By Tony Momoh
In our march through time, we move from one life’s station to another. We acknowledge these movements in many ways.
The author of Ecclesiastes 3, verse 1–8, reflects these stations incomparably by telling us that to everything there is a season; and, a time for every purpose under heaven. The big picture is that there is time to be born and time to die.
While we are here, we plant and pluck what is planted; kill and heal; break down and build up; weep and laugh; mourn and dance; cast away stones and gather stones; embrace and refrain from embracing; gain and lose; keep and throw away; tear and sew; keep silence and speak; love and hate; war and peace.
For a long, long time, many kept quiet and a few spoke about how well or badly we have manifested life in this country which is the little acre in which we must attend the school of life. The current station of life started with the return to civil rule in 1999.
I watched closely to know how we in the media performed the function of monitoring governance which the people said we should do on their behalf. By November of 1999, and with the prompting of the publisher of the Vanguard titles, Mr. Sam Amuka, I found myself, having identified an area of weakness in media monitoring, opting to tackle the agenda-setting role the media must perform if they did not want to miss out on what their obligation to monitor entailed.
You see, we were not only expected to tell the people what those who perform different functions on behalf of the public were doing in the area of attempts to ensure the security and welfare of the people; we were also expected and, in fact, instructed to buy into the dreams and be part of fulfilling them.
We had, therefore, to look at the dreams settled in chapter 2 of the constitution – who the boss is between the government and the people, the road we have chosen to take in governance, the objectives of state and directives on how they should be met, et al – and deploy the communication armoury in doing our part of the job.
The functions include informing the public about what is happening in all areas of our political, social, economic, educational, cultural, environmental and foreign policy strivings. This informing includes pointing out the good, the bad and the ugly in what we do. So, we must know what we are supposed to do and how we are doing it.
This was an area I took up in November 1999 after watching closely what we in the media were doing and discovering that there was no focused attempt to tie everybody down to the document that made all of us what we thought we had become.
So, I told Sam I would write a column titled Point Of Order. And, this I have done with only a break in 2003 when I went into the field after the death of Harry Marshall of Rivers State who was murdered by those who are still walking the streets free without being caught, tried and put away into where they should pay the price of infamy. Since that 1999, I have attended to all departments of our lives in governance and I claim a pass mark for myself in the area of serious research, objective presentation of my findings, and honest attempt to reflect reactions to my writing.
One thing I have also done is to compile what I have done for posterity. Now, there are two volumes of the offerings we have been giving to you every Sunday in this column; and the third is ripe for the works as we announce the decision to move to another station of life soon. Details in a minute.
Between 1999 and 2003, we gave you 172 pieces, now available as Volume 1 of Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary. It was published in 2003 and is well indexed for ease of reference on the many areas of the Constitution that were called upon in analysing the way our legislative, executive and judicial bodies carried out their assigned duties.
We did not restrict our menu to only those in public office; we also attended to the various bodies in the private sector and had no hesitation at all to move across dimensions as long as they helped in illumination of life and living.
We also have a Volume 2 of the monitoring updated to 2008. The pieces here were more detailed in comparison to those in volume 1. There are 141 of them, with two appendices on the Making of Great Columnists and To Save Nigeria Let’s Talk. We have not talked and the need to do so is more necessary now than at any other time in our recent history.
As I move out of this station of manifesting life on these pages, we have 154 pieces for you which will constitute Volume 3 of Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary. So, with effect from 6 a.m. of Thursday, January 6, 2011, I move into the public domain, to be watched and monitored as I have done to others over the years.
In this new station of life, oversight functions have to be performed on me and my team by the media, among many other bodies, official and unofficial, and by the world that has been watching us meet the commitments of governance more in breaching the rules of governance than in their observance.
For the first time in my life, I stood election and asked people to vote for me. And, they did at the first convention of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which took place at Eagle Square in Abuja between January 4 and 5. I stood election for the office of National Chairman of the party.
Part of what I said should give you an idea of what I am pushing myself into. I told the party delegates from the 36 states of the country and FCT: “The difference between CPC and some other parties is that someone, like me, could be here to lead a party without paying to achieve it…
The reason many of you asked me to come is that I would have an opportunity or the challenge of proving what I have also laid claim to – order, discipline, integrity, transparency et al in all I do. Silver and gold I don’t have, but such as I have I will give…I am allergic to corruption, arbitrariness, unholy compromises that derail.
I promise you, we will not be derailed by any person or group of persons to achieve the dream of the founding fathers of CPC…”
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not know where or when we shall meet again. But, as I said on March 9, 2003, in quitting this scene, in my piece, Goodbye Harry, and Goodbye, “If I am done with (this) assignment, I may return. But, if I don’t, then, as the saying goes, the parting was well made. I thank you for giving me your time every Sunday since November 7, 1999. God bless you. God save Nigeria.” (See page 530, Vol. 1, Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary).