- Finding and reporting news in Abuja can be a thankless job. So every now and again I take time off foreheading* a brick wall to laugh at the things I cannot change. In my Zen state, I can completely overlook the many obstacles to my existence as a news correspondent.
- I can now find lateness amusing. So what if the host of an event operates on ‘African time’. I also absolutely don’t care if they don’t thank or reference the media in their awful speeches or that they continue to make the president their guest of honor for everything. It is perplexing that the less likely he is to show up, the bigger his picture in their program. I would tell them to get over themselves and invite a reasonable alternative, but that would involve caring on my part. And I’m all out of that.
- Sometimes I wonder why they say that the president is heavily represented by his proxy. For the sake of clarity, what the heck does ‘heavily represented’ even mean? And can someone be lightly represented? In my jaded experience ‘heavily representing’ is code for some dude, who shows up 2 hours late and has no idea what is going on, but gets to sit on the high table .
- In the spirit of not caring, I will also stop mocking all excessively long high tables. It really doesn’t matter to me, if there are more people on the high table than attending guests. I will accept the words of all suck-up-MCs who claim that everybody is equal but give special recognition to rich people in the audience (I happen to be familiar with George Orwell’s “some animals are more equal than others” concept) But hey! If anyone ever walks up to an MC after a conference and says ‘I like the way you called my name, here is a million naira!’ I will give up sarcasm.
Just once I would like someone to walk up to the mic and say “Screw protocol**” before jumping into a well writing speech. But I know that that would lead to the collapse of this reality and I am not yet brave enough to meet Walternate.
- Now as stated above, I can forgive almost anything, except Personal Assistants. PAs are antiprogress robots. They give me adult night terrors and make me consider the merits plunging 50 feet of the nearest 50 feet building… on a good day.
- In a logical world, a journalist is the best friend of a PA, if only for the purpose of mutual job preservation. My six month old niece can tell you that providing reporters with information is the easiest path to free publicity. But logic, is on permanent vacation and sass and attitude are her substitutes.
- And for your pleasure, here are my greatest hits of PA
Me: where is the conference hall?
PA: There are many conferences going on!
Me: I’m talking about the one for your organization (she was wearing their logo)
PA: (suddenly suspicious of my ability to read minds) who are you?
Me: I’m with the press (holding up my card)
PA: there are many conferences going on which do you want to attend.
Me: Can I take a look at the program
PA: These are only for guests.
Me: I just want a quick look.
PA: you can if you register for the conference
Me: Okay, how do I do that?
PA: It costs 10,000 naira.
Me: I ‘m part of the media!
PA: (After thinking for a few seconds) 8,000 naira.
Me: Can I look at the program?
PA: (while clutching a stack) there aren’t anymore.
She was hoping here stupidity was contagious.
Me: Can I have one of the free carrier bags.
PA: No they have finished.
Five minutes later with me still standing there she gives one to some guy.
Me: Hey, I thought you said that there were no more
PA: He said that he is our boss’s friend…
Me: So that gives him the power to create carrier bags out of thin air?
PA: (blank look and then disapproving look) he said…
Me: I heard you, I’m not sure you understand English (is what I should have said but I just walked away… I usually just walk away)
- Till PAs become human, I will continue to report from trenches inhabited by people who think muting their phones is tantamount to suicide. While listening to proxys who ‘heavily represent’ others who were too smart to show up.
- * Foreheading: the act of persistently striking and object with your forehead.
** Protocol: is a set of guideline or rules that demand the recognition of all important personnel at an event. This includes interrupting the program to acknowledge latecomers. If a speaker cannot remember all the important people he/she says, “All protocols observed”.