Let me start this piece by deviating a bit before coming to the main menu. Reason for this deviation will become clear shortly as we go further in this discussion.
Frankly speaking, one potent force which many people do not take seriously is the issue of perception. This is a terrible human psycho-social phenomenon which can distort positive dispositions and lead to wrong judgment or even wrong action in many cases. Let me explain with two personal examples.
At a wedding ceremony I attended in Enugu recently, I met a friend I had not seen for over four years. We were not talking on phone because as we discovered later both of us lost our phone numbers which we exchanged. Before we went into the hall, we engaged on general discussions but suddenly, as if stung by a bee, he said, “Sam, it is like Governor Ugwuanyi has recruited you to shower praises on him in the national papers?”
I was taken aback and asked what he meant. “In your recent article on his 53rd birthday and the two previous ones I read, it was praise galore for the governor. That is why I was thinking he has recruited you either directly or indirectly and luckily we meet today so I have to find out”, was his response. I asked him if there is anything wrong in writing good of a public officer who is performing well in his administrative duties. He said no. I told him that he has judged himself but assured him that I had not been recruited by anybody directly or indirectly to praise the governor more so, as he has aides employed to manage his media interest.
Barely a week later, I met another friend, a former roommate at Alvan Ikoku Hall, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). Since we left the University over 28 years ago, we have not seen each other. He is an Engineer and now CEO of his own engineering company operating in the South-East. As we went on discussing, he again asked me “Sam, as a senior journalists and media consultant, why is it that journalists in this country would not write any good thing about anybody unless money exchanged hands?
He further explained that whenever they invited journalists for press tour, his PRO would demand some money for invited journalists. I was a bit unsettled by this second encounter by a roommate of 3 years and a friend then. I asked him if his company had been delivering quality jobs, he said yes. If they had tried not giving out money after such invitation and journalists who attended refused to write their reports or wrote bad reports against them, he said no. “Why do you reach such conclusion and generalization?” I enquired furiously. He apologized and said it was wrong perception.
I told him I have never met Governor Ugwuanyi personally though, I have written good commentaries about him based on his good work. I told him that even a letter I wrote for the attention of the governor, I had to pass it through the official channel and over four weeks then (and even now), I am yet to get a reply. That if I had been ‘recruited’, I would have simply booked appointment to see him and discuss the content of the letter with him before handing it over.
I had to recount these issues because of the effect perception on human thinking and actions. But the fact remains that Governor Ugwuanyi ‘recruited’ me by his wonderful achievements in his developmental strides in Enugu state since he came to power. As the Chairman of Amurri Unity Forum, a non-political organization in Nkanu West of Enugu state, that brings well placed indigenes from the four autonomous communities together after they were divided to handle common issues affecting them, I wrote my first article in the paper last November, drawing the attention of His Excellency to the terrible state of our only access road to the town.
Swiftly, he visited the communities and promised to award contract on the road, the first by any chief executive who had governed the state. Apart of this demonstration of good leadership to my people, the Governor is regarded as one of the best in the country today. He spreads development across the state to the admiration of the people. He is one of the few governors that have been paying salaries and pensions as at when due in the country. He does not make empty promises like some politicians in this country. Enugu state workers gave him award recently as the most worker-friendly governor since the creation of the state.
In spite of lean resources, he has been doing his best to move Enugu State forward. He is humane and caring, friendly and God fearing, humble to the core, always smiling but firm in doing the right thing. He is regarded as a good man by majority of our people. He is not perfect as only God is infallible. Because of this, he needs not bother about his political future in the state. Enugu state people will surely identify with him when the chips are down.
So, writing positively about a public officer like him is natural and my own little way to encourage him to do more. I don’t think anything is wrong with this.
Nwanze (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chairman of Amurri Unity Forum, is a Journalist and Media Consultant based in Abuja.