Every wannabe in any Lagos newsroom wants to be an editor. I am different. Call me a reporter, and I will take a bow and a beer. Thank you.
I don’t know how it happened, but everybody just started calling me The Poet. It got to the poetical point that the master football coach Alabi Aisien’s beautiful daughter, Lila Aisien, dedicated a poem to me entitled “There are only coins in the poet’s pocket”. Nota bene: Na poor I poor, I no crase…
Facts are sacred. An editor is just a glorified armchair critic, without the critical grigri. The reporters and the writers do all the hard work, and the editor idly sits on his chair deigning to make corrections. A tear for Editor Toni Kan!
There was this publisher who felt that making me an editor was equal to sending me to Heaven without the bad business of dying. The jumped-up publisher used to be a politician in the Second Republic and his father was amongst the earliest wealthiest men from the East. The publisher took his father’s title which will take up all the space allocated to this article if I should dare to write it out here. So let’s leave out all long matters to Longmans publishers!
The publisher set up a glossy monthly magazine called Society well ahead of its time. The comfy office was at the 13th or so floor of a high-rise building on Beckley Street, Onikan, Lagos Island. Actually, when I went to Canada and the Canadians saw that I worked in Lagos Island they felt very sorry for me with their knowledge that any island in Africa can only be accessed via swimming. I told them I always preferred going to work swimming backstroke!
To stop myself from writing what we used to call “OP” alias Off-Point back in secondary school, let me get back from Canada to the Lagos office and the magazine.
There were lush photo shoots of the ravishing beauty Regina Askia for the maiden cover of the magazine. In the grapevine were photos of a certain Bianca Onoh before her double-barreled acquisition of Odumegwu-Ojukwu! In very controversial circumstances the very hot photos had to be dropped – like hot potatoes, as the cliché goes…
Please don’t forget that I introduced the publisher as a former politician. There were political scores to settle. A cover story suddenly appeared of a failed marriage contraption intervolving Arthur Nzeribe and Patience Mbakwe, the daughter of former Imo State Governor Sam Mbakwe. The gist was that Nzeribe proposed marriage to Patience whilst her father was governor only to develop cold feet after the military takeover.
When the story hit the newsstands Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was livid, remonstrating with the magazine for wanting to destroy a man “who would help us to fight our enemies”, whatever that means.
Amid all the controversies, the publisher raised the matter of me being the editor. He was quite forthcoming with the perks of a choice car, a chauffeur etc. Then he raised very prosaic issues: that I must resume at the office at 9am everyday – and I must wear suit and tie to work!
Mba! Mba! Mba! “I will not do that,” I said to the astonished publisher as I looked fondly over my natty T-shirt and tatty jeans trousers.
“I insist,” said the publisher, staring snobbishly at my get-up.
“But I have an option,” I said.
“What?” the publisher asked.
“I can resign.”
“Are you serious?”
“In short, I have in fact resigned!” I got up and was heading towards the door.
“Yo, wait for me, Borojah,” said my deputy, Pita Okute, who was overhearing my discussion with the publisher. “Me, too, I have resigned!”
So the man who would have taken over from me joined me in the lift and we went down together to drink our last beers in Mubo’s Bar, before heading back to our mainland shacks, completely koboless.