By David Augustine
One of the comments that trailed my one-liner on Comrade Ini Ememobongs recent gift of land documents to ten Akwa Ibom people, some of them journalists, was a terse “Na Wao!, Dave even you”? It was an unspoken rebuke that I shouldnt have eulogized the young man for the kind gesture he extended to those who have helped him succeed in his role as the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State.
There were other such comments, with one questioning the capacity of a journalist who had received such gift to practice objectively. Some even insinuated that public funds are used on a few. These comments are expected in a society now sharply divided by political loyalties and sensibilities.
As one who has been in journalism for a while, I think I can defend my choice to praise Ini for what he has done for those who have worked closely for him in his public relations duty for his party. If you have been long enough in this practice here, you will understand why Ini is being praised by a bipartisan spread of journalists and non journalists.
If you have had some very terrible experience with some politicians’ media minders, you will also join those of us who appreciate what Ini has been doing. I will recall a few of my own personal experiences. A much respected politician once gave me an advertorial to publish in some state based newspapers. The advertorials were duly published and accounted for. Before the money was paid [this particular politician is a man of his words, he always pays], I had left the state for the Law School. One day while in school, a call came from the politicians media minder that he had received N600, 000, being payment for all the adverts placed in about six newspapers from oga. I asked him to transfer the money to me so that I could make transfers to other beneficiaries. Days later when I did not hear from him again, I called and he told me that he had applied the money to another use and that he would get back the money and pay. As I write this, he has not paid and I am sure he must have forgotten about it. Imagine what would have become of me if the publishers did not trust me enough to bear with me on the issue. Make no mistake, he still has the capacity to touch those who were there and assisted him in his work, but he is not Comrade Ini Ememobong and so you could not expect such generosity from him. He not only could not give a hand, he even took the little that belonged to publishers who were carrying out legitimate assignments for his principal.
Another one used to bring sponsored articles, promising that when it gets better he would make up for the assistance. He was later to become a media aide. He will proceed to collect advert copies from his principal and after publishing full page adverts, he would pay N50, 000 for a page of colour advert. I refused to collect and that was how he forgot all the free publications that threw him up for the position he had. That is the picture of the average media minders among us. So when you see an Ini Ememobong, or a Michael Bush, managing the media and doing their things the way they do, it elicits some form of excitements among those who have had a taste of the worse side of this practice.
They exist, media minders who are incurably greedy and sadistic, who would come with adverts consistently pay half and promise to pay the balance and that would be the end. So to find an Ini Ememobong that would recognize those who have made him succeed is a rarity that must be commended.
As for the issue of objectivity, that is a hypocritical question because we all know that political office seekers make funds available for publicity. The case, however, is that greedy persons close to them simply collect such funds and disappear. They promise you great things when heaven comes down, meanwhile they enjoy the funds for such publicity even before the approach of heaven.
Comrade Ini Ememobong has no green biro, he has no red biro of approvals, which means that whatever he gives, he gives from what he was given. He has no budgetary allocations, yet he gives from the little he is given. He gives because he is human. He could easily, as other have done in the past and some are still doing, have gone ahead and build houses and drive state of the art cars. It is in this state that some became so rich that they started importing girl friends from Brazil and South Africa, yet people who worked with them or worked for them languished in penury. Some of the beneficiaries of Ini’s benevolence can afford the cars they get or the land they received, but the gesture is touching and must never be denigrated.
Thank you Comrade Ini Ememobong. You are not like them. They wish they could be like you, but the spirit of “aka” gun would never allow them. Timi keep doing good and God will continue to bless you abundantly.