Imo Government, the Media and Opposition


By: Henry Ekpe

Governments everywhere in the world are not the same. This is because every system has its own way of doing things. That is why political parties have different manifestoes and ideologies.
In Imo State, we have had civilian Governors  namely Chief Sam Mbakwe, Senator Evan Enwerem, Chief Achike Udenwa, Dr Ikedi Ohakim, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and now Senator Hope Uzodinma, in that order.
Obviously, these Governments had their different peculiarities and operated varied styles in pursuing their different policies.
But despite these differences, there are certain factors that must obtain in every elected Government.
They are the Media and Opposition. The two also exist in the Three Arms of Government, namely the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.
The opposition is made up of those not in tandem with the Government in power and operates as a check on the ruling Government. It could be populated with both politicians and non politicians and citizens, whose concern is how to make the Government in power to do the right thing for the people.
But in most cases, Governments in power see opposition as a stumbling block to its progress, and headache that must be cured with any type of medication.
But this type of approach to opposition is mostly witnessed in our clime, where an elected Governor or President sees himself as a Deity, whose words are laws that must not be questioned.
However, this situation is determined by the temperament and character of the one in power and those surrounding him/her. But however way the person in authority tries to subdue the opposition, it remains the right of the opposition to speak out, because it is a duty in a democratic system.
Then, the Media serves both those in power and in opposition. It is the channel through which both ventilate their joy and anger, depending the circumstances.
While naturally, the Government in power prefares a Press that sings its praises, whether it is doing well or not, the opposition wants the Press to continue to condemn the Government in power, whether it does good or not.
Therefore, it is now the duty of the Press to strike a balance between the two “Forces” by remaining steady in informing the poor masses of the goings-on, based on verifiable facts, without minding whose OX is gored.
But in most cases, no matter what you inform the populace, the Press still remains a target. The reason is because when a good story is published, those in favour of it praise the Press to high heavens, and those it was “against” even though it was a fact, plot against either the Reporter or the Media House.
This situation leaves Journalists as endangered species on a Thankless job.
I have been to Police and DSS Detentions several times. I have been kidnapped and was heading for the execution spot when God led me to jump out from the vehicle. I have escaped various attempts on my life. All for the course of pursuing my genuine means of livelihood: Journalism.
And one shocking thing about these encounters was that, the stories that led to all these hazards, were facts, but never were written by me but by others, and I had to go through the pains because I was the Editor.
I sign the Newspapers, and therefore must face the consequences, which is the reason as the “Gate Keeper”, you must be vigilant what enters into your Newspapers. However in most cases, no matter how careful you are, a “Crafty Reporter” may still slip in a “dangerous” material when you had left.
This brings me to the situation faced by the Media in Imo State since the present administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma.
Whether anybody accepts it or not, what seem to dominate the news around the world concerning Imo State recently were the issues of “Media Crisis” in the State.
Unfortunately, those in charge of the Governor’s Media will not agree with me, yet the make Press Releases everyday about the ugly scenario.
And I see the whole matter, as a result of mismanaged good will, and overzealousness, caused by the legendary attitude of our people by mistaking a Government appointment as conferring in you the know-it-all Brian.
No one, including Presidents, are above mistake. And experience cannot be purchased in Super Market.
There was the case of Bar Mrs Vivian Oti, a staff of Imo State owned Imo Broadcasting Cooperation, who made a costly Civil Service mistake by posting her ordeal of non- payment of salaries on Social Media.
But unfortunately, two wrongs can never make a right. Reason being that her employers mismanaged the situation, and she gained empathy from the masses.
And I was surprised because the same Vivian Oti, was one of the major projectors of the Governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration on Face Book.
The Vivian issue dominated the airwaves to the extent that all that mattered in the State became Vivian Oti, shutting off all the positive actions of the Government within that period.
Before the Vivian Oti matter could rest, the Directorate of State Security Service DSS picked Ambrose Nwogwugwu, the Director General of the Imo PDP New Media.
For a week now, Nwogwugwu has become the burning issue, as the discussion in Imo remains when he would be released or charged to court than the various road constructions, and inspectation of projects embarked by the Governor and his officials.
While Imo people were still waiting for the outcome of the Nwagwugwu saga, another problem over-shaddowed the decampment of Imo PDP elements to the APC.
