The joy of journalism is that you can afford to do the impossible.
Given the fact that we do have many powerful sources as journalists, we can get into circles where mere mortals can only dream of.
During the heyday of then President Olusegun Obasanjo, for instance, there was once the opportunity of flying out of Lagos early in the morning and getting to Aso Rock to interview the sitting president and getting back to Lagos before sundry workers could well get to their Lagos offices!
I once wrote a column entitled “At Sea in Niger Delta” which left many of my readers wondering how I managed to stay all of 36 hours on the volatile waters of the Niger Delta without getting kidnapped or even killed during those bad days of militancy.
Well, let me now inform these readers of how I wangled a trip in a chopper, a helicopter, inside the vastness of the Niger Delta.
As a true journalist, I will not reveal my source. This strategic source of mine was talking of hiring a helicopter to go to an oil platform in an island off the coast of Port Harcourt.
I told him point-blank that I will accompany him on the trip. He said my cover as a journalist will be blown and I risked being killed or jailed or whatever.
“Don’t cry for me,” I replied, adding, “Just get me a space in the helicopter and I’ll take care of myself.”
So, off we went to Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Base in Port Harcourt. The helicopter people gave us pre-flight safety instructions as we boarded the small chopper.
I did not bother to listen much to what the safety man was saying, save to put the proffered helmet on my head alongside the ear aid.
It took just 15 minutes’ flight to land on the helipad on the oil platform near the town of Idama in Rivers State.
We had to descend a very steep staircase into the main building. Then we got into a boat for the journey into the town of Idama proper.
The Idama traditional town square is dominated by the statue of the ancestral mother of the town, known as “Mother of Wealth”, from whose redoubt one can clearly set eyes on the Generator house built by the Idama Regional Development Council (RDC) under sponsorship by an oil company.
The oil company I would not name did not end with just the construction of the generator house and the purchasing of 36.5 KVA soundproof generating set; the power line was equally extended to every home thus aiding the town in unfailing electrification unlike most of us that suffer power outage.
Idama thus boasts of two working generators; one generator is from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). There is electric light all over the community, all days and nights, 24/7.
So unlike major cities in Nigeria which complain of lack of power, here is one town that never ever knows darkness!
Aside from the road of the town, drainage, generator and generator house, the Idama RDC has also with support of the selfsame oil company renovated the six-classroom block at Government Secondary School, Idama. The work was commissioned by then Governor Rotimi Amaechi on December 14, 2007.
The teachers’ quarters built by the selfsame oil company in partnership with the Idama RDC are all of 10 self-contained rooms. The science laboratory built through this partnership is spick and span, enabling the students to put their experiments to work while I was there watching with my source.
The Idama water borehole was made possible by the oil company, completing the picture of Idama town as one example of what is possible when a host community works in tandem with the oil and gas companies.
Exploring the town is a joy in itself; most of the locals are laid back, enjoying their lives as best they can.
I saw a young girl of about 20 who was the most beautiful damsel I had ever set my eyes on. She could be the so-called mammy-water for all I cared. I had to make a detour into the woods by the edge of the sea in my bid to confront her frontally.
When I opened my eyes on getting out of the woods she was nowhere to be seen again. Ever! She had disappeared.
A tear for me, poor journalist of desire!