Oga Journalist, when last do you check your BP - Islanders Magazine

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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Oga Journalist, when last do you check your BP

....Heartrending tribute to Late Jide Fashikun by Wale Ojo Lanre

As fallen colleague, Fashikun, embarked on terminal journey today
Third Sunday of November last year, I felt very dizzy while driving to the office that hot afternoon. I made a quick stopover at a very big pharmaceutical outfit, to get at least a first aid.
On entry, I was lucky to meet the pharmacist. After explaining to him, he asked; “when last did you check your Blood Pressure (BP)?” “I can’t really remember,” I replied. “Then, let me take your BP first,” he ordered.
Afterwards, the pharmacist said: “Oga, where are you going to?” “Editorial meeting,” I replied. “Oh, you are a journalist! No wonder. Oga, you cannot go anywhere now, you seriously need bed rest,” he mockingly said but with tone of finality, without betraying his feeling on the gravity of the result of my BP.
Confused, I asked him why and his reply was shocking and terrifying. “Oga, any attempt to drive to town or do any stressful activity now might result to collapse or something more precarious. Your BP is dangerously very low. In fact, yours is the lowest I have seen in recent times. Your BP is 85/65 instead of the normal 120/80.”
In panic, I immediately put a call across to my editor to excuse me from the editorial meeting that day, explaining to him what happened. “Roma, don’t bother coming, just make sure you take good care of yourself. Sorry o,” he said encouragingly.
I equally put a call across to my collage father, Dr Nnadi, a neurosurgeon, and apprehensively explained to him what I was going through. His breakdown of what happened to me provided the respite and succour I desperately needed. “Retired sportsmen are usually prone to low BP. Don’t panic, do this, do that and very soon, it will be boosted,” he said, prescribing the drugs I should take.
As I reflect on the death of Jide Fashikun, a professional colleague, who collapsed few weeks ago, suffer partial paralysis before his health situation degenerated to multiple organ failures at a hospital in Abuja on Sunday morning, it dawn on me why the pharmacist made that sarcastic comment, “are you a journalist, no wonder.”
If there is medical prove that neglect of our BP could lead to paralysis and or stroke, I now realised how narrow I got to the grave that afternoon if there was no divine intervention through the pharmacist. Thousand and one journalists like me don’t just have time to go for health examination even for something as little as checking our BP.
Unbelievably, despite the warning from the pharmacist that historic Sunday, I was out on the field the Monday morning. Don’t even ask me whether I have gone to check my BP since that time even after the Christmas ‘enjoyment’, because the answer is better imagined than said.
To most hardworking journalists, office and self-imposed pressures to meet deadlines and byline targets remain a priority they always place above their health. Most of us neglect our health so much perhaps because of lack of finance or outright carelessness.
Fashikun was everything encapsulated, handsome, tall, cerebral, athletic built like Israeli army, presentable, jovial with infectious smiles, a writer per excellence, intelligent, a grammarian of oratorical magnitude, an administrator, a lecturer, thorough-bred investigative journalist, a multi-linguist, multi-talented sportsman of national and international repute, a great man, a golden fish difficult to ignore, name it.
Like many other journalists, he was always physically looking very healthy so much so that many thanked God for giving him sound health. For once, I never heard him complain of any serious health challenge. He was battle ready at all times to deliver. He was an asset and a delight to the administrators yet a weapon of mass destruction.
As a true warrior, he won countless battles with his acidic biro which earned him detentions at security facilities, but could not win this latest battle from a deadly enemy attack which came like heartless robbers at night to steal him.
He worked for himself and others to the point of becoming the journalist administrators loved to hate and like. However, while working very hard, he might have perhaps forgotten how close he inched to his grave with a BP as high as over 200.
Instructively, he unarguably did to the administrators more than what their sons or relatives could do to them, yet the best he perhaps got from them was picking his medical bills at a Nigeria hospital instead of flying him abroad as they would have easily done if he were any of their relatives.
Like the former chairman NUJ FCT Chapter, late Chuks Ehirim, who met his untimely death regrettably because of the inability to raise a paltry sum as deposit to commence treatment at an Abuja hospital, Fashikun, who worked very hard for many administrators, may perhaps be full of regrets that they watched him helplessly, as usual, trek into his early grave.
Journalists suffer for administrators without appreciation. If they become close to them while discharging their professional responsibility, they would be derogatorily labelled establishment journalists. Yet if they become the thorn in their flesh, they lace, round their neck, blackmailers and or extortionists.
They build and nurture the administrators from nothing to stardoms only to get scornful brand in return. Yesterday, the administrators that were no persons, become assets today as products of media creation, only turn around to denigrate the same journalists that made them.
Except for an insignificant few journalists, the most difficult thing is for the administrators to empower them, regardless of the contributions they may have made in their ascendance to the throne of grace. Don’t be deceived when they throw some cash at you occasionally because as they say, they must have pocketed hundred times as much.
Naturally, they prefer to empower their lady cronies to helping journalists even when they desperately need publicity. I was among the Nigerian delegation to Mozambique many years ago, I secured an interview appointment with the Minister leading the delegation, went at night as agreed, only to be told by a pimp that I won’t see him. Why? “He is busy with a doctor,” he told me.
I initially pitied him thinking that he was sick, but the pimp shockingly informed me that the doctor was screening five Mozambican ladies he (the pimp) brought to the Minister, for HIV. He added that having delivered; he was just waiting for his share of the bargain, shocking me further that he will collect $100 from the $300 the Minister would pay each of the screened ladies.
He later granted me the interview inside the aircraft enroute Nigeria, but guess what I got after the interview, “Romanus thank you very much, God bless you. I visited his office months after, only to see the full page interview I conducted, placed strategically. That is the life of journalists for you.
The society even has a more disparaging tag on journalists. Remember the brown envelop derogatory mantra? Journalists fight injustice for others, yet nobody fights for them. They report unpaid salaries for public and private workers, yet many of them work under more terrible conditions with unpaid salaries running into three to four years. They passionately report the victimisations of workers, yet they face worse working conditions.
I have since became worried that most journalists see themselves as direction arrows - only good enough to show others the directions to wealth and treasury but not good enough to pass through them.
We can however change the narratives by first prioritising our health above any other thing notwithstanding the situation. Fashikun is gone and as Tai Solarin of blessed memory advised, let the fall of a dead leaf constantly remind us, the green ones, of the imminence of such fate.
Jide is no more with unending encomiums and tributes pouring in, but can those of us still alive ever learn anything? Yes, we must continue with our natural assigned responsibility of mirroring the society and if it pleases God that journalists remain perpetually deprived, may we accept it but make efforts to prioritise our health.
How many times do we engage in physical exercise beyond our involvement in ‘bedminton’ games? When last did you check your BP? These are pertinent questions requiring quick action because many untimely deaths can be avoided through religiously checking our BP.
Goodbye Jide, goodnight Fashikun.

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