That Long Day In September > Latest Naija News > 26/01/2018

I knew it was going to be a lengthy day. The Saturday of the All Nigerian Editors Conference, ANEC, is constantly a extended day. But this 1, I knew would even be longer. In reality, my aching knees and ankles told me there would be 26 hours in that 1 day in September. If I wasn’t the President of the Guild, I most likely would have indulged my tired waist and back and sprawled in front of the hotel room television and watched African Magic Epic till my eyes popped. But not on September 23, 2017! No such luxury. It was the day earmarked to check out what Governor Nyesom Wike, CON, had performed with Rivers State money. He had earlier told us about his challenging perform for the superior individuals of the state. So, it was his day of reckoning. He was going to show at least 350 vital Nigerian editors if he had certainly delivered or if he was just ‘posing.’

I roused my thoughts and body with a swift gulp of my favourite drink. Too tired to even consume breakfast, I splashed on as substantially make-up on my face to hide the tiredness of the final 5 days in Port Harcourt and possibly 4 months of anxious planning of the 1st ANEC of my 1st term as President of the NGE.

With my sunglasses as added shield, I hopped on the bus with my colleagues. The governor was already in his sky blue shirt and jean trousers. He got on the bus with us but refused to sit beside me.

Funke, your problems is also significantly. Let me sit beside Louis. I feel it is safer there.’

Everyone laughed and I wondered how harmful tiny me could be to a governor like Wike. Each of us knew we had unfinished organization but he avoided sitting beside me all through that tour. Even when we moved from the bus to the helicopter, he stayed as far away from me and my trouble as he could. Oh yes, you possibly saw Governor Wike and I major that Project inspection and he answering my questions, that was work and road show. As soon as we got back on the bus, he returned to his buddy, Louis Odion. I bet you are itching to know the nature of my problems. When you are President of the Guild and also Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper, you are lugging about so substantially trouble and seeking for how to turn those troubles to one thing very good. That is all I can inform you for now…

All the same, all that day, Governor Wike was stuck with me. He have to show Editors what his new title, Mr Projects, meant and if he was wearing it appropriately.

‘Your Excellency, can we get started this tour exactly where we stopped last year?’ I asked.

Oh, I need to inform you that Nigerian editors were in Port Harcourt for ANEC in 2016 as well. Indeed, Wike is the initially governor to host the Nigerian Editors Conference for two consecutive years. The superior thing about that is that it provided us an chance to see if the projects he told us would be completed in 3, six months and a single year had really been delivered or if it was all ‘wash’ as they say in the South South. For this girl who was all covered in sweat and mud seeing some of those projects final year, I needed proof that I didn’t risk a designer footwear for practically nothing.

Wike was excited to show us what we wanted. He reminded us that we’d currently noticed the Pleasure Park the previous evening where we danced to our hearts’ content material. You ought to have noticed Dame Comfort Obi, Azu Ishiekwene, Gbenga Adesina, Rose Moses, Steve Nwosu, yours sincerely and other editors dancing down memory lane to lovely oldies from the 80s. Ray Ekpu and Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo sat in the Elders’ Corner cheering us on. We had been supposed to go on a boat ride but couldn’t mainly because it was raining but we sure had enjoyable. Final year, the Pleasure Park was just an expanse of land complete of slippery clay where I virtually landed on my ageing backside 3 occasions. This year, it was one project delivered.

‘What about the road exactly where the individuals have been falling off their motorcycles and drowning and considering it was Mammy Water sucking them up as sacrifice.’

That also had been delivered. That was the Igwuruta-Chococho Road, completed to make certain access to the meals basket of the state appropriate in the heart of the Etche neighborhood. I nevertheless bear in mind the Etche people’s spontaneous reception and hailing final year even when the road was still beneath construction, also colourful to be forgotten.

And then there was the 1 that had numerous editors holding their hanging jaws. Trust me, Nigerian editors are not easy to impress. Really cynical lot, those ones. They have noticed as well a lot of roads and bridges but the Woji-Akpajo bridge under construction final year was one thing impressive. Seeing all the piling, tons and tons of sand becoming merely poured into the lagoon, steel pipes increasing out of the water and granite and concrete disappearing into the bottomless bosom of Mammy Water… all eye-popping. Nyesom Wike has delivered that also.

When we alighted at Creek Road to inspect the Bonny-Bille Jetty, it was suitable into the mud once more. One more ‘wow’ construction web-site. The jetty will connect the riverine communities of Bonny Island, Bille and Nembe in Bayelsa state. By the time the project is delivered, city dwellers going residence for Christmas and other ceremonies would no longer risk life and limbs in old boats and sitting for hours on all that water. I uncover so considerably water intimidating just standing at the edge only. The governor said the state would bring in contemporary boats to guarantee enhanced marine transport. The spontaneous welcome of both the old and the young, I think, is an indication that those individuals even understood the project much better than I did. In spite of all the work I place into not slipping into the gutter or falling face initial into all that construction stuff, my fine footwear was all covered in mud. My individuals promptly bought water to rescue my muddy shoes, either mainly because they love me or they didn’t want me to stink up the bus, or both.

There was lots of power-walk from one particular ongoing project to the other and do not be fooled by that governor’s weight, he is fit. A lot of of us had to occasionally break into quick runs to retain up with him. I pride myself on being able to stroll 5 kilometers in 50 minutes (I generally really feel like an Olympic gold medalist thereafter) but that Saturday had me panting. My calves felt like they had been being slowly cooked on low flame and I had to go on. The governor totally forgot that editor or not, my bones were female and receiving old.

Years ago when I didn’t have hundreds of editors to report to, when I got tired on a tour like that, I basically let the governor involved knock himself out although I retired back into the bus to propound such theories as the Pounding Theory, figuring out the challenges of the Pounder and the Poundee with Ray Echebiri and Ken Ugbeche. No such luck in 2017.

So, of course when it was time to board the helicopter so we could go farther into Rivers state, I told myself, ‘don’t be afraid, just use the flight to catch a quick nap.’ I did.

Seeing Rivers state from that height is a story for a further day. We landed at Birabi Memorial Grammar College. The transformation of the school will move you involving sadness and joy. The government had preserved some ‘relics’ of the dilapidated structure as a reminder of the old college. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures had even been produced into a photo album!

We moved on to the Sakpenwa-Bori road and then to the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo road with 4 bridges. What’s with this governor and bridges, I muttered beneath my breath as I panted along, a smile I was no longer feeling on my face. That smile disappeared altogether by the time we did the back and forth on Abonnema Ring Road, a rescue road for the Abonnema Island town exactly where sometimes motorists going to a wedding got stuck though the couple exchanged vows, rings and the groom would even have finished giving a good account of himself and roundly tested the goods he had taken delivery of ahead of the visitors jam released its prisoners. It was that undesirable.

Note that as we were inspecting roads and bridges, there have been two other groups of editors checking out projects in education and health. It was a lengthy day for everyone.

By the time the helicopter landed at the helipad at Government Property, it was nicely previous five.00pm. I barely had time to return to my hotel, shower and get prepared for the next programme.

Would I say Governor Wike has performed effectively? I would. Has he escaped my troubles? Not by a lengthy shot. I’m a president, don't forget, even if it is president with a small ‘P’. I will be on his case till he is no longer governor and I’m no longer President. And there is the matter of my becoming Editor-in-Chief as well. I do not think Louis Odion will be capable to safeguard him forever.

26.01.2018 16:41:08
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