the ego of anyone, I come back to plead with the person because it is not always intentional, but whatever opinion people want to form about me, I don’t care because it is not my business. I am a child and son of the society and I pursue it no matter whose ox is gored.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of your reign as Chairman of
NUJ in Anambra state?

I want to be remembered for reviving NUJ and the interest of the members in the Union. Already, I have about five persons showing interest to become next Chairman of Anambra NUJ. That shows that interests are already rekindled unlike it was before now. And since interests are rekindled, it means that the Union is matching forward.
I told the Union members that I am not even looking for a second tenure, but if it comes, know it’s by happenstance. My interest is three years and to live the stage when the ovation is high. I want to
be remembered as someone that came, saw and conquered for NUJ and its
members.

What are your future plans for implementation in Anambra NUJ?

I already spent one year and 7 months or so. In fact, I am granting this interview as part of my one year anniversary in office. Within this period, I raised about 50 NUJ committees which I later merged and reduced to 25 for our second year in office . The essence is to reduce the tension on my members. In fact, by July and with God helping us, every committee will swing into action. Maybe
the State governor will support us better this year. But if he fails, the union must match on. He wasn’t Governor when NUJ came into existence, he shall leave and NUJ continues. I came into office before him and I shall do my best within my abilities but if he supports us ,we shall do more. Let me recognize that during our Press Week, we approached the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment , Chief Paul Nwosu for support and the Governor released N1M to us for that event. We are grateful but.

What is your advice to your members especially this time that the new
media is ushering in as the fifth estate of the realm?

The key to a professional practice is professionalism. Anyone who is not yet carried as a professional journalist or rather still dwells on the traditional method should upgrade. And for us to be professional in what we do, we must face the ethics squarely. We must be topnotch in whatever we do, so that those who are not trained journalists but have the opportunity of having online social media handles and blog
sites will learn from what we do. We the professionals should drive the online space. In Anambra state and southeast, I was the first person to establish a blog site, that’s an online newspaper where I practiced online journalism….www.odogwublog.com . I started the practice before it was taken over by Tom, Dick and Harry. But we are not deterred. As a university teacher, we are bringing up young ones who will smash the city as soon as possible and after their graduation. They are already doing wonders in school and if they take
after us, the society would know that they really are pen pushers and that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Having devoted your career in the profession for over two decades, why
is it that NUJ members do not command the same respect as members of other professionals like NMA, NBA, among others?

The truth is that journalism started with low rank operators. What I mean by this is: when journalism started, there were no people who read journalism. So, everybody was brought in to come and practice journalism. People with school certificate and anybody who can write
or spell his name was brought together. That was why so many people who did journalism do not have up to first degree. Again, the issue of he who pays the piper dictates the tune; so many people who are not supposed to own a media house established media houses and brought people who are not qualified to be journalists to be in charge of the stations because of religion, nepotism and tribalism. In the process, they too who are the managers of the stations brought in their friends
and relatives to come and work. Before you know it, they had become journalists by association and were enrolled. And in this era of social media, everybody is now a journalist. And what killed journalism is the hiring of illustrates on media power and performance in the name of media team. They pollute the cyberspace though a few hired the right people as leaders of the bunch. However, despite these, journalists today are having the respect and attention they desired. This is because now we practicing journalists have PhD in journalism, Mass Communication, Media literacy, among others. In NUJ Anambra, we have about 8 professionals who practiced journalism with PhD now even though I am the first PhD holder to be the Chairman of the Union in both old and new Anambra State. And the first to get it in core journalists in field journalism known as Correspondents Chapel, a chapel of NUJ. I contested to become Chairman via Correspondents chapel. So I am an example of those with PhD in journalism and I have others too. Again,
qualified tutors who are journalists are training younger ones to go higher than they had gone. In another dimension, Journalism is not only a professional body, but also a trade Union. Some persons are practicing journalism as a trade union; others are practicing it as
professionals. This is why you cannot synchronize it very well in tits and bits to make it like the NBA, NMA and others. Again, because of the advancement of technology which has permeated into journalism coupled with the unbundling of Mass Communication, there are so many people who will still be part of journalists or NUJ which ordinarily
should not be members. Consider a situation where you have the online
media and the multimedia; they are all part of the unbundled Mass Communication, therefore, they should be part of NUJ. However, NUJ has
streamlined, strengthened and repositioned under the National
President, Chief Chris Isiguzo, for a better professional and trade
unionism. Currently, if you don’t have a degree in the related fields, you won’t be a member of the NUJ. That’s what the new constitution stated.

Do you think there are other ways NUJ can be repositioned?

