Good day Mr. Ekene.
First, I would like to know who the Man Ekene Odigwe is.
To some of my audiences who might not know you, how would you describe yourself to them?
I like that line where you said, “he is a being that is using the media as a tool to mediate, advocate and push for ideas and conversations.” I would like to know, is there any project that you have been involved with? One that people can easily remember, or might have had the most impact by your assessment?
So it was in February 2018, Enugu State Post Primary School Management Board repainted secondary school walls around the metropolis with a message that undermined human rights and destroyed the achievements of many years of HIV advocacy,
These mural had messages like “Cultist are HIV positives stay away from them” at the first instance it may not look like Much but think it this way, every cultist has HIV, discriminate against them, or even more so once a secondary school student is tested positive to HIV that means they are Cultist, what the harm these messages will cause is one No one, especially in the secondary school, would like to go for HIV test again for the sake of being labeled, because they are not tested, there is a high possibility that they will be engaging in unprotected sex, the end product is we will have high cases of sick students and no one would know until it’s too late.
They are sending young people who are HIV positive into hiding and even labeling them cultists. Once a young person is said to be positive the next conclusion is, this person is a cultist.
Not all HIV positive persons are CULTISTS and not all Cultists are HIV Positives. So I led the online and radio campaign asking PPSMB to take that down and engage a professional. Lots of persons joined in that campaign and sometime in March or so PPSMB cleaned all of that and put out a new message.
When next someone tells you that Online Advocacy doesn't work.— Ekene Odigwe (@Ekeneodigwe) February 20, 2019
Remind them, that theirs didn't work because –
1) They didn't employ the right model.
2) There's a mismatch of content and tools utilized.
So, they should hire @Ekeneodigwe to help.
We did this guys! 🙌💯♥ pic.twitter.com/kk0U4KKU3p
The most recent project I have been involved with is the Training of Southeast Journalists on Fact-checking and telling Impactful stories. So as journalists the bulk of public enlightenment lies with us, but what happens if these journalists don’t know?
Take the case of COVID-19. Nigeria is a muti-diverse, religious and political country and with the advent of social media, news dissemination and cycle has changed, everyone is a citizen journalist, I can’t stop a moving train but I can lay a better track for it. Therefore with the help of International Press Center Lagos, European Union, Us Embassy and Radio Nigeria Enugu Zonal Station I was able to move around 5 southeast states and 6 cities training journalists. The impact as you can see on the survey tells the rest of the story.
This is really nice. So how about you educate the audience on the roles of a journalist in achieving the SDGs?
People need to understand that the SDGs are not “Ife ndi ocha”, it’s the new commandment if we are to enjoy this life. journalists have to understand the goals, then go a step further to integrate that into their every day reports and stories.
See the human brain is wired to recognize patterns and narrative especially if those patterns and stories support what they hold dear, consequently, Journalists have to tell their stories from a human angle perspective using relativity for clarity. That way the people you’re educating can follow the line of logic and see reason.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. If journalists can explain to their audience that if they take care of their environment, the environment in return will take care of them, people will abide. Believe it no one wants to die prematurely.
Therefore, Sweep Your house, bag your waste that you may stay clean and healthy, Make a good policy to protect the poor and in return the poor won’t rob you, siphon your fuel because they will be busy at work and exhausted at night.
Journalists need to see and appreciate the SDGs so they could use that to tell impactful stories that will also educate their audience.
Thank you so much. Now I am sure some persons have been able to better understand the concept of SDGs through this. In executing these programs, how do you reach out to organizations that will support your movement. This seems to be one of the greatest challenges most new NGOs and organizations face?
Also, what challenges have you come across while executing some of these projects that you mentioned earlier?
Social media is a huge resource for me, when I executed the ending Female Genital Mutilation project most of the partners were met online, most of them reached out to me which brings me to point of credibility. When you are credible, consistent and accountable people can trust and work with you.
For the fact-checking training, I pitched to the organization and they helped smooth things out with other partners again they did that because they trusted my brand and my deliverables.
NGOs need to identify what they have and seek other NGOs that will complement their work. Some don’t get what they should because of greed or distrust…once that is out of the way it’s a smooth ride all the way. Another thing all must not be monetary, give them a list of what you need and point them in the direction. It’s now left for them to determine how to proceed.
Getting the government or authorities to listen in to your idea was my challenge, but it also gave me an opportunity to explore other options to get them to listen, this is why I don’t describe myself as a broadcast journalist rather a cross-functional journalist, so I blog, write for national news sites and news blogs, host tweet chats and Instagram conversations, radio and WhatsApp class. There’s always a way to get the message across.
The second challenge was road travels, my goodness! During the south-east training, I have to spend a whole day to get to my destination because the roads were not smooth. But in all of that, I started another campaign of how bad roads were and how clean or dirty the cities were. That way I channelled my anger into something more productive.
Finally, bureaucracy could be a challenge, some would argue that it’s about due-process, yes I agree but we also need to be flexible about issues especially when it is of public urgency.
From what I have gathered so far, I might just be right to say that you can also say some things about storytelling for journalist. I believe it is the main means of getting your messages across on social media sites and some aspects of your blog as a writer.
So what can you say about it?
How have you used it, and what impact do you think it has made for you?
It probably would be worth reading. What is your life goal? Like, what do you want to be remembered for at the end of this earthly journey? What drives you?
My Life goal is to own a digital journalism Center across Africa that will be a safe hub for program facilitators, Journalists, Advocates and anyone interested in improving media practice and building a network of fact-checkers.
After I lost two (2) friends to child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation in a place where three (3) Non-for profit organizations were working on gender-related issues, I didn’t quite get why such should happen even though they have signage and offices instituted in the community so I made it my life work to educate and enlighten anyone and everyone through every medium, that is my drive, that everyone and anyone can access and understand information.
This is just well understood. The pain of losing loved ones to things that could be avoided easily! It’s a pity. What advice would you give to the budding journalists who might want to be like you?
First thing first, ask yourself why you want to be a journalist, answering that will help them understand what type of journalism that interest them. The next step will be positioning its brand for opportunities. All these are steps, missing one will destabilize their growth. Let me explain further if you know why you’re looking for what you seek it will help you refine and more so define your search.
Now that you know, you build. Afterwards, you start exporting the skill. You can only recognise an opportunity if you’re positioned and ready for it. Finally, don’t be distracted, be humble, take corrections, learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to reach out for collaborations.
Words from a wise man. I really appreciate your time. Last question, what’s your best music track and how can you be reached?
Chike’s Watching over me speaks to me at different levels of my being and I can be reached @Ekeneodigwe on all socials.
Nice. It just has to be Chike. Lolzz. Thank you so much for your time and all the clarification. I appreciate your presence and time here today.
Thank you so much Ekene
Yes, it has to be…the Guy nwere swag! Thanks for having me. I appreciate your patience.