That same Tuesday Amore delivered devastating low blows on Nigerian journalists on Police Diary, a few hours after the radio programme a leading character in the Nigerian maritime industry launched his own unwarranted attack on the Nigerian press, notably the maritime beat. In the strongly-held and loudly-proclaimed opinion of the outgoing National President, Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, Capt. Thomas Kemewerigha, journalists in Nigeria are promoting piracy and sea robbery in Nigerian waters through their robust reportage of illegalities in the nation’s waters.
On the sidelines of the Stakeholders Sensitisation/Consultative Forum 2012 on the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Operations in Nigeria by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and held Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at the Nigerian Maritime Resource and Development Centre (NMRDC), Kirikiri, Lagos, where he made the remarks before the full house, I told the respected mariner pointedly that I disagreed with him; that the press observes and reports on unfolding newsworthy events, including the criminalities in Nigerian waters. That the press does not make the news, but only gathers and peddles the news. I still strongly disagree with Kemewerigha, not even after a lengthy interview with him two days after that forum and he sought to elaborate his viewpoint.
Another person that I am disagreeing strongly with over the same issue is Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Sunny Ogoh. On Thursday, March 22, 2012, Ogoh told participants at A One-Day Stakeholders’ Forum on the Draft Piracy and Other Unlawful Acts at Sea Bill, which held at the Multi-Purpose Hall, NMRDC, Kirikiri, Lagos, that the overwhelming Nigeria media coverage of piracy is encouraging illegalities in the nation’s waters. In the wise opinion of the legal (not media) practitioner, these reports serve to expose the huge sums of money and other valuables garnered in attacks or through ransom demands by pirates, and, according to him, are a veritable lure for more persons to stream to join and continuously boost their ranks.
Naturally, I strongly subscribe to the free expression of opinions, a trait that my years in active journalism have amplified so very much.
Ogoh, however, stretched the elasticity of logic to illogical limits when he averred that the nation’s maritime industry evolves a certain body to help check the alleged excessive reportage of criminalities in our waters.
I really would want to take on Ogoh and his ilk the more, but I simply would wish to extend an invitation through this medium, requesting Ogoh and all other interested parties to attend a one-day workshop on The Impact of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011 on the Maritime Industry: Issues and Perspectives, being organised by the recognised umbrella association of accredited journalists covering the maritime beat, the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN). Venue, date and time are as follows: MARAN Press Centre, Secretariat, Atlantic House, 26/28, Wharf Road, Apapa, Lagos, on Thursday, April 26, 2012, commencing 10.00am. I humbly extend this invitation on behalf of MARAN as the Chairman, Organising Committee, FoI Workshop.
No doubt, some of you would conclude that the FPRO, the appointed official spokesperson of the Nigeria Police, may be becoming a recurring decimal in this column. It is if he continues to play my muse with every outing on Police Diary.
Amore did not disappoint this Tuesday, April 2, 2012, as I put this column together. Responding to enquiries by the anchorperson, Nura Mohammed, concerning the reported alleged shooting of a woman in the neck by a Policeman in Minna, Niger State, the FPRO said that he was only just then learning of the incident on the programme. He went on to explain that Police regulations were clear about the misuse of firearms by the personnel, and that a number of Police personnel had been convicted, including those given death sentences, over this. Trust the Police image maker, he took the proceedings to the realm of media bashing, as he noted that journalists do so much damage in misinforming the mass of the people, while damaging the character of the party in the particular story. From his tones, the FPRO sees corrigenda by newspapers are mere afterthoughts; incapable in his estimation of repairing the incalculable damage done by the original report. The FPRO barely came short of matching the dastardly works of killer-cops to such reports.
Journalism practice could almost be discouraging, going by these unwarranted attacks by those merely seeking to hug the headlines at the expense of the noble profession.
Thankfully, certain persons tow an opposite line to this ilk. Such a person is Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, NIMASA, Honourable Ibrahim Zailani. An amiable fellow, Zailani honours the press and the practitioners of the profession whenever the opportunity presents itself.
The one-time House of Representatives member was in his element Thursday, March 27, 2012, where he represented the NIMASA Director-General, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, at the same forum where Ogoh took his cheap shots at the press. That day, Zailani enthusiastically recognised and paid great tribute to the position of the press, the Fourth Estate of the Realm, as the “FourthArm of the Government.” Not for this former Federal lawmaker and one-time Commissioner in Bauchi State, the usual half-hearted acknowledgement of “Gentlemen of the Press” by speakers in their addresses at public fora.
It was the same cascade of encomiums for the press from Zailani at the NIMASA-organised Stakeholders’ Sensitisation/Consultative Forum2012 on the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Operations in Nigeria.
Sure, it is easy to excuse Zailani’s passion for the press to his vocation as a politician, but this position promptly dissolves in a puff because of the fact that there are politicians who give scant notice to the press, except their precious posts or ambitions are under siege, real or presumed.
I am only barely acquainted with Zailani, but the few times I have had close encounters with him, the ebullient lawyer rhas been most gracious, knowing one was a journalist. He has never granted me an interview, though.
As Fuji star, K1 The Ultimate, put it in song: Eni ti oba pon wa le, la wa ma pon le … Eni ti oba yinmu si wa, la awa yinmu si … Oro mba oro bo…
Therefore, I will say to Zailani: Go on sohun! Jide ka iji! Eziokwu bu ndu! Gaskiya tafi kwabo! Allah ya kareka da yali!
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