Yes, of course! Play with the media and get roasted. An average journalist is not supposed to have money because when you are working for the society, money should not be your interest. The way we are talking about professionalism is to charge money to do our reports. We
are even crying that some people are charging money to do their reports because it is unethical and unprofessional. But when we now
professionalize, for you to be able to maintain your profession, you
have to charge people to do their reports. If anybody calls you to
talk about anything you have to tell him or her how much to pay. If he pays it that is the professionalism we are talking about. When lawyers talk about professionalism, they charge people to render their professional services. Same as doctors, they charge you before they touch you. Journalists are not like that. They can’t be completely professional body for money making. They can professionalize in certain ways that the ethical standards would be maintained or the rules of the job will be observed. But if they professionalize like the medical doctors and lawyers then it will cut off the neck of everybody in the society and the poor people cannot access the media to voice out their desires. We are already a professional body but we are doing our best to harmonize. That is why we are saying for anybody to be a member of NUJ or practice journalism, you must have minimum of first degree or HND in Mass Communication or related fields. Now you must be a graduate before you practice as a professional.

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How has it been combining lecturing and your duties as the NUJ Council
Chairman?

The truth is that I had no intention of being a lecturer. I had planned my life to be a director in the Ministry of Information either in the state or Federal level. However, circumstances threw me up. Having completed my PhD at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, I was looking for job for some people and fortunately came in contact with my ally, Oga
and colleague, Prof Emeka Ezeonu, former REC Imo state, former Vice-Chancellor Hezekiah University Umudike. This is somebody I have been giving my services over the years. And rather than do what I was pleading for, he
said my type of person is what is needed in the University system. That was how I found myself in the university system and to the glory of God; they gave me the task of training year one students on MAC 111, News Writing and Reporting. Today, if you see my students either
in year one or two, you will know that I gave them practical experience of what they do. A lot of them are doing great in their levels and if sustained to their graduation, they will be warriors and
ambassadors of the profession from Unizik, though they are first my Ambassadors and Ambassadors of www.odogwublog.com. The platform that marketed them.
So, combining the two is like a marriage of circumstance. I was planning to contest an election when the offer came. I won the election despite the oppositions against my candidacy. Truth be told. I am a misunderstood personality. People do not understand who I am and my behavior. So many people stood against me but to the glory of God, I won the election and I am carrying everyone along. Immediately after the election, I met my Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone FAS, the Dean of my Faculty, the Head of my Department; individually and they all gave me their supports. They put my lectures in the early hours to enable me do my lectures then rush back to tidy up the NUJ activities. I am coping very well. Even, this new semester, I have four courses I co-lecture and other engagements.

How do you think the traditional media still mould public opinions in Nigeria?

Even if everything ends, the traditional media will remain supreme. That is why after reading those things online; people still go to the traditional media to confirm them. Remarkably, the traditional media has done well to itself by establishing online platform. Today, almost every organization has online platform to synchronize what they have
on paper and what is online. The media is converging and you can see that newspapers are being reviewed online and on television these days. So, the traditional media especially the newspaper will remain the agenda setter for the society and for the media till tomorrow.

What do you think should be brought into the teaching of journalism in this digital age especially in African continent?

Mass Communication is already unbundled and in the unbundling, about 9 departments emerged. What else do you expect it to be? Any student,
who passes through these departments and later specializes on one, will become a star in his or her chosen career. There is nothing else to add because everything has been added. The unbundling has already made Mass Communication all encompassing, all embracing and internationally recognized more than it’s previous status.

Before I ask other questions, what is your take on the recently held presidential election
in Nigeria?

Impunity took place; Impunity and manipulation of the highest order by
the umpire that we all respected. It showed that some people who are
wearing gowns as professors do not know what they are doing. Anyway
they said he is a professor of Islamic history, but I see no relationship between Islamic history and INEC duties. How can an umpire fail his own exam? The INEC Chairman destroyed his own exam for unknown interest. The election, particularly the presidential election, was a sham. We saw the senatorial and house of
representatives election and how the results were uploaded seamlessly.
Why should the presidential election be different? They may have noticed that the other candidate was winning, reason they got the whole process truncated. I pray that the judiciary shall live up to the expectation and give a verdict that will be memorable in the
annals of the history of this country.

3 years ago or so, you won the PWC 2019 award, how much do you appreciate the award?

That award was amazing, because it came when I didn’t expect. I already left active field journalism to editing as Editor of a zone since 2016. So I wasn’t exposed to stories that will give me an award. It was like wow! God Almighty did it. I never anticipated winning the award because I did not prepare any write up for the award. I just got one of the write-ups I did for Oracle newspaper as the Southeast/ South South Bureau chief and sent to PWC organization through my blog www.odogwublog.com.

