Chat with Legislator: Leaking Roof Steals Shine
I feel obliged to always practice what I teach. Also, I learn every day.
Whenever I teach News Writing and Reporting for the Multi-media to students of Mass Communication in Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), I explain that unusualness and prominence constitute part of the criteria for determining what could qualify as news. Unusualness prescribes that Reporters should watch out for unique, rare and unexpected occurrences. Also, prominence, as a determinant of news, is based on the premise that although all men and women may have been created equal, some are either more powerful in status, or more interesting than others.
In addition, I instruct my students that the opening portion of their stories which is known as the lead, must be written in such a way that it must arrest the attention of readers and compel them to read the entire story. I also enjoin them to constantly abide by the ethics of journalism. Otherwise known as the canons of journalism, the ethics of this profession could be compared to the Holy Bible. The ethics insist that journalists must practice moral principles such as truth and fairness.
Therefore, I put these lessons into practice whenever I embark on any journalistic assignment, such as the assignment that culminated in yesterday’s publication of my conversation with Honourable Peter Odey, member representing Ogoja Constituency in Cross River State House of Assembly. I didn’t embark on that assignment to invade Honourable Peter’s privacy. I embarked on it in the interest of the public.
Unfortunately, I have noticed that some readers of that publication as shared on Facebook, feel that I shouldn’t have described the leaking roof in Honourable Peter’s official residence. The publication has raised several comments on that medium.
For instance, Olive Ekanem commended the quality of the interview, but added that ”I don’t think that the leaking roof is necessary.” Ushonye Ayim sounded abusive, stating that: ”This roof talk is petty talk and goes to show how petty the author of the post is. You go your brother house go dey look wetin u go come talk for Facebook. Where is the brotherly love?” Anthony Odama Odey, another Facebook user, appreciated Ushonye’s ”concern” and encouraged him to ”keep it up!”
Similarly, Larry Ukpamie, also posted on Facebook that: ”Sincerely speaking, this is not newsworthy. Leaking can be in any roof, even in Apo quarters in Abuja…. I thought there is this adage, that u don’t wash your dirty… in public?”
Thankfully, Ntongha Martins had this reply: ”Larry Ukpamie, why then are you mentioning Apo quarters’ roof leakage, if it is usual and not newsworthy? If my roof drips water and soaks a part of my sitting room, it is not newsworthy. That of a public figure makes it newsworthy. That is even the part that interests me. Very unusual.”
Also, Bassey Ekpo Bassey saw some merits in the description of that leaking roof. He said: ”Honourable Peter is my friend and he is in govt. If he can’t do anything to make the relevant authority fix it and other buildings in the estate, then there is no hope for us ordinary mortals.”
Nancy Basil also saw its worth. According to her: ”Many people thing this (sic) appointees are swimming in money but this will give them an insight into the state of things in our state.”
At the time of filing this report, sixty (60) comments had been made on that post, on Facebook. Forty one (41) of those comments dwelled on the issue of leaking roof. Most of the remaining comments either paid compliments to Honourable Peter or commended the worth of the interview. For instance, Alobo Ishmael Eba said: ”Insightful discussion I must say. The Honourable touch lighted critical areas of legislation that require our collective resolve to actualize especially in the devolution of power. I support his view totally.”
It would be recalled that in that conversation which was published here yesterday, Honourable Peter spoke eloquently on salient issues, including how he intends to vote when the Cross River State House of Assembly votes on Constitution Amendment. Specifically, he mentioned that he would vote in support of autonomy for Local Government Councils and autonomy for State Legislative Houses. He also spoke on the issue of cult-related violence in Ogoja and some parts of Cross River state. His opinion on those issues deserve public attention and discourse. But so far, nobody has engaged him on any of these issues or given him any input on how to use his legislative powers to improve on the lives of his constituents in particular and Cross River State in general.
Understandably, Honourable Peter, whose name is Peter Odinga on Facebook, has reacted thus, on that Facebook post: ”I’m indeed surprised we are dwelling on leak roof. I thought we will engage on national issues that will change our country for good.”
Nevertheless, that comment has elicited further reactions that suggest that some people consider a leaking roof as an emergency that equally deserves attention. Here are excerpts of such:
Erasmus Ekpang: ”Part of those issues are leakages.”
Bishop Victor Bassey: ”Leak roof is a proof of our environmental and safety incompetence. A case study of waste management and other hazards in this state! In developed clime that House should be certified ‘unfit’ to live, talk less of a deserving honourable.”
Cletus Nzan: ”The leaking roof is just fundamental in this interview and has exposed our inefficiency towards timely service delivery.”
Dean Otu: ”Drops of blessing.”
Frank Akaba: ”…The leaking roof is just the beginning of disgrace since they’ve decided to be toys in the hands of one man for pittances to the detriment of the people they ought to represent qualitatively. Their welfare is also being eroded because the paymaster doesn’t see them as serious guys that deserve comfort being his remote controls….”
Isaac Ally: ”Thank God he has a shelter for free or paid for. What if the apartment was a personal property, do you think you would have met it like that? If I find myself in any leaking roof as rented, govt or personal, I will surely fix it to avoid embarrassment.”
Leo Aggrey: ”They say the rich also cry. The recession is across all strata of people. He has never hidden it. He is true and forward.”
Peter Ijakoli: ”Really sad sir, but I think this would have been off the social media.”
Also, Egbor Odey suggested that I should ask ”my friend” to fix the leaking roof, adding that ”it is gross irresponsibility to self to wait for government to do it.” But Ama Bassey replied thus: ”He is human and faces challenges too. He raised good issues to be talked about but all we see is leaking roof… for me the leakage is a comic relief. Its a real world out there… we all have things to fix.”
Meanwhile, Honourable Peter has posted that he has been informed that some people are in front of his apartment to ”fix the leaking roof under strict instructions not to reveal who sent them.” However, he suspects that they are mischief makers who want to make news out of it. He has appreciated them, if the intention is genuine. He submitted that, ”It’s not as bad as it looks. The leakage will be fixed.”
Like Ama Bassey rightly said, ”We all have things to fix”. Sure! Nobody has immunity from challenges. Such is life.
- Cornelius Ellah
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