Back on the beat, by Kazeem Akintunde

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In October 2017, I took a temporary break from Journalism to work with former Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole as his Special Assistant, Communication and Strategy.

This came after I resigned from Leadership Newspaper as Editor, Southern region, covering the entire South-south, South-east and South-west in March 2017, after seven years’ stint with my now late boss, Sam Nda-Isiah.

My plan early in the year was to run and manage an online Newspaper, TheGlittersOnline.com.ng that I had set up prior to my disengagement from Leadership Newspaper. Six months down the line, Professor Adewole came calling and I had to relocate to Abuja to take up the new assignment. Of cause, I couldn’t give the online Newspaper the much-needed attention as working with Prof demanded more than 25 hours out of the available hours in a day. My stewardship with Professor Adewole should be a story for another day as it was an experience that I would cherish for the rest of my life. It was a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Unfortunately, his tenure in the Health Ministry ended in May 2019 as he was not reappointed back into President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet after his victory at the 2019 presidential poll.

But I became a media consultant with Africa Resource Centre, now ARC_ESM, an NGO funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help in getting much-needed health commodities to the last mile in Africa.

The lure back to the newsroom has not abated despite the challenges facing the profession. Journalism is more like a thankless job in this part of the world but once you are hooked, you are hooked for life. A reporter remains one till death unless he stops writing. The madness in the newsroom, the rush to meet deadlines, the camaraderie among colleagues and the inner joy you derive will always lure you back to the profession. It couldn’t have been anything else for me but a job that has taken almost three decades of my life.

Now, I am back on the beat.

I knew I was cut out for journalism as far back as 1976 while in primary school and a pupil of Saint Paul Breadfruit in Lagos Island. The event was the February 13, 1976 coup d’état that cut short the life of the then head of State, General Murtala Mohammed which was Led by Bukar Dimka.

We were in the classroom when news flirted in that there was a coup and the Head of State had been shot very close to my School on his way to Jumat Prayers.

The School premises was soon thrown into confusion as parents rushed in to fetch their wards home. Most teachers hurriedly left the premises after all the pupils were sent home. But rather than head home to be with my parents, I was more interested in knowing what had happened to the Head of State and was soon heading in the direction of Obalende to see things for myself.

Not quite familiar with the area, I missed my way and after wandering for more than four hours, headed home. By then, my parents had been to the school and I couldn’t be found. A report was lodged at the nearest police station for a missing pupil but my parents were told that I could not be declared missing until after 24 hours. By the time I got home, it was already getting dark and I was given the beating of my life. There and then, I made up my mind to become a journalist and that was what I have done in the last 30 years and what, hopefully, I would do till I meet my Maker.

Being at events and reporting it for others to read, gives me inner joy. I enjoy being part of the history making-process and telling it as it is.

It is for this reason that this column, titled ‘Monday Discourse’ will be your weekly companion going forward.

We intend to use our experience –  garnered over the past 30 years to educate, entertain and inform Nigerians on happenings in the polity. We shall discuss issues ranging from Politics to Business, Religion, Leadership, Followership and many of the societal ills that have held Nigeria back from attaining greatness. We would not boot-lick, but speak truth to power. We shall hold government accountable to the people and at the same time, offer practical solutions on how to overcome most of our developmental challenges.

Join the train and come along. It is going to be an interesting journey.

See you next week!

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