...Redifining Journalism for Development

East, West, Work is Best – The Sweep with Hassan Alhaji Hassan


I am fast at learning my new national humanitarian assignment which started late September last year. And a new year always brings new, unusual things – remember all that you prayed for, for you and me that God chooses the best for us. We did. And after serving my home State for three months, the arrow now points west. And so I come further westwards.
I come from the east to the west, driven by passion for change, through work, influencing people and pushing for human solutions to human issues, on non-governmental platforms.
It is my first week, and the experience of striking difference is already vast, which is even more reason to fascinate me. Working to affect, change and save lives – kids’ lives – is always a pleasure that fulfils the purpose of my own life.
There is this deep valley in which I lived all my public service life which separates the two sides of what I do for humanity and for the public. And I did delved deep into it.  I was trapped, even now, the past three years between professionalism and politics.
I am not a politician. No. Not just by commenting on public affairs or by telling the relative reality and truth in polity. And it is unfair to be so seen. Keeping mute on the watch of much spoil is treachery I cannot afford to take before my Lord.
Those who so see and tag us as politicians are simply afraid: our words are capable of cleansing the dirt of our dirty politics. They want to keep it dirty because in sanity, their play of the card will not hold the poor in perpetual want. I don’t know how well I managed it in conducting my affairs and commented on those of the public. You are the best and only judge.
But I know how much of its intrigues and human behaviour and attitudes have followed my experience while I perambulated back and forth between a public analyst/commentator/politically leaned journalist on one side and a scholar/academic/professional/activist. I was both. Now I know I was all. And it has now fixed the maxim in my mind for life: man is a political animal.
But politics is of different types, levels, shapes, colours and purposes. I don’t know which is which that I portrayed all the while, but I do know that contesting an election must be, and it remains impossible in my type of politicising, no matter the attraction that invites it. Trust me. Just impossible. By Allah’s Will and Mercy.
My mentor in politics is the reason for my political exposure or my unlikely delve into political issues. The dirty waters of the Nigerian types of politics have dented me, in a way, and cost me a number of goodwill and friendship. I have no regrets. Who am I in worth to the betterment of the many poor through politics?  May I die for the poor to be better if I am the reason for their worst?
My role model who was himself a political amateur for shared reasons had earlier broken the principle and contested at last. But it is most unlikely for me. With what I see him go through is a pile of distraction which is already making impact on me and steeling my faith in my principles that I never contest election again, in my life, after the only one ever for an office I relinquish this week.
My new humanitarian assignment in the west is supposed to be purely professional and human. It is. It remains so. But the political colouration that tugs it is the place of assignment – a most unlikely place for a PMB diehard to live and to work. But the great nice line of humanity daunts any political colouration. We are all humans, at first.
Even as I write this, I am thinking about the nice persons I meet here and their kind words, their warm hearts: hard working, committed at work and diligent. A great place, amazing people – they are the very reason that spurred the week’s subject of discussion: their passion and love for work. And this passion for work of the people of the west that prompted this work
But the place has a reputation for being the base for antiBuharianism in recent political experience, at least by the disposition of the leader here, and not the people, even though they are the custodians of the ballot box that keeps bringing the man into leadership and speaking the for the people. Of course there are Buharianists much as they can be in any other place of the APC minority here. I am pleased to have met few.
I have not met him. And even if I do, I will see him as a human and a humane leader who is in touch with the grassroots, evident in the activities since I arrived, around the Fajuyi Park and the ceremony for its launch. The purpose of politics is to touch, to transform lives. And Buhari or Fayose, it is all that I love to see. And thank God, I see it up and down.
I cannot, should not judge a place and a people by the antics of unserious political dramatists. It has been a dream to break the jinx of the exclusive zone of professional experience and expertise of private public service – where there is huge pay as generally acclaimed but really untrue. With or without it, no pay can withstand the expanse of needs on my shoulders, and besides, the more it is, the more the bucket leaks.
It is why I always preach work, service first before pay and never put pay ahead in consideration for a service. There is nothing that can pay for human service. It is God alone who can pay for it. It is this point we often miss that our work is always in jeopardy. We often do not know what we want to really do for a living.
I am glad to mention that one of my young trainees told his fellow graduates and the world through Facebook this, only yesterday: “do not look for any work (because you need the money). Ask those working.”
Haruna Magaji, a graduate looking for job, is this massive right. I am proud of him and his type we trained over the years. It will be well with their kind of minds If you choose a job for the money, when your need is quenched, you will hate doing the work. Look for a work you love and you will love doing.
I had just finished a three-month assignment in my State, where I found myself a stranger now, for all the reasons. I had left in ‘07, a couple of years before the circumstances had befallen my people. And even if I am innocent, I still feel the guilt of the affirm that we destroyed our home, a good place. Yes. We did. It is a lesson. If we learnt it, we are going to rework it.
We can. Going back home to work was nostalgic. I jumped at both the opportunity and the reason to do something to a place that nursed me into life. It was God’s mercy that sent me westwards, may be, that was the only way to survive the carnage that followed. Thank you, O Lord, for the chance of return.
I said I returned east a stranger. Yes. Foreigners and southerners have taken over ownership of the place. They are all over running and propelling the economy. And they’re more homely than the indigenes. They ride in seeming peace of the environment and mind.
