OPINION

Is Nigeria Becoming an Editor’s Nightmare or a Breaking News?

By Pat Uchendu

I have never pretended to be a journalist, because I am not. Training and learning should rightly confer that profession on me. That is proper and acceptable. However, I never knew I could so write until the many desperate situations in Nigeria placed me on call from the talent that was rather latent and quasi, to always have my opinion on issues. But then many people are like me – a generation of quasi journalists made so by social media.

It gladdens my heart though that my daughter will fill up that side of me, lost in the confusion of choosing a course of study. And in fullness of time, on account of her academic discipline, manifest that inherent ability to perform certain roles of a mass cummunicator, right from when she was about five years. So her part seems to have been made clearer and as she grew through secondary school she had a tinge of direction for her academic preferences as I sat her down one day and asked what she wants to be. Without a whiff of hesitations she gave it straight to me: “Daddy I want to study mass comm”, was all she said.

I wouldn’t remember the first day I read a newspaper. It was in my elementary school, as it was called then. At the time I remember it was Daily Times, and if you read it as a primary (elementary) school pupil and recounted the story to your father or elder, you were considered a kid on a freeway to progress. In those days, elders who were illiterate would buy newspapers and ask any bright lad around to read and tell them the story! That was how they read the papers they bought. That was the world I came into; that was a kind, pleasant and happy world!

My interest in anything in print continued beyond my textbooks in the secondary school and the University. Then the Guardian Newspaper had landed. It was everything a sound newspaper would be, but the best for me was The Guardian on a Sunday. It was literally a steak that I would devour with relish till a Tuesday of the week, before it found a safe place in my collection as a reference and research material. Indeed I was financially liquid as a student then and I brought newspapers on order from the ever present vendors on campus. But how financially buryant was one? It was easy; deny yourself a pair or two pairs of new trousers, costly perfume or roll on and deny some girls the pleasure of your company at the school canteen and eatry. Those indulgences go beyond mere bottle of coke and shot bread biscuits. Then news about Nigeria and the world were sweet and encouraging to mankind. They were about advances and breakthroughs.

The likes of Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpo, Dan Agbese and Uzor Maxim Uzoatu filled the tabloids. And Maxizim who I read as a phenomenon or a spirit being with ink and paper on a writer’s desk would later become my friend and played a vital happenstance in the life of one of the greatest writers of this generation, in the person of Tai Emeka Obasi. It’s a big sweet story for another time.

And today it would appear like all the bright brains in the world of journals in Nigeria have been rubbished by a terrible virus that is the Nigerian State itself. And you begin to wonder what our editors in the newsroom would be doing in a kaleidoscope of violence, uncertainties, fears, rumours, drums of war and war itself altering his headlines every hour and minute as terrible news envelop Nigeria.That Nigeria is witnessing the kind of uncertainty not even known during her civil war is not surprising.

It is now clear that some Nigerians used their voters cards in 2015 to plant a tree that was watered by, as apparently, annoying shouts of meaningless mantra called change and next level. But the petals of that tree is still unfolding under the photosynthesis made possible and rich by this government.

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Everyday, virtually every hours news of killings, abductions, gun shots, arson, rape, murders and other bizarre things crack up like the cacophony sounds of pop corn unevenly scorched under open burners.

Where does the ear turn today without ugly tales. In the north, it has become as common as the rise of the morning sun. Down south, it is permeating and assuming a frightly dimension and possibly moving into a gorilla struggle. Elsewhere, it is as effervescent as the fluorescent light.

Today the question on everyone’s lips is: what is happening? A question asked to no person in particular. Who do you even ask? Is it your neighbour or friend that would throw the question to you even before you ask? Is it our political leaders who are confused, or the head of governments including the President who finds the situation as the new normal.

Who then should envy an editor in a Nigeria of today. His pen may have lost its ball point spilling ink on his papers as he jumps from casting a breaking news to making Nigeria herself the breaking news.

In all that I care, it is still one question that I always asked which some people laugh at its comic side. But I will still ask it one more time, because only those who understand the import know how loaded the question is.

The question is: Nigeria where is your mother?

To give an inkling to that question and to those who take it on its elementary shell, the question is about how we became and the grounds we became. It’s either we find that answer or we keep living on the rhetorics about what is happening!

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