This was because, at the venue of the much hyped occasion, a Journalist, Fenian Chuck, was assaulted by some people described as thugs, or loyalists to Hon Kingsley Ibe from Obowo State constituency.
In the Media, rather than celebrate the movement of Imo PDP members to APC, what became the topic was how the journalist was battered by APC thugs.
A few days after, a Commissioner from Obowo, Dr Fabian Ihekwem held a peace parley where Ibe and Chucks were said to have been reconciled.
But hours later, stories were flying everywhere that the Reconciliation carried out by Chucks and Ibe was a sham.
Before that news could die down, for the first time in Imo State, Journalists trooped out on a demonstration exercise to the Imo House of Assembly demanding for Kennedy Ibe’s head. But some of his colleagues addressed the enraged Journalists who were later calmed down.
While that was still raging, the Management of Imo State owned Owerri Capital Development Authority, OCDA, stormed Ikenegbu Area of Owerri, asking everybody where they could locate TRUMPETA NEWSPAPER office. They did not hide it. They specifically came for the Newspaper House.
Before they arrived with two Buses loaded with fierce-looking men and some security personnel, we ordered our workers to go home, and hurriedly shut the office for the day.
When they arrived in Gestapo and commando style, and met no staff, they combed the entire premises, and left an inscription on the wall “show-your permit within 7 Days”.
However, a lot of people have been making various comments saying that it was nothing other than to present the permit of the building which was seen as a routine in the Agency.
But we are not fools. There is more than meets the eye in this situation. Why was OCDA asking the premises of TRUMPETA NEWSPAPER? Why was it that it was only the building Housing TRUMPETA of over five hundred buildings on that street that was marked?
Why is it that every ruling Government in Imo State sees TRUMPETA NEWSPAPER as opposition an Newspaper?  Is it because of its Editorial contents that says the truth?
But open the Newspaper every day you will see stories from Government of the day and all political parties in the State.
Before now, a Senior member in the present administration had threatened me on Record, that by the time he finishes with me, both me and TRUMPETA would not be found in Imo State.
I posted that threat on the Facebook and recorded it and handed over to my Lawyer for keeps. And my family is also aware.
Let me state that closing TRUMPETA NEWSPAPER or putting its Publishers “out of circulation” as threatened by this Government Agent, will not solve any problem because what the Newspaper reports is the action of others, which have never been denied, and therefore Trumpeta does not manufacture stories. We report what others do.
When you close TRUMPETA, you have sent Eleven Young married men out of job. With about Eleven young Ladies making their living from there to the street. What of the Printers, vendors, agents, paper materials and plate sellers?
For starters, Newspaper companies in Imo State are the second largest employers of labour after the State Government. But each Government in the State treats Newspapers and their Publishers as waste papers.
TRUMPETA gives all people the opportunity to ventilate their views without maligning any party or inciting the people against any Government.
For instance, the present Commissioner for information and Strategy. Hon Mbadiwe Emelumba had on two occasions woken up TRUMPETA Publishers in the dead of the Night to help him place stories.
We will stop press, return to office, put on the generator, destroy the films and produce fresh one. And what were all the stories about? The present Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma when he was in Court. And we did not collect a kobo for all these stresses. Go and ask.
The Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General Bar COC Akolisa cannot give interview to TRUMPETA except through me. I will leave my seat as the Editor-in-chief and go to his office. And he is a delight to interview any day because he shoots straight.
There was one interview he granted TRUMPETA on a former Governor of the State that nearly landed the Newspaper in trouble.
It was through TRUMPETA that Fabian Ihekwem’s “Shaddow Government” gained prominence because we believed there must exist a vibrant opposition in Imo State at all times. But he now gives order like a General on parade Ground. He directly told me he will jail me.
Well, if the situation has now changed because all these guys are now in power there is nothing one can do but to pray and watch, because no Empire lasts forever.
As far as I am concerned, I have paid my dues in Imo Journalism, and have projected the political growth of nearly all the former, present and future Governors of Imo State.
I have known them for years, and has remained a professional which is the reason no one had dragged me or the company to court till date. I am not a criminal and                engage in legal Business of Newspaper Publishing.
TRUMPETA was established as a business outfit. To serve the people, devoid of political, Religious or social affiliation. And if is on the course of this that I am targeted, let me pay the price