One day I was browsing through my mail and I came across an invitation to Lagos to claim my award. It was my second time of subscribing for an award. I got the first one but was denied by the organizers because I was close to the financiers. I had witnesses the day I was announced as a winner only for me to get to the hall, another person was announced. It was painful but what can I do. And this second one I got it too. They said I was the second runner-up which could be best interpreted as third position and which has a consolation prize. I was given a certificate of recognition and some amount of money. I regret not subscribing to awards with my well investigated stories when I was in the field as a field Marshall in the field of journalism.

The award was the highest thing that has happened to me in my profession. I have done great things in journalism in the past twenty years, many things that supposed to win several awards but unfortunately, I have never subscribed for any award and the organizations that I have worked with starting with Champion Newspapers, Nation, Authority newspaper, etc have never subscribed my write-up for an award but this is the one I asked oracle newspaper to subscribe for me though they did not do it. I said let me do this with my blog which is www.odogwublog.com and low and behold the blog clinched the prize for me being the third position out of the 720 applicants/ entries as said by the person that represented me at the event because I didnt have money for the impromptu journey.

Did you fancy your chances of winning the award considering the number of entries made?

No. I did not expect to win it because I did not prepare for it. Had it been that I prepared the way I should, I could have gotten something better. Besides, if one wants to win an award, he or she has to prepare very well in line with what they requested. On my own side, I did not prepare. I entered for the two categories out of the available three and luckily for me, I won in one of the two categories I chose. That means if I had prepared very well i could have gotten the first or second position but the third place is a blessing and a motivation for me. An international award is a motivation to whoever that wins it. It is the international award that I have been longing for.
When I got my Ph.D in print Journalism in 2019 and as an Editor, I said to myself that I have reached the zenith of where I was going. The next thing to go for is award whether it is academic or literary award. Anything that is intellectual I focus on it because before now I have received invitations to be honored in over three hundred organizations including the churches, international organizations like the Rotary Club, JCC, Lion club, religious bodies, students union, communities and local governments but I have turned all of them down not because of pride or about ego but because I felt it is not time for it.

How can you describe your lifestyle? They said a good journalist must be indulging in either alcohol , women or cigarettes? Which do you do? Are you into women?

You have known me in the last 10 years? If I am indulging it’s not hidden. So what’s your finding?

That’s why I asked you Sir because i couldn’t pin you with any?

Let me tell you, I have a lifestyle that is different from others. I do not do things because people expect me to do it for instance if somebody that is not up to seventy years dies, you don’t see me there eating or doing anything there with them. I would console them and even pay my condolence visit but I won’t eat anything there. I am not into women . I am not into drinking and I am not smoking. I was able to achieve a milestone as a journalist for being sober always. But, that is not to say i don’t love women. In fact, 60 percent of people close to me are women. I don’t know why men are always threatened by my presence. Those few who are not threatened are the 25 percent who are my friends. Other 15 percent or so don’t even like me at all. They either hate me for nothing or crucify me at any given opportunity for no justifiable reason, yet they pretend to be friends There are many things people expect me to do which I don’t do. It’s now that I am tempted to drink, and appreciate women excessively, having leant my lesson from the NUJ election. I nearly lost the election on my non association with women. Let me not go further. And my view of men, women relationship has changed. I used to think it was the highest sin ever but circumstances have made me view people indulging in it differently today unlike while growing up and while pursuing money. I know better today. But, its not the subject of our discuss.

What other things do people expect you to do which you don’t do?

A lot. I do not subscribe for awards. The only awards in my kitty are the ones that I accumulated before I graduated from the university. That was when I have not formed my life the way I wanted to but the ones on condolences was formed early enough even before my secondary school graduation. Having gotten my Ph.D, having gone so far in life, having been blessed all round by God Almighty, having been hired to be editors of two to three newspapers, I now said from 2020 henceforth I will target an international award and honours where it would be recorded that Dr Odogwu Emeka Odogwu JP has gone through this profession in time to come. Unfortunately, I had no time to push for it as I had wanted, but I am grateful for having something than nothing. You can see as a university teacher and union leader ,i have choked time to scout for stories that will win awards. My mentees shalll do better in that regards.

Let me shock you! I have been in Unizik for about 20 years now from PGD for 3 years, MSc 8 years and PhD 4 years plus 4 years now ,but I have never slept with any girl there either as a student or as a university teacher. And in journalism, I haven’t been named and shamed either. I nearly failed an election because of my misunderstood personality. Women even ganged up against me but I saw all that as election scheming. It’s over and we are together ,working for the interest of the Union. Going forward, I am better equipped to relate with anyone now than what was obtainable. And this may be the last I swear about my relationship with opposite sex. I have sworn for people when accused due to my closeness to some women. But, from today, it’s nobody’s business and I needed not swear to prove any point. I got to leave my life and face judgment when it’s time.

