This star is beckoning on Governor Ugwuanyi By DONS EZE 

Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State
Governor Ugwuanyi

At a particular stage in a nation’s history, God will always raise up people, standard bearers, who will be a light unto their people, who will salvage them from the vagaries and vicissitudes of life. He raised Moses, Joshua, Samson, King David, etc., who at one time or the other, played significant roles in the emancipation of the people of Israel.

Every country, every people, is gifted with their own Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, etc., each of who, according to Frantz Fanon, will “discover his mission, fulfill it, or betray it”.

When Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, armed with two masters degrees, after nine years sojourn in the United States of America wanted to return home, he resolved to go into journalism, and through it, to fulfill his historic mission.

At first, Nigeria did not give Zik the opportunity to practice journalism in his own country, which compelled him to make a detour to the Gold Coast, now Ghana, where he founded and edited “The African Morning Post”.

Zik’s aim in going into journalism was to use it to create awareness and arouse the sleeping consciousness of the people of Africa to assert themselves as human beings created by God, and with equal rights.

After some few years of successful outing with “The African Morning Post” in the Gold Coast, Zik returned to his native land, Nigeria, where he established his chain of newspapers, with “The West African Pilot” as the flagship.

In journalism, and through his chain of newspapers, Azikiwe was able to articulate and expound his idea about human freedom, which is universal and inalienable, and how Africans could seize upon it to assert their own freedom from colonial rule. Thus, the battle for Nigerian independence was, in the main, fought and won through journalism, and on the pages of newspapers.

When Zik became the Premier of Eastern Region, he equally sought to emancipate the thinking faculty of the people through awareness creation. He founded the Eastern Nigeria Information Service (ENIS), and through it, established the “Eastern Nigerian Outlook and Cameroon Star” newspaper. That was when the English-speaking Cameroon was part of Eastern Nigeria. When later the Cameroon left Nigeria, the newspaper simply became known as “The Eastern Nigerian Outlook”.

“The Eastern Nigerian Outlook” was educative, informative and incisive in its reportage, and punchy in its editorial. It had very powerful writers like MCK Ajuluchukwu (Weekend Catechism), Meke Anagbogu, Tony Gbanite, Gab Idigo, among others.

The Outlook helped in no small way in educating and creating political awareness among the people of Eastern Nigeria. That was the time one would see somebody holding a newspaper upside down and would be saying: “Zik ekwuola!” (Zik has spoken!).

In 1967, with the declaration of Biafra, “The Eastern Nigeria Outlook” was renamed “Biafra Sun”. The “Biafra Sun” played no small role in the Biafra war, and assisted in countering Nigeria’s propaganda onslaught against Biafra.

At the end of the Biafra war, the newspaper again changed its name to “The Renaissance”, with Mokwugo Okoye, Agwu Okpanku, Tom Chigbo, Gilbert Ofodile, Linus Okechi (Sunil Icheko), John Anamaleze Jr., Ifeanyi Nwafor, Petrus Orjiekwe, etc., among its powerful writers. “The Renaissance” effectively captured the post civil war struggle of former Biafrans to assert themselves and how to braced up to the challenges confronting them.

Following the military change of guards in the country in 1975, the new regime in the East Central State once again changed the name of the newspaper outfit to the “Daily Star” with celebrated writer and author, COD (Cash On Delivery) Cyprain Ekwensi, as its Managing Director.

Among the many powerful writers that featured regularly on the pages of the “Daily Star”, and who, over the years, had helped to reshape the thinking of the people of the East, were Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Mike Iwenofu, Joe-Bell Molokwu, C. de Aguomba, Tony Ojukwu, Ben Obiatuegwu, Chika Onwudiegwu, Ivy Obi-Okoye, Unoaku Ekwegbalu, Vincent Ezenwa, Leo Eleanya, Ment Nnomeh, yours truly (Frankly Speaking), etc., etc.

The “Daily Star”, at that time, was the talk of the town, which properly had represented the views and opinions of Nigerians east of the Niger. The newspaper was also a very good laboratory or training ground for budding journalists, particularly those from the eastern part of the country. A good number of Nigerians, past and present, who worked and still work in various capacities in different parts of the country, had passed through this old warhorse.

In course of time, however, the STAR began to fade or to disappear. The “Daily Star” was no longer seen on the newsstand as its fortunes began to dwindle. It was no longer what it used to be, but a shadow of itself.

A visit to the corporate headquarters of the newspaper outfit at No. 9 Works Road, GRA. Enugu, would make one shed tears. Beginning from its gate, the entire place looked desolate, unkept, bushy and deserted. You would be confronted with some dejected and hungry faces, some sorry sights to behold, who perhaps, might not have received any salary for quite a long time.

Virtually all the offices were dusty, littered with empty tables. Most of the window panes were no longer there, while the few remaining ones were all broken. There were no window blinds. When you enter the printing press section, you would see that most of its machines and equipments were rusty, and that they have either broken down, or become obsolete.

This unfortunate state of affair did not start today. It started a very long years ago, during the inglorious rein of the military, when soldiers of fortune were posted to various states in the East, to preside over the liquidation of their establishments and the pauperization of the people the area.

The Eastern Nigeria Information Service (ENIS), founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and sustained by Dr. Michael Okpara, that comprised both the print and electronic media, “The Eastern Nigeria Outlook” and the “Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Service” (ENBS), radio and television wings, were services oriented. They were never envisaged to compete with other commercially oriented organisations, but were powerful tools in the hands of the government to make its voice, and the voice of the people heard, and they played that role effectively.

However, when the army of occupation came, they made no distinction between services oriented outfits and purely commercial agencies. They romped them together and began to expect huge financial returns. That was how the “Daily Star” in particular, died. The consequence was that both the government and the people have lost their voices.

Today in the entire South East Zone, the people have no organ of information dissemination. They depend on media outfits from outside the zone, which may, or may not, accommodate their views. This is embarrassing. That is why the South East is missing, never heard, and has continued to lag behind, culturally, politically and economically.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe recognized the power of the press, and used it effectively. So also were Dr. Michael Okpara, Ojukwu in Biafra, and even Ukpabi Asika, at the end of Biafra war.

This, therefore, is a big challenge to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State. He should rise to the occasion. He should give the East a voice, by breathing life into the “Daily Star”.

Enugu being the capital of the entire Southern Nigeria (1929-1939); Eastern Region (1939-1966); Republic of Biafra (1967-1970); the East Central State (1967-1976); Anambra State (1976-1991); and now Enugu State, deserves a credible and viable organ of information dissemination.

As the Holy Bible says, you cannot lit a candle and put it under the table. You put it up for everybody to see with it. Enugu is more than a town or city that should be hid under the table. It should radiate light for everyday to see with it. We look forward to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to pick up the gauntlet.

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