WHO says journalists are not true patriots? To reduce the question to our immediate clime, I should ask, who says Nigerian journalists are not the best species of the nation’s patriots?
While all known legal opinions group practitioners as the fourth estate of the realm, and are thus seen and regarded as positioned after the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary branches of government, Nigerian journalists have continued to demonstrate very rare qualities of responsible citizenship that can hardly be found in the genes, schedules and discharge of duties by other fellow countrymen and women.
For instance, in spite of the myriads of odds against professional journalism practice in this clime, we unearth otherwise hidden truths about how the state is run, by whom and for what purpose without the grandstanding and razzmatazz that the archetypical Nigerian politician loves to revel in. It also takes the patriotic disposition of the Nigerian journalism to surmount piles of hurdles deliberately mounted on his path to uncover the ruins many a public and private individual plot against the nation’s economy.
Or is it security issues? I am yet to see any Nigerian apart from the armed forces and security personnel who worry most about reporting on developments and canvassing measures on how to counter the threats.
I know very well too, that many of the positions canvassed by the Nigerian journalist have always constituted rich resources from which government and related policies are formulated. Just mention any aspect of our national life; the Nigerian journalist is out there doing something just to aid the betterment and progress of the nation. But do we get appropriately appreciated and rewarded for all these? I really do not think so.
Weeks ago, Nigerian journalists further underscored their sacrifice in demonstration for the love of the country and us all, when just in one assembly – the 12th All Nigerian Editors’ Conference that is – proffered workable strategies to re-engineer our economy and nationhood. That was in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
Yours sincerely was not there though, but like many of my ilk who were unavoidably absent at the august event, we agreed with the take of our colleagues that the current recession in the country notwithstanding, Nigeria’s economy can still stage a comeback if adequate attention is paid to the agricultural sector. The Editors equally noted that the sector is the most viable option for reviving the economy, creating employment and ushering in prosperity.
With the theme: Economic Diversification: Agriculture As Option For A Prosperous Nigeria, the conference noted that Nigeria’s economy is in crisis due to over dependence on oil and gas, and that the only credible panacea is diversification. Furthermore, the Guild observed that agriculture has suffered serious neglect as a result of negative mindset, reliance on outdated methods and underfunding.
It, therefore, urged government to evolve or strengthen policies that protect local farmers against the influx of foreign agricultural products, and encourage local production for food sufficiency and processing of raw materials for export, even as it called for skills needed for agricultural production to be stressed above mere certification, in order to redirect the consciousness of Nigerians, especially the youth, towards modern, technology-driven agriculture.
For a profession that does not lack in terms of expertise, the Editors went on to task government to recapitalise and make more functional the Bank of Agriculture and other institutions relevant to agricultural programmes. Accordingly, participants called for the formation of more farmers’ co-operative societies while those already in existence should be strengthened to improve their productivity. States were specifically encouraged to collaborate in agricultural production and processing.
That is the stuff the Nigerian journalist is made of: positively affecting, influencing and changing the nation and its economy for this generation and generations yet unborn.
Good enough, there were lots of goodwill messages from within and outside the country with an array of local and foreign speakers as well as editors from organisations such as West African Editors Forum, WAEF, African Editors Forum, TAEF, World Editors Forum, WEF, and World Association of Newspapers, WAN, at the Port Harcourt event.
Alas, even at that, not a few private and public figures still continue to see the Nigerian journalist as one individual whose presence around them spelt catastrophe. Instead of seeing and taking us as partners in charting a new course for the furtherance of the ideals of the founding fathers of this great nation, they relish in badmouthing us and calling us all kinds of derogatory names.
Not convinced? The proof you need is to find your way into the corridors of power or in the midst of the country’s policy moulders and hear what they think about the journalist in this part. There you will see many who cannot write a meaningful press statement but relish in castigating the Nigerian journalist either as press boys or rumour mongers. But I have since learnt to ignore such ignoramuses for they strive to push the journalist away to hide whatever it is they perceive they are doing against natural justice, equity and good conscience. That way, they compromise our collective dream for a greater nation.
Interestingly, when they bungle things around government or their corporate organisations, they run faster than Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in one of his record-shattering 100metres dash to media houses for some form of damage control. Question is, if you find the journalist so good, why not embrace him and give him the needed space to operate?
One more thing: I do not hesitate to tell many that I have their ears that at the table of patriotic Nigerians, the journalist stands tall. The reason is simple: he is a walking compendium of what is happening in the country; he knows what would be injurious to our collective good and so refrain from publishing same because, he is first a Nigerian before being a journalist.
But can we say same of our budget padding public and private servants? Can they really say they are more above board than the Nigerian journalist? I am not very sure.
Methinks that was the real message from the Port Harcourt event: trust the Nigerian journalist and his contributions to national goals.

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