Whenever he has a story idea to put forward, Anthony Akaeze, associate editor, says softly, “Sir, are you free, I want to discuss something with you?” He says it almost evasively, perhaps assuming that a high pitch tone added to his imposing physique could intimidate even editors, some of who are averagely built! But he need not bother, the size that comes with assessment in newsroom debates is that of your ideas, after all, there is no canvass to encourage raw engagement. And, more importantly, he is known as a gentleman.
So, Tony what do we have coming? He said, “I have been discussing with Professor Uche Azikiwe for an interview. She appears to be well disposed to it, but asked to be given time.” That sent some adrenalin in motion, honestly. So I said he should keep up the contact, for she qualifies for an interview any day, all things considered; as an accomplished academic, a woman of repute and wife of Nigeria’s first president.
Perhaps as a consideration for the young man, professor Azikiwe had said that he needed not travel to the East for the interview since she was billed to visit Lagos soon.
Then one day, Akaeze said, “Prof is coming to town today and has promised to call to tell me where I can meet her for the interview.” If the newsroom emptied on the place of her choice for the interview, it would not have been a bad idea, but there was a challenge. We were in the tick of activities to produce the edition of that week, and so could not free any of the editors to be with him on this assignment knowing full well that he was up to the task. Now, this opportunity was not one to toy with, so Akaeze had to go alone for the interview after discussing with Dipo Onabanjo, editorial director. In fact, whatever was left of his job had to be handled by some other colleague. The result of that encounter with the humble and frank woman, who says that despite being the wife of “Zik of Africa,” she has ‘no connections’, was voted for as the lead story in this edition. It is Biafra: War Is No Solution.
While that choice was being made last week, there was yet another issue that quietly rocked the polity. It was the gale of retrenchment in different sectors of the economy. The editorial board assigned the story to Juliana Uche-Okobi, an assistant editor. Was it convenient? She did not complain, not for a dutiful and hardworking journalist. A nursing mother in another calling would probably have given a thousand excuses for the cup to be taken off her. But journalism is quasi-military and when duty calls the good ones don’t think of excuses.
So the board raised a team to compliment her efforts in reporting the story. By the time she submitted to Salif Atojoko, deputy general editor, business and special project, the verdict was that she did a good job. The story, The Raging Sack Gale, is the alternate cover for the week.
These two are the signposts for the package we have for you.
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