ON Thursday, June 6, I clocked 16 years of active service both as an insider and observer at the chambers of the National Assembly of Nigeria. I would have loved to celebrate that day with some beautiful rendition of the valedictory speeches, the back-slapping and effusive displays that usually characterize that day. I have really grown used to the chambers all along and to political reporting, which has become a way of life. We call the senior hands in legislative reporting Distinguished at the Gallery.
That day, however, I was away in Ibadan, Oyo State. Governor Seyi Makinde had on Monday, June 3, named me the Chief Press Secretary in his office.
That is a different kettle of fish, a different kind of service. It’s about reporting but many choose to call it reporting from the other side of the divide. I see it as reporting for a cause, rather than just reporting from the other flank. Governance is about service delivery to the people. It is about development and positive preservation of existential issues around a geographical spread and constituency. It’s all about the people. On both sides, of the journalistic divide, the people remain the focus.
But the reality is that I will be away from the ‘madness’ of the newsroom and nearer the turf of politics, where uncertainties, love, and treachery cohabit. I will also be away from this page, The Lynx-Eye, which we have used to dissect political trends in our polity since 2012. By the way, I have been attached to that name since university days, in Ibadan, when we established an investigative magazine called The Lynx. I will miss my readers, who engage me on the topics of the week. Many of them look forward to the column. Each time I go missing on the page, due to exigencies of work, I get text messages, calls and emails. ‘We didn’t see you this week.’ Some readily offer story ideas, just to show the passion with which our people take the question of growth and development. I will greatly miss the camaraderie and bond we have formed. It’s going to be a great miss, but I believe that the service I have taken time off to undertake would more than compensate for the misses.
As a young reporter in The NEWS and Tempo Magazines, I’ve always been passionate about political trends. I was saddened at the temerity of the military to annul the free and fair June 12, 1993 election won by the late Chief MKO Abiola. I was appalled by the shenanigans that were ushered in by politicians, in the aftermath; the bad politics that was championed by the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). And so, I joined up with the “Guerilla” Journalism fad of that era. It was sweet and nice as we waded through difficult challenges without identity cards or any form of recognition.
I‘ve always believed that politics is the medium through which an individual can impact millions of people positively. Unfortunately, the same politics can also be used to impoverish millions. That is why some people call it dirty. But it is a necessary evil.
That is also the more reason why good spirited citizens must keep close tabs on politics and the character of persons it empowers. When a good man gets to power, he delivers the goods and earns some praise. When a not so good leader assents the seat of power, (or whether he is a good man that got derailed by some evil cabal), the people suffer. Debts pile up and stagnation in growth would be the return on investment.
And having carefully watched the new governor of Oyo state, Engineer Makinde, his personal successes and his disposition to life, I believe he is a good man that will deliver the goods. The entire Oyo State also felt the same as the loudly expressed their preference for him on March 9. So, I have no reservations, stepping aside from this page to take up the job of communicating his policies, programmes , and actions to the people of Oyo State and world beyond. As much as I would miss the newsroom, I have come to the realisation that the assignment set for me by Governor Seyi Makinde is a task that must be done.