BY AKPANDEM JAMES
It isn’t usually that you’ve a E-book Evaluation start with the creator, however the truth stays that the content material of a guide is pretty much as good as the author. The creator transfers his data and personage onto the package deal. The integrity of the creator provides impetus to the guide and believability to the content material.
Mr Lanre Idowu, the creator of Uneven Steps: The story of the Nigerian Guild of Editors could be described as a examined combatant and a Subject Marshall within the journalism career. He’s a frontline participant in its affairs and a first-class traveler within the journey of the guild of Nigerian Editors. So writing concerning the journey of the guild, for him, is like reliving an expertise.
The primary title of the guide, “Uneven Steps” summarises the story of the Guild. It signposts a journey episode of a large who toddles alongside on a crucial journey harassed by headwinds: climbing hills and descending valleys with ache and stress; but clinging on to the hope that alongside the way in which it’s going to encounter a benevolent spirit that can confer on it the sort of standing commensurate with public expectations of its members. An enormous that’s at all times apprehensive of the decision of historical past, going by the unique intentions of the founding fathers; and the realities of contemporary instances, notably because it impacts the observe and the standing of the physique of practitioners. A journey stuffed with nightmares: some imagined, some imposed, however largely self-inflicted.
The guide narrates how generally the Guild strikes nearer to the attainment of its beliefs; however as hope rises, the components that maintain all of us and the nation hostage sneak in, and the sunshine dims and the live performance goes awry. When it occurs, the editors and the Guild stroll the scene with uneven steps. Editors should not alien to bitter grapes, they encounter them of their seek for what makes them what they’re; within the course of, they eat some, and the expertise usually has by no means been palatable.
So, going by means of the guide, it seems apparent that the state of the NGE, which is nearly a yr youthful than the nation itself, will not be totally different from the story of the nation – audacious however not firmly established, shifting however unstable. At some stage, the steps could be agency however alongside the road, they’d wobble after which turn into uneven. In reality, a large with toes of clay!
The Guild was given beginning to by nice minds and “ancestors” of the journalism career, eminently acknowledged in Chapter Three. It was produced within the manufacturing facility of rebel, to avert annihilation by capitalists who noticed the media because the car to drive and maintain their ambitions. It was additionally to stave off discrimination within the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). It was due to this fact a baby of circumstance. Idowu says it was, partially, the product of reverse discrimination within the NUJ. The Editor was a employed hand who might be directed and fired at will. However editors should not agberos whose main preoccupation is to load autos with no qualms as to capability and security issues. The agbero’s curiosity is to load the car and get his fee – whether or not or not the car will get to its vacation spot safely, is none of his enterprise. Editors should not forged in that mildew.
The pioneers needed safety and relevance; they wanted to do their jobs professionally and with integrity. They shaped the Guild. They began the journey properly, however the vagaries of climate and the harshness of the geopolitical tendencies coupled with the whims of the financial local weather affected the smoothness of the journey, resulting in tiredness, stress, despondency, and in the end uneven steps.
However that Mr Idowu himself is a excessive priest within the congregation, he by no means pulled his punches the place the sacrament went bitter. He by no means additionally did not beam the shining lights the place acceptable. He isn’t one who permits sentiments to intrude together with his conclusions. Wherever he noticed a spade, he referred to as it by its actual title.
The guide is completed in a 6×9 inches format with 214 pages together with 20 pages of entrance matter (Dedication, Abbreviations, Tables, Foreword, Preface and acknowledgments) and 45 pages of again matter (References, Appendixes, and Indexes). There are sixteen pages of pictures of previous officers and occasions of the Guild. It’s a catalogue of the triumphs and travails of the Guild in its sixty years. It’s devoted to the continued seek for that means and duty within the media and its promotion as a robust pillar of democracy and an agent of nationwide growth.
The primary part begins with abbreviations of standard organs and establishments talked about within the guide; then tables of legal guidelines and circumstances, adopted by the Foreword written by a revered “ancestor” of the career, the late Prince Tony Momoh. The creator wrote the Preface protecting nearly three and half pages. Acknowledgments and the Content material pages comply with earlier than the primary chapter.
The primary story is about in seventeen chapters. The primary chapter talks concerning the beginning of the Guild – At first; adopted by The Press and Independence; The Guilds founding fathers; The Guild underneath navy rule (1966-79); the Guild within the Second Republic (1979 – 1983); Searching for the Guild (1983 – 1988); Resuscitation of the Guild (1988); Between Resurgence and Grovelling (1988-1992) and the Guild and Army Repression (19933 – 1998), in that order.
Different chapters embody: A extra assertive Guild; Constitutional Crises within the Guild; The Guild’s fellowship Award; Who’s an Editor; The Editor within the Digital Age; The Affiliate Membership Conundrum; Who funds the Guild and The way forward for the Guild.
The guide paints the Guild as a not too wholesome youngster: a baby with a fainting spirit; a physique that’s usually lacking in motion throughout crucial instances – it disappears and returns limp; usually introduced again to life by means of a resuscitation course of. As an illustration, in Chapter Six: Searching for the Guild (1983 -1988), Idowu wrote that through the turbulent years of Decree No. Four of 1984 when “the legislation was in no temper for journalistic adventurism” and when media homes have been haunted at will, together with the proscription of Newswatch journal (Proscription from Circulation, Decree No.6 of 1987), the guild was in limbo.