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Having been into writing for over 20 years, do you feel that writers face any challenge in Nigeria?

Yes! There are challenges facing writers in Nigeria. In fact the list is endless. You have challenge of concentration; people living in noisy environment can not concentrate to write,.hence the need for writers residency.
Lack of resources because one cannot write on empty stomach, environmental location is also a problem for writers. Almost every household uses generator which raises and causes distraction to the writers. Nigerian governments do not support writers in any way. But thank God we still strive to achieve the much we can, because truth be told, writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the rest of them made waves because they were or still abroad, tell me those within Nigeria making waves like them. But, we shall survive in the harsh condition like Prof Ezeigbo et all. I look up to them for inspiration and those who have made it in journalism like Toyesun, the Vice-President of the world editor’s forum, Chief Emma Agu, who gave me my first employment letter in the National Daily, Chief Chris Isiguzo, our WAJA and National President of NUJ , Chief Hon Tempest Udeze ,MD/CEO of National Link Newspapers Nnewi who gave me my first ID card as a Journalist among others. The cost of publishing is very high. I know I have written about ten novels but I cannot even publish because I don’t have money and nobody is ready to give me money. When I had money I wasn’t in the spirit. I used my youthful excesses in doing charity….building houses for people, buying fairly used car and supporting businesses as well as Education and other means of putting food on tables of many. Unfortunately, most of those I did this to are ungrateful and inconsiderate. Let me spare naming and shaming some of them who I did everything to make them smile and encouraged running into millions but when I had challenges in my profession including sack from my job lasting for over 10 years without a paid job, they all pretended I was a fool to make them stand against being self centered. On this part of the world, we do what we call perish publishing.

What advice do you have for upcoming writers and journalists?

Youths are the strength of journalism. I have been one of those championing for the mobilization of young people into journalism in Anambra state.I am still young and forty-Six last March 28 to say, but I have motivated more than fifty(50) people into active journalism. I won’t mention more than one thousand students that I have mobilized and motivated by my conducts, actions and even personally taking them out to put them in journalism from where ever they are. My mentees are so many in journalism and they are doing great. In the university, I have so many too that I have stopped accepting new ones to cope with the number I have already to be able to give them good guidance and networking strengths from the town and also gown .
In writing,even though I just have three books to my credit including My Dad, My Hero; Dangerous Adventure and a drama called Amanuke….a drama series. I have mentored five different authors who are already publishers and who have published works to their names and I still have twenty of them in line. So, I am one of those young people who believe in youths . If I have the opportunity, youths will be around me because they have the zeal, they have the motivation, they have the energy to drive if you give them the support and the needed level playing ground. I have done that for them that is why you see me with one youth or the other wherever I am. I am a member of the Young Writer’s Association of Nigeria led by award winning Izunna Okafor, Nigeria Union of Journalists Anambra state Council, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, led by Prof Angela Nkiru Nwammuo, Actors Guild of Nigeria , AGN led by Evangelist Leo Ewuzie , as well as African Council for Communication Educators, ACCE, Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) to mentionbut a few. I have practiced journalism in the past twenty years starting with ABS as freelance in 1999, and today an Editor of about 8 years. Haven’t I seen it all?

How can you compare journalism of those days and now?

Things have changed. Anybody that is still practicing journalism of those days is no longer a journalist, he is a carpenter because now is it the fastness of the digital world or the enablers of ICT that before you even move an inch, stories are already trending. Journalists now are not only digital savvy but tech savvy. They are now ICT compliant, now having everything at a go. Is it the Facebook that has helped? You can be in your room and be monitoring what is happening elsewhere; real time issues of what is happening there. Before 2002, there was no mobile communication but now you can use phone and communicate. You can contact somebody in another geographical area and write his opinion on an issue. If you are to go there, it is just to see things for yourself. You can follow issues up to a logical conclusion.
ICT has made journalism easier, better, enjoyable and wonderful but at the same time has brought competition between citizen journalists and conventional Jonalists because you are at a function, you are lazy and have not done your story to send to your office to publish online. One amateur citizen will just do whatever he wants to do, post it online and that is what will be trending. By the time you do your own, they will say you copied from him where as you are the conventional journalist paid to serve the public better as a member of the fourth Estate of the realm. So, it has re-awakened the promptness among journalists of today. Also, the good thing there is that those of us who would say ‘ we are not in the old order or new order’ are equally catching up. I know my colleagues in punch, Independent, Guardian, and some others who are in their late 50s and early 60s who are even doing better than some of the young people in the internet savvy. So ICT and social media have helped media practitioners more than ever but it has also affected adversely revenue generation and real time buying of newspapers. People no longer have the hunger to buy newspapers. Vendors are unhappy and complaining bitterly. I know a vendor who built a duplex from vending Newspapers and magazines but it’s impossible today.

