We begin this journey of you and I, glued together in this space for a roller coaster. I am a lover of politics, not the murky one. At least we don’t have to faint or beg someone to off his microphone on this page. I am a lover of this nation, strong shall we get and top most of them all ! a proud Imolite. We embark on this political adventure from here to ad infinitum. It is okay to accept that politics in Nigeria would always be dirty, even far away from the streets of politics, you will still get splashed. Welcome to Nigeria! We are part of the problem; we all are part of the solution also. It is simply our choice to pick. We cannot just exempt our roles in the result we see every day called Nigeria. From the teacher who will keep some marks for himself for students not to get a good grade down to the person who increased the price of surgical face mask during the lockdown down to transport workers who are changing fa res depending on their mood. Just like popular Comedian Broda Shaggi, “even ordinary ball is affected by the Corona”. It is our cross to bear and we should all bow our head in shame where we have found ourselves as a nation.
For a long while after the video of what transpired in Calabar Cross River, between former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani Kayode and Eyo Charles a journalist, the mirror has become my abode, what is my identity again? The line between the rich and poor is very obvious in our nation. One order has the exclusive right to look down on the opposite as slaves. Nat taking away the fact that politicians are humans too, we will not overlook what provocation can cause to a being and the fact that once in a blue moon, people let their guard down. No one deserved to be taken to the cleaners in that way and manner. Events like these play a lot of mental games for a long time in the victim’s head. Time has come when we need to put mental health as a major health hazard in our country. His manhood was battered helplessly. I am sure, it would be called a defamation of character if a politician was the target of such verbal abuse.
We would have been counting the many millions that was to redeem his damaged image before the public. I take more offence against his colleagues whom all they could do was to constantly apologize to “the king”, more was really expected. We acknowledge that it was not a deliberate act but to plead to him at that moment is a low brainer. I asked myself, what they could have done in that situation, taking into account what was to be lost or gained if FFK ego is not massaged. a lot actually than apologizing. Keeping mute was a matured approach, it is always strategic in handling situations like this, it is a gentleman’s position. We have got to learn what support system to a colleague is at moments when the need us. There was never a better moment to be there for Eyo Charles than then. He was at the mercy of a stronger force, armed with his pen against power wealth and affluence. Is the pen mightier than power? It is on record that the attack on pressmen and women have been an almost every day attack, politicians and men of affluence have continued to use them as a stepping mat to march on.
According to the Amnesty International report ‘Endangered Vo ices’ attack on freedom of expression in Nigeria’, at least 19 journalists, bloggers and media practitioners have been subject to attacks between January and September 2019. These range from physical attacks, verbal assaults, death threats, surveillance, and indiscriminate detention to pressure to reveal sources, mostly perpetrated by Nigerian security forces. This is alarming for a profession that has sacrificed time and commitment to deliver credible information for the good of the nation. They deserve better! We don’t need to over flog the importance of this timeless profession.
That is a story that we have to discuss perhaps with a keg of palm wine. We have joined in #blacklifematter via various social media platform and had open discussions regarding the death of George Floyd and many other inhumane attacks on blacks in foreign countries, we have been vocal in the fight against racism especially towards the black community. Perhaps, we need to come home and trash our issues because there are many of them, police brutality, unjustified court sentence, corruption, oppression, bad leadership to mention but for a few. We are all witnesses to the power of information in solving issues like this. The protection of pressmen and women should be primary. The story of Precious Owolabi, a trainee journalist for Channels TV who died of injuries sustained by live ammunition while covering a protest organized by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) on 22nd July 2019, during which also eleven protesters and a police officer died is still very much fresh in our memory. Femi Kayode verbal attack on Eyo Charles directed us to our wound scars and should be frowned upon. We need to protect this profession for the safety of the nation. Not just physical protection but their mental state. We cannot entirely condemn people in power, there have been laudable moments but more have to be done. There should be a telepathic understanding between them and that can be achieved if we see each other as human first before our social status.
It is a good foundation to a lot of mutual understanding between politicians and journalists. We need to accords the same respect we give to the international folks in the journalism profession to the ones we have here. Is same career path, exposure have nothing on anyone. To our pressmen fact is necessary tool to life, we also need to earn our respect and keep it intact. It is an honorable path and we should not allow the brown envelope to define our actions.