By Amby Uneze
Madness is in many forms and types and that is why “when you appoint a madman as a bus conductor, he waves all the time without minding if passengers are available or not”, that is really the case of Sam Onwuemeodo, the chief press secretary to the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
How can one describe the action of Onwuemeodo in the current imbroglio that involves his boss banning some notable journalists working for world-class media organizations like THISDAY and Vanguard from covering his government house activities? I am happy that Onwuemeodo did not contradict my observation that he does not know the job of a press secretary that’s why he had made so many enemies for the governor than expected.
Let me educate Sam Onwuemeodo a little on the meaning of jester. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘jester’ is defined as “a professional clown employed to entertain a king or nobleman in the Middle Ages”. It also means a ‘fool, a clown, a goof, a buffoon, a comedian’. I’m sure Sam now knows what I mean by referring him as a ‘jester’. Judging him from what he does for his boss, he is no less a Jester. Full Stop.
For Sam Onwuemeodo to refer me as ‘a nobody’, I know he out-rightly gone bizarre because it is not obtainable for someone who does not know his paternity to describe the ‘son of the soil’ in that manner. Already, those who Sam Onwuemeodo claimed to be his blood relations in Arunta kindred in Ogbor Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area had since disassociated themselves from him. They had asked him to STOP answering their surname. So Sam Onwuwemedo do not have an identity.
For clarity sake, my grandfather, Pa Amos Uneze, a tall and huge personality was a colonial Police Officer, who later became a Supervisor with the PWD (Public Works Department) of the defunct colonial administration. My grandfather was among the first set of few individuals that built a zinc and block house in Nguru. The records are there for Sam to see.
However, without sounding boisterous, and for Sam Onwuemeodo to know that I passed through the four-walls of higher educational institutions, I had an Advanced Certificate in Journalism at the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede. Some of my course mates then, were the present Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Imo State chapter, Sir Innocent Igwe, former MAMSER staff, Dr. Okems Okemezie (now based in the US), Managing Director of Ihem Davis Press Ltd, and later the National President of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSE), Chief Davis Ihentuge. Infact we contributed in attracting the Mass Communication Department in that institution, which is there today.
I was also among the pioneer students of the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ). Among my course mates were Sis. Esther Ubong-Egbuna (now late) who was the former Director General of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), Dr. Obasi Oko, Deputy Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nekede, and Dr. Nnamdi Anumihe, the Orator of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede (these two academicians had earlier taught me at a time). I also went to Imo State University, Owerri for my degree in Mass Communication. With due respect to my lecturers at IMSU, let me only mention Prof. Victor Kogha and Prof. Dag Konkwo just to buttress my point.
Coming to working experience, I caught my journalism teeth at the defunct The New Nationalist Newspaper together with Mr. Sunny Onyeukwu (now SA to the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu) as my colleague. The former Managing Director of Abia Newspapers Limited, Chief Onuka Kalu was the Managing Director of the newspaper. By 1996, during the infamous “OTOKOTO Saga” I was already an Editor with the Horn Newspapers, the only Owerri-based newspaper owned by an individual (Chief Onii Egbunine – now late) outside the State-owned “Nigerian Statesman”. Horn Newspapers then paraded such fine journalists such as Charles Ogugbuaja – now of Guardian newspaper, Gele Agbai, publisher of National Newsbreak newspaper, Bright Chimezie Njoku, publisher of The Horn newspaper, Sylvester Okereke, Secretary of NUJ, Lagos State, Peter S.K.Uwa, etc.
Where was Sam Onwuemeodo when Horn Newspapers busted the news that climaxed into the “Otokoto Riot”? Did Sam Onwuemeodo got into the witness box during the Justice Emma Onumajulu’s Panel of Enquiry? I did all that. However, that is now history.
After that I worked withHallmark Newspapers, a Lagos-based newspaper owned by Prince Emeka Obasi and I was the Imo State Correspondent. At Hallmark, Chidi Obineche now an Editor with the Sun Newspapers and Martin Orih of Sunrise Newspapers were my colleagues.
I joined THISDAY Newspapers in the year 2000 and was posted to Enugu as a Correspondent where I also covered the “Justice Oputa Reconciliation Commission” with Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka as the Secretary. My appointment with THISDAY Newspapers was confirmed in 2002 and I was transferred to Cross River State were among other major assignments I covered included the “TINAPA PROJECT”, The First Cable Car in Nigeria at Obudu Mountain Resort.
I was the Managing Director of Leadway Communications, one of the foremost communication and media management outfits that championed promotional businesses in Imo State. I organized a National Book Fair in Imo State, First Fashion Show in the state and a host of other activities that brought fame to the state then. I contested the House of Assembly election in 2015 and currently I am the Assistant Secretary General of Ezurezu Mbaise. I belong to the Noble Order of Knight of St. John International (KSJI). Since 2012, I have been a member of the Church Building Committee and we had successfully built a Pro-Cathedral church in my village Parish.
I do not have any problem with the Imo State Governor, His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. My only ‘sin’ with the Governor is that I dared to ask him about the lack of government presence in Mbaise. I once asked His Excellency why Aboh Mbiase Local Government did not benefit from the 27 General Hospitals he built across the state. It is only Aboh Mbaise LGA that was denied that infrastructure. And up till now there was no answer to that question except that the PDP Governorship candidate in 2015 elections came from Aboh Mbaise LGA.
Sam Onwuemeodo has been instrumental to the bad press the governor has been getting even from the section of the Imo State Independent Newspapers Publishers Association (INPA). It was the CPS that got this body divided so that the activities of government would not be properly reported. As a CPS, he has the capacity to bring sanity among the INPA body and ensure that all journalists in the state are carried along instead of the ‘divide and rule’ principle, which he introduced that is causing a lot of ‘wahala’ for the government.
I have to go this length because Sam called for it. However, having been properly tutored on the principles of image management and human relations he would now begin to correct certain things which he did not get right ab-initio. I hope from now onwards, the relationship between government and the media would be strengthened for the good of the state. No one can claim to know it all, relationships are built when there are cracks within them.
Having provided enough dose of what Sam Onwuemeodo had asked me to do, I therefore urge him to bend down and do his work. I do not expect him to carry out his threat of resigning his appointment but to see some of us as partners in progress, so that his job would improve. I don’t want to go ahead to ask him what led to his leaving his previous jobs at Lagos Eagles and Vanguard newspaper, afterall Sam Onwuemeodo is still my brother. I believe that a word is enough for the wise and advice is not a cause.