As a university teacher, would you say Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Unizik is ready for unbundling of Mass Communication?

I have no speaking powers about Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka because I am neither the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Charles Okechukwu Esimone FAS, nor the Head of Department, Prof Cornelius Ukwueze, as well, neither the Dean of the Faculty, Prof Frank-Collins Okafor, nor the Director Public Relations of Unizik, Chika Eneh. However, let me speak as a Co-Chairman, Committee on Proposed Faculty building and Infrastructure needs of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The Chair of the Committee is Prof Kate Azuka Omenugha, an erudite scholar and former Commissioner for Education in Anambra state for 8 years. By that Committee alone, it shows the university and the department leadership are ready for the transformation.

Unbundling of Mass Communication entails creation of more definitive jobs and definitive job specifications for graduates of media and communication studies. Before now, thousands of people are lumped into one job specification called Mass Communication or Journalism or such names. But today, individuals can major in particular areas out of the 9 departments unbundling created.
Unbundling also means more jobs have been created in the job market for graduates and teachers alike. We now have film and multimedia studies as a department, meaning some people shall be employed to teach others and students specialize in the field to PhD level.

And in the professionalism, unbundling has created opportunities for some hitherto neglected professions to specialize and professionalize. And those already professionalized to have enough students graduating to nourish the union or professional body. And it makes room for people to reduce burden of being Jack of all trade from year one to maybe final year as it were in the past before choosing an area of specialization or even at Post Graduate level. Now, from year one ,you specialize and get focused, yet you still have an idea of all in your department.

It’s commendable. NUC as a regulatory body for universities simply latched on what is obtainable world over in the unbundling. Over there, people specialize in only graphics and have a PhD in graphics designs, but here we lumped everything together. So, it’s a good thing to still unbundle at a time like this. And I am sure both lecturers and students are excited even though there is no free lunch in Freetown. It requires money and new spirit to supritend.

Unizik shall unbundle soon because I understand the Vice Chancellor approved it’s immediate take off but probably resources and other logistics are bugging the unbundling. Once this issues are resolved, Unizik shall unbundle. Already there are strong voices in that regards.

Unizik has the manpower to host unbundling because already the lecturers there are in accordance to their areas of specialty. And each specialty if not complete has few hands to be complete circle of what is required.
University of Uyo has no structure close to what Unizik has but it has unbundled. So, unizik is ready and just putting finishing touches to announce it’s unbundling.

And on the insinuation of adverse effects. How can a good thought out program affect students and lecturers adversely? Not at all, it brings in professionalism. It creates opportunity for hands-on from students and creates champions early from the students.

Over the radio and television, it’s Odogwu this and that by the Prof Soludo led administration asking you to apologize for your write up on National Light,why was that? You didn’t verify beforehand or what? The news was trending everywhere?

Did you read my weekly Cornucopia on that, which necessitated the government reaction? If no, then no need speaking about that, but since you read it, you must have concluded. So what’s your conclusion?

. (interjects)…. I am interviewing you now Chairman, or have you turned to interview me ( laughter)

I have nothing to say to you more but let it be on record that there is nothing to apologize for. Hon Commissioner was put in a tight corner by his employers and he did what he got to do, defending the indefensible. I stood by my report on that episode as captured in my weekly Cornucopia. There was no line that was out of sync signaling insult or criticism. I was just appealing to Governor Soludo not to sack journalists and close their office for whatever it’s worth whereas he was been praised for employing other section of workers. And I didn’t stop there, I said if you must close down the National Light Newspaper office, redeploy the workers to the Ministry of Information and other Ministries. How does this constitute to insults or criticism to the government? That press statement by Hon Paul Nwosu, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment already viral exonerated me because it admitted the State Executive Council meeting were still deliberating on the National Light Newspapers issue. I did Investigative and interpretative journalism and they were busy shouting I got my information from the grapevine. That’s journalism. Any piece of information liked by those concerned is a PR material not journalism. Journalism is expository, solution oriented, development oriented and sometimes smashing the cover up.
Let me restate that it’s inhuman and wickedness of the highest order for government to .

What are your thoughts?

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