My former boss, and one of the most disciplined and practically-unassuming General Managers I’ve had the privilege of working with, Mr. Dagogo Ezekiel-Hart, once said that, as a journalist, the most important thing required of you is to ensure that you do your bit by submitting your stories when due.
“Even if you have to die, submit the story first, then you can die”, he would often emphasise.
Anyone who chooses to take his words by its surface meaning would waste no time in declaring him a sadist, one who doesn’t care about the life of his staff. But to those who understand the demands of journalism, it is easy to understand where he was coming from.
The truth is that it was Mr. Ezekiel-Hart’s way of saying that journalism, like every other profession, has its own hazards, and this has to do with the fact that no matter what happens, the readers want to see your newspaper on the newsstand when it should be there. They don’t want to know what the staff went through to ensure that the newspaper makes the newsstand early.
Essentially, if the newspaper is not on the newsstand when it should, it has failed in the business of newspapering. Same thing goes for other media of mass communication. Interestingly, these hazards may differ according to country in terms of application, but they are, to a reasonable extent, standard globally.
Indeed, every profession has its hazard, which is why for anyone to succeed in it, he/she has to accept the hazard(s) for what they are. If not, the person will most likely end up giving excuses for failures, or incapability.
The police, for instance, have their own hazards. One of such is to operate with a consciousness that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, especially in a democracy. In keeping to this, they often face the possibility of losing their lives if they apply the same consciousness to a criminal pretending to be innocent, which is common.
So, for the Nigerian Police, it’s safety first; he has to guide himself by first deciding that his suspect is guilty immediately he (the policeman) decides so.
The result is that an accused, or suspect, is usually given the guilty treatment until proven innocent, usually not without parting with money, if for nothing, to ensure that the matter for which the person is accused is thoroughly looked into, or given attention.
Of course, this does not mean that the Nigerian Police cannot work when it really wants to. Take the case of Ifeanyi Dike, the ritualist who murdered a five-year old girl in Port Harcourt, only to escape from police custody. The then Police Commissioner took it as a challenge, and soon, Ifeanyi was caught in Jos, Plateau State.
Meanwhile, there are so many unresolved murder cases in Nigeria, for which investigation is still being carried out to bring the culprits to book.
In the same vein, the major hazard inherent in Nigerian politics is the supremacy of the chief executive, or whatever name he goes by, and at whatever level. It is such that whatever is the will of the chief executive, whether it is self-imposed or not, can be given reason to exist.
This, to a large extent, is the reason something can be right at one time, and be wrong at other times, depending on who is involved. It’s also why all and sundry seek the office of the chief executive at whatever cost. For, in addition to the power which the office confers, it’s the only position that guarantees impunity in its entirety.
In fact, when you’re the chief executive, you cannot be wrong. No matter how glaring your wrong may be, it can be explained away in the same way you blow off a candle. The worst that can happen is rantings from those who see the wrongness of the issue.
And, anyone who takes the rantings too far will most likely be visited with any other hazard(s), which will also be explained away, and so on. The only time it can be different is if the person involved is also a chief executive in his/her own right.
This seems to explain why somebody can be declared guilty of corruption, for instance, when the person belongs to another party, and the matter dies naturally immediately the person decamps to the party of the chief executive.
In the same way, as long as the one is in the party of the chief executive, no harm can come to him. But if he chooses to cross-carpet, the perceived skeletons in his cupboard must find their way out.
Almost every week, particularly as the February 2019 elections draw closer, Nigerians are exposed to one form of political hazard or the other. The most recent ones that have raised a lot of eyebrows being Mr. President’s refusal to assent to the amended Electoral Act, with the explanation that it is capable of disrupting the electoral system that is already on, and, hence, the peace in the country.
The other one is the call for the arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged non-declaration of assets, as a public servant. In the eyes of the powers that be, the disturbance this is causing is normal for the fight against corruption. On the other hand, the disturbance supposedly likely to be caused by a change in the porousness of the Electoral Act which will relatively further institute free and fair elections in Nigeria, is not good for the polity, because the Chief Executive feels so. Who did this to Nigeria?