It is Good Friday and to God be the glory. This is my diary and I am a Roving Public Interest lawyer, bringing VITAL out of OBITER.
I have been keenly interested in the media and the whole gamut of information dissemination machinery from my childhood.
Anytime I am in the newsroom of both print and electronic media, I am always at home. Like the water is a place of rest and peace for the fish, so is the newsroom for me. If I had not read law, I would have ended up a professional journalist, needless to say I christen myself a freelancer.
I think I must have been baptized into this interest by my father’s ardent love and habit of daily newspaper reading. I combed the length and breadth of Ado-Ekiti, old Ondo State in search of his newspapers, when his vendor did not make them readily available. He would buy one or two daily.
By the time we relocated to Ondo, Ondo State in 1983, my maternal grandmother, Mama Muniratu FAWEHINMI would buy newspapers for her to follow the activism of his radical son, Chief Gani FAWEHINMI as reported in the newspapers. I would read the papers to her to the best of my understanding and interpret same in Ondo dialect.
My name appeared in print for the first time on Friday, June 10, 1988, when I The Punch Newspaper published my letter to the editor, titled, ‘Soldiers Molest Us,’ an account of how my father was harassed by a military man, who entered our compound. That letter was handwritten and magnanimously edited by my elder cousin, Mr. Folajole OLAGOKE before it was dispatched to Lagos from Ondo through NIPOST.
Since June 10, 1988, I have written countless articles, letters and position papers. I have tried to collate them to the best of my ability to a bibliography of over 205 pages, updated last in June 2019. The bibliography is a catalogue of references to my printed works online and offline since 1988.
In 1988, I relocated to Lagos to live with my uncle, Chief Gani FAWEHINMI of blessed memory.
My uncle did not only daily collect all the existing newspapers, he was also always in the news. His stories were breaking news countless times. He was an editor and interviewer delight. I am not aware of any Nigerian dead or alive, who made newspaper and magazine covers like Chief Gani FAWEHINMI. Wow!!! He had his ways with words and the appropriate body language to do with it. He was an actor of words and chief of spontaneity both in court and before the press. He was passionate, a man of many words and master of all. He used words wisely and strategically. Wordsworth!
He was also a very close friend to the press. I met veterans media practitioners like Sola ODUNFA, Richard AKINNOLA, Owei LAKEMFA, Edwin MADUNAGU, Tunji DARE, Odia OFEIMUN, Lanre AROGUNDADE, Nosa IGIEBOR, Onome OSIFO-WISKEY, Dare BABARINSA, Ayodele AKINKUOTU, Ohi ALEGBE, Adbul OROH, Bayo ONANUGA, Dapo OLORUNYOMI, Babafemi OJUDU, Seye KEHINDE, Dele MOMODU, Eze ANABA, Akin ADESOKAN, Austin AGBONSUREMI, Naiwu OSAHAN, May Ellen EZEKIEL, just to mention a few in the company of my uncle, while I was yet a teenager.
My uncle would find time to read all the newspapers. Two sets of all the available newspapers were bought daily, so were local and international magazines weekly. One set was for the office and another set for his chambers and library.
My uncle was very keenly meticulous about been accurate. So you would find him checking multiple sources to trangulate and verify a news item before making a comment. He was so passionate about his cause, but he was self-moderated by his knack for accuracy. He would deliberately and keenly source information from CNN, BBC, AFP, VOA and other notable news organisations before voicing his position on any matter.
I do not think there was anytime he was caught napping, when it came to presenting accurate information to his teeming followers and admirers. He was quick to hear and slow to speak.
I think being his unofficial Personal Assistant for many years his meticulousness in handling information rubbed off well on me and I testify today that it is a priceless legacy bequeathed to me.
Also my training as a lawyer and above all a reasoning being help me to develop the rugged habit of being quick to hear, slow to process, slower to believe and share my views about same. I want to check a source, it’s credibility, trangulate with multiple and other reputed sources, put my personal value, logic and thinking cap on before appending the priceless energy of my belief to any piece of information.
Dr. Mike Murdock many years ago said, ‘those who pass information also pass error. It is therefore your responsibility to process information.’
The real question here is that how do you process information, if you do not have a properly and internally installed and constantly honed processor?
We are in a world today, where sources of information are overdemocratized. Almost everybody has access to countless media platforms with very loose regulations, including the discipline of self-regulation.
I painfully submit that it is a miserable time and season for those who do not have a processor, who have by that reason become dumping grounds and tossed to and fro by every wind of information.
It is a complicated situation for many. Sources of information are uncountable and uncontrolled, so they come in torrential deluge, ready to drown the unwary. Yet, we are dealing with a global health crisis, which almost all of us, including medical practitioners are learning about its behaviour and treatment, all at the same time.
The situation of the world today fuels an environment in which the majority fans the embers of misinformation, half-truths and falsehood to which many have succumbed. Innocence, mischief, deliberate attempt to hoodwink the unwary members of the public for personal or institutional gains are often at the root causes of the game.
It is in midst of all of these that I declared a SANITY FAST. What exactly is this fast all about? How can you join if it makes sense to you? What are the benefits to my spirit, soul and body? I invite you to join me next week as I share with you the part of my diary, where I have stored the concluding part of this conversation.
Do stay SAFE, STRONG and INSPIRED.
Here is your Dearly Beloved Roving Public Lawyer, Taiwo AKINLAMI
(C) 2020 Taiwo AKINLAMI