The Ibo woman who drives her kids back home from school in the afternoon, of the humanitarian worker who is from east Africa and who now knows names and places I may not know, or I do not know owing to the changing features of some places now.
Reason: I have been away for long and just returning; they have been there for four, five years doing the same thing in different places, meeting different persons and experiences, good and bad.
The wind of strangeness rustles my nerves as I meet and work with them. I am either silent or asking the strangedeneous questions most of the time on many issues. I am the stranger. They are not. They are home because they love what they are doing for humanity and they do it with deep sense of responsibility and self passion to serve.
I was new at the work and at the work place and I don’t know what has been happening; they know much about everything relating to this new work I find myself doing for the first time. But that is not the issue. The better reason is they love to work. They love the work. And they work for whom? Themselves?
No. They work for us, for me, for my people. As I follow them places, I run my face with the guilt against the stark truth of the opposite work value of the strangedeneous: we do not work, we do not want to work. We just anything you want to say more than lazy.
It is just painful how people claim public offices and lurk at home or at majlisses, shunning and shirking public responsibility, in a place that has been through the hell of results of disserve and abuse.
I am happy about this narration I have experienced firsthand. It is a new chapter in my life and should, already is, redefining it. And I am so grateful to God and to His servants that wanted me do it and have helped me in doing it.
It is a great blessing in a long time at a good time that I witnessed a peoples’ disservice to themselves by not being at the front of the work front, by not pulling the strings themselves and others follow them.
It is not authority or position that should determine where you stand at work: front, middle or at the back. It is where you want to be. I have met public service seniors all over, in every state, who always come late, lurk behind and delay work. It is what they chose to be. Nigerians are Nigerians and Africans. And their definition of attitude to public service is a tragedy that mocks the services of donor organisations and the efforts of individual persons making things happen in different places.
The influx of donor agencies is in fact a slap on us that we have failed ourselves, we crippled our institutions and we sabotage efforts at resuscitating them in the context of change. How? The simplest, weakest act of sabotage is doing your work at your pace, delivering results late or not doing your work at all. How many of us are not guilty of this? Few. Why? Spoil. Indolence. It is sad. Terrible. Shameful.
It is against the feeling, offensive to, of the committed strangedeneous’ passion for a need for collective action anyhow – sacrifice, dedication, robust diligence from all – to see the people uplifted or uplift themselves out of circumstances of needs and wants. As a son of the soil, my ears wear a number of times, of complains from the strangedeneous about my people. I hate it when my people are lampooned for any reason. It is painful.
I am not the type of person that takes pleasure in the degrading of other humans. No. It is against my values and personal principles. But then it is true what they say about us. Us. Yes. I am inclusive. It is about us, our attitudes to ourselves: that others come to work for us while we either watch or slow their motion of delivery to our very people. It is most unfair. I was depressed.
Now here, I see the state agents, officials in the forefront. They are at their work. They make my job as it is: support, plan, coordinate. They even do these most of the time, while I watch in amusement. I love to see persons dispensing public responsibility.
It is the opposite of that that fuelled underdevelopment to this stage. We need every effort from everyone and every nook to hold the public up from poverty, disease, ignorance and social inequality. I teach it because I know it. Now I see it because I am here.
I have played bossy, bigman for the past decade, dancing to the tunes of bastard work social norms. With all my evasion of protocol and grip to my sense of humility, I often succumbed to the executive address and treatment: sir, ranka dade. I do not mention the mockeries: you are a big man. They are often laughed off.
I have always been suspicious of any user of the mocked term. It is because I know it is nothing but deceit, lies. Bigness is relative. It is fake. Even if it is there real, it should not be mentioned or answered. It should be seen and felt as grand gratification of office. It should command sincere, earned respect.  And it ends. And if you hold on to it too much, when it shifts, you will fall down.
So I have learnt all along to stand and not lean on the pike of this empty, deceptive bigness. Call me by what I am and by what I do. Call them by the responsibility they dispense and by the efforts we make to aid public/human service deliveries. And we will be eternally grateful to you for the honesty. Tell us what we do wrong because what we do right deserves no mention, let alone kudos.
Bigness of public work derives from diligent service. Goodwill at work derives from commitment to all responsibilities to public office, not by mere answering of the position we occupy. I have always believed that bigness should come not from the lips of cheap praise singers. It should come from your relevance, commitment, hardwork and the goodwill you enjoy because of your service to the public.
This consultancy has paid off. My new experience brings me to reality of the true world. I meet people of all sorts, even the sorts we complain of in the public service. The difference here is that they are negligible minority. The dominant agenda is work, passion for work. In the public service, the dominant agenda is laziness; work at will or late or never. In the worst of organisations, the story is sad.
Thank God I came from a serious organisation to a more serious one. I have huge job gratification in the past decade because my Polytechnic’s checks and balances are inescapable, even if we judge it by the single tradition no other institution practises: auditing of examination scripts.
Staff are sent from other departments and schools to verify the scripts of other departments, examine them vis a vis score sheets, attendance and others. It is a tradition we are proud of. It solves a lot of human problems and arrests any funny act of omission or commission.
It corrects, solves, settles. It is a tradition that validates our issued certificates with the deserved respect it enjoys. And I am proud to work there, to work here, and to take this renewed experience back to my department in order to add value to it. To Allah remains all the glory.

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1 Comment
  1. Zainab Abdullahi says

    All the best.

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