He put it this manner: “While the NPAN and NUJ have been in contact with the federal government to chop brief the ban of Newswatch, the editors have been lacking in motion. For the reason that fallout of the Minna Conference of 1982, there had been no skilled physique of editors to interact authorities”. It took some sort of Nicodemus strikes, utilizing some editors in government-owned media as medics, to carry the ailing Guild again to life. Idowu noticed the transfer as a part of the grand design by “authorities to woo the press, assemble a semblance of amity and empanel an expert affiliation for periodic engagement”.
Pages 56 to 63 protecting two chapters unveiled the helpless and seemingly escapist nature of the Guild sooner or later, even within the face of threats, torments, torture, and emasculation of its members and the media. As an illustration on web page 57, veteran journalist Chris Okolie was quoted (1988) as telling an government member: “Through the homicide of Dele Giwa your government stored mute. So, too, was your government helpless when Ray Ekpu was charged with homicide and arson. The manager did nothing when Every day Sketch and Tribune editors have been put underneath strain. Likewise, the identical government regarded the opposite means when Newswatch was proscribed for publishing the Politbureau report”.
The Guild was nonetheless recuperating when new viruses have been launched into its system – the common trademark of our woes as a political entity – Area and Faith. Coupled with the non-categorical definition of who an editor is within the digital media, these grew to become the underlying illnesses that additional crippled the Guild, a incapacity it’s nonetheless fighting to at the present time.
It was on the Minna Conference of 1982 that the an infection occurred. Despite the standard of practitioners then, the fumes of politics and the rascality in some quarters choked the Guild and it was positioned on a ventilator till the Babangida regime in 1988 utilized strain on its chest; and was subsequently revived by proxy editors from government-owned organisations. Chapters Six and Seven take care of these points.
So, did the Guild get properly quickly? Chapters Seven to 9 didn’t appear to discharge the affected person, because the file exhibits that the standing was between resurgence and groveling, particularly as members got here underneath one other spherical of navy repression between 1993 and 1998. It was not till 1998 that the Guild was on its toes and have become extra assertive, however the pleasure of restoration after being bedridden for an extended interval and the zeal to fortify its ranks in opposition to one other epidemic of the Minna dimension led to a constitutional disaster that nearly returned the Guild to the casualty ward (Chapter 11).
One nagging symptom that’s but to search out an acceptable prescription and treatment is the Editor himself. Who’s the Editor and who must be a member of the NGE? If an ailment will not be correctly outlined and identified, prescription and therapy turn into troublesome. And that’s a serious problem of the Guild. From the presentation, this appears to have turn into an issue because the Minna Conference, as indicated in Chapter 5.
In Chapter 13, Idowu states that the unique intention of the Guild was to have a membership of de jure and de facto editors who, in legislation and in reality, decide what goes into publications. This, it’s acknowledged, made it simpler for the founding fathers to agree on who a newspaper editor or deputy was. “It was additionally not controversial to find out who certified as an affiliate member” (Web page 122).
All through the guide, the difficulty of professionalism and ethics rings loud. The desirability or in any other case of a Press Council may also be present in chapter 4. In reality, in Chapter 8, the guide quotes one of many Guild’s previous presidents, Alhaji Waida Maida as having instructed his colleagues in 1991 that “the media are step by step shedding believability and we should do one thing to arrest this pattern. We ought to understand the load of our duty within the sustenance of democratic rule as soon as the navy palms over to the civilians”. Whether or not that has been achieved, the reply blows within the wind.
It’s not all gloom. Other than indications in about three previous chapters, the concluding chapter on the Way forward for the Guild states clearly that there’s a lot to commend the physique for if assessed by its acknowledged targets. For one, the seek for a code of ethics has been efficiently accomplished and periodic enlivening of its provisions, particularly at durations of normal elections, is ongoing.
The creator shows a monumental energy of recall and an expert grasp of views. He made about 74 citations from key gamers to again up his narrative on explicit topic issues. The guide is a befitting trophy for the Guild at 60. It’s one guide that each journalist, journalism trainer, journalism faculty, and people within the progress of journalism observe, ought to have. In reality, it ought to discover house in each library. It’s each a reference guide and a historical past guide.
The author has achieved his bit in chronicling the journey of the Guild within the final 60 years of its existence. Though the founding fathers championed a course that was meant to offer impetus to the observe and the career, lack of belief and management incongruities threatened the harmony that existed within the fold at first, a growth that has endured until at the present time.
There’s due to this fact the necessity for members to come up, just like the tribune of previous, and type a vanguard to guard and pilot the affairs of the physique. We should channel all our efforts in the direction of constructing a robust unbiased physique that may, in a single accord, ship a sucker punch when challenged. We should resolve always to stay steadfast to the beliefs of the career and the nurturing of a galaxy of stars. We must be an inspiration to different skilled our bodies, God being our guardian.
James is a fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (fnge). This assessment was made on the 17th Annual All Nigerian Editors Convention in Abuja on Thursday, October 21, 2021.