Nigerian journalists endangered species?
….They shouldn’t be mere spectators of other peoples’ fortunes – Sen Sani
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People’s Daily Newspapers Correspondent in Kaduna, Femi Oyelola, on Thursday 10th March 2016, went out on an assignment for his medium with intention to proof to his employers that he was equal to the task before him not knowing what lie ahead of him on that fateful day.
He was about crossing the dual carriage road at popular Command Secondary school junction, Kaduna as a pedestrian, when a fast moving vehicle cleared him off the road.
Then, eyewitness accounts revealed that traffic wardens on duty that day had earlier stopped the vehicles coming from his opposite direction and gave him signal to cross the road when a vehicle appeared from nowhere and hit him hard leading to serious fractures on his right leg and left harm.
He was rushed to emergency ward at Saint Gerald Catholic Hospital which is just a stone throw from the scene of the accident for onward treatment. This time, he was lucky that the person that hit him did not ran away as usually the case.
On reading about the story on social media, Senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Shehu Sani, visited him on his hospital bed, prayed for his quick recovery and donated initial N100, 000 and ordered the hospital management to move him to private ward with promise to off set the medical charges. He has since gave him additional N100, 000 making it total of N200,000 cash gift.
But the amazing thing is that ever since his predicament, he has been abandoned to his fate even by colleagues in pen pushing profession.
In an interview with Gobroadsheet, Oyelola still have thanks to God for spearing his life even though it was a bitter experience, believing God to walk on his feet again soon.
Hear him, “staying out of field for these three months is not palatable at all based on the kind of stories I pursue. I am not a journalist that sit at home waiting for press release before writing stories. So, it’s natural for people like that to just stay off the field and became useless.
“Though as a journalist, you try to follow what is happening around you, but even at that, you don’t really get what you want because you were not there. It is not like when you are on the field yourself. It is usually sad to be out of the field. It is sad aspect of my life.
“I look forward to a situation where journalists are better treated that when the situation like this happened. You don’t begin to look for help outside. Organizations too should also involved after all you were doing their work when the thing happened.
“I want to use this opportunity to appreciate those that have been there for me since the incident happened. I don’t want to mention but people know them. My employers too have the admin manager on two occasions to wish me well.
“I hope to be back to the field one day that is not far from now by the special grace of Almighty Allah.”
Expressing anger over the neglect of 50-year-old journalist by the public which he spent his 20 years of his life defending, a veteran Journalist, Elder John Fwah, decried the sad end of Nigerian journalists, saying Nigeria don’t appreciate them until after their departure.
According to him, many Nigerian journalists are doing it for the love they have for the profession, adding that the risk involved outweigh the advantages. We are missing him and we cannot wait for him to be fully recovered and welcome him back into the vogue.
He said, “you can imagine what happened to Femi who is an exceptionally workaholic journalist we have here in Kaduna. He write a lot of human angle stories, business, security as well as political stories. When you talk of investigative journalism, he leads among his age grade and even those that are younger than him are leaning from him. I think he loves what he does.
“Now, he has been out of profession for more than three months now and nobody is there to help apart from Senator Shehu Sani. Where are the ordinary Nigerians he used to fight for? Where are the politicians he used to promote? Where is the medium he used to get good exclusive stories for? He asked.
Also speaking, the immediate past Secretary of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Council, Dominic Uzu, described the plight of Nigerian journalists as pathetic.
He said it was pathetic because the profession is not loved by anyone, “if you are practising in Nigeria, don’t pray for any misfortune because if it happens it is then that you will know that you are not loved by the country.
“People including colleagues will desert you. People you use your pen to defend will also dessert you.
“Femi is a vibrant young man who has contributed immensely to the profession and misfortune fell on him with none to cry to not even colleagues or medium he works with. That shows that Nigerian journalists are only useful and important when their service is needed by politicians and even employers. What has People’s Daily done about him? Nothing! He added.
He then frowned at the situation where important personalities in the country are only fond of releasing statement only when people who have do the country proud have crossed the bridge under the guise of sympathising with them which they have failed while such fellow is alive.
He appealed to spirited Nigerians to come to Femi aid as he still in dare need of help to get back on his legs and continue with what he knows how to do best.
Meanwhile, as part of effort to reach out to the needy during the month of Ramadan, Sen Sani was sighted on Monday at the residence of Femi Oyelola to identify with him and his family who have been there for him since the unfortunate incident.
He said what happened to Femi is a clear indication that all Nigerians needs insurance and protection as right now as priviledge.
He frowned at the ongoing debate in the National Assembly to amend 1999 constitution to pave way for leaders of NASS to be entitled to life pension, saying Nigerians should be the primary target of the lawmakers when it comes to improved welfare packages.
The lawmaker said, “I am on a private visit to come and see Femi. It is painful to see a very hardworking journalist to be pinned down like this. We should be also thankful because sickness and injury is an opportunity to strengthen your faith. You now have direct experience when it happened to another person.
“We are still happy to see you alive. We should also be grateful to God who spared your live. It is clear that journalists are some of the most vulnerable persons in Nigeria today. Even though we are in process of constitutional review where a lot of interests are been brought to bare.
“For example, the issue of immunity for some elected officers. I am in opposition to impunity of public officeholders. No reason to immune people to stand trial. But I can understand that of the President and his vice.
“I will also use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to his wife who have proved that she will be there for him come shine come rain because few women can stand by a man in this kind of situation.
“Most of us in the public office’s only use and dump journalists. When a politician is in trouble, he look for journalists to rescue him. But when they are out of trouble and making it, they forget those that have helped them which is quite unfortunate.
“In Nigeria today, Journalists have become spectators of other people fortunes. So when we share money or other for politicians, journalists should be remembered because they are always around to help politicians.
“I have known Femi for more than 20 years and I know what he stands for. I promised to be given him monthly support until he’s healed and back to his work as my own little contribution to his sustainability. I will also go back to the hospital to clear any outstanding debts in his account,” he added.
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