By Uchendu Precious Onuoha
DOING WHAT I LOVE AND LOVING WHAT I DO
Ever since I was a child, and in college, I dreamt of being a writer and working in the press, radio and television media. But I never imagined I would be working as a foreign correspondent outside the shores of father land. I take pride in my job not because of the money that it gives, but because I love what I do. I know I have the responsibility to collect information and disseminate same to a large and heterogeneous audience located far and wide. As it is the responsibility of the Pilot to get the plane off the ground with no problem and land the passengers safely to their destination, so it is my responsibility to source and gather facts to inform, educate, feed and deliver news to my audience through the press. And of importance to me also is to get my audience feedback on the impact of my information and articles. That forms the most satisfying aspect of my job.
The most challenging aspect of my job is that other people depend on me for adequate information on issues. And I am like a vehicle that conveys information from abroad to home, and vice versa. Since 2012, I have been the foreign correspondent of the Daily Independent newspaper and the Nigerian Masterweb in Spain and Europe respectively. During this period, I have been a voice for Nigerians living in Spain and have made their voice heard. And have reported and published numerous articles, interviews, embassy activities and other issues that affect Nigerians living in Spain and Europe.
Newspaper foreign correspondents are few these days as many Nigerian papers and magazines cannot afford to maintain and pay the salary of a foreign correspondent. But I am just one among the few lot that choose to do what I do for the passion I have for my profession and career. I am so proud to have represented and served the press reputably in my status as a foreign correspondent. Sourcing breaking news, interviews, covering important events preparing and reporting articles of great interest to the editors for publication is part of my routine job.
My profession lays on me the onus of a watchdog and societal watchman. In exact sense, like a literal guard dog that barks when it observes a trespasser, my duty requires informing others when problem is noticed. And as a guardian, I have to provide the citizens with adequate information they must have about their leaders as to prevent the abuse of power by those in authority and to inform the people about those that are causing them harm. My job has given me recognition by the government and people, as I was given award recently as “EXAMPLARY CITIZEN” by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Spain, in appreciation of my immense contributions to the cause of the Nigerian community. That means much for someone’s effort and work to be recognized and rewarded by his own people or Nation. I believe that it will go a long way to inspire others to strive to care for the plight of their fellow citizens.
Journalism as foreign correspondent gives me exposure and access to information and who is who in the world. In my job, I have been opportune to cover important events, meet and interview ex-Presidents, Governors, Ambassadors, Sportsmen, Stars, Politicians, death incidents, and victims of acid attacks, International conventions and lots more. Among the very important personalities I have interviewed are, her Excellency, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu the former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, his Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-President of Nigeria, Otunba Gani Adams the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) leader, Helen Mukoro the founder and leader of Union de Todos party in Spain, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu the governorof Abia state of Nigeria, Dr. George Manuwuike Chairman Board of Trustees Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe (NIDOE), Pastor Elvis Iruh the publisher, The Voice Magazine, Mabel Mark, victim of acid attack among others too numerous to mention.
Major and memorable events covered include, The Voice of Achievers Award in Netherlands 2014, Ambassador Ojukwu Town Hall Meetings in Spain, Book presentation in Vancouver Canada, NNAUSA’s 27th Annual National convention Stamford, Conneticut in USA, NIDO Europe AGM 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden among others. Within this period, I have made about 200 published articles in the press. My major target is to be among the journalists that will cover the events of the Rapture, Resurrection and the Judgement day. And after that I will sign off.
When travelling to spots and source of information or incidents, I am always thinking about my readers and audience. I want my readers to know that when I conduct intricate interviews and reports, I am thinking of you. I want my readers to be well informed as your satisfaction is in the forefront of what I do. Your adequate information of news is of utmost importance to me and the Editors I work with as a team to bring the news to your reach. I want to encourage other journalist and those who want to make a career in journalism to go for what they want and love what they do. Don’t relent as it is your duty to shine the light for others to follow. And don’t be scared. With consistency your efforts will gain recognition. Irrespective of the obstacles and barriers do what you love and love what you do. It may not be the easiest path but with determination you can accomplish and attain any height.
Outside journalism, I have had the privilege to set up an NGO. Save African Youths Foundation (SAYF), which is aimed at saving vulnerable youths from crime. In addition to media practice, I am into literary works as a writer and poet. And have authored a book titled, The Road We Travelled, A Memoir of Two Worlds, a book which has been approved for Literature book for college curriculum in Nigeria. My intention is to use my literary works to re-orientate the mindset of African youths towards immigration to Europe and America. And to encourage people to appreciate the values they have as persons, country and race.
I am encouraged to do better when I receive positive criticisms and commendations from people about my works and especially the impacts it makes in their lives. I don’t see myself as having accomplished anything or arrived yet. Rather putting aside the success and failures of yesterday, I march forward to attain to greater heights in my career as to live a legacy and a footprint behind when I am gone. Inside me, I have a yearning, urge, hunger, thirst and appetite for journalism and writing. Writing is the food I eat, it is the water I drink, it is the air I breathe, and it is my music. And for me to live is to write and to write is gain and life indeed.