I still miss my Beat in the Newsroom — Mary Noel-Berje
1 week ago
Opinion / Stories
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Mary Noel-Berje, was a newscaster with the Nigeria Television Authority, (NTA), Minna, Niger State, but the newly appointed Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello is already missing her Beat in the Newsroom.
She joined the Authority 21 yrs ago,(1998) and has worked in the Programmes department before crossing over to the Newsroom and became a Principal Staff. She served as the Niger State Government House Correspondent under the administration of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu for eight years before she was recently appointed by the present administration of Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello as the Chief Press Secretary, thereby becoming the first Female Chief Press Secretary in Niger State Until her appointment, she is also the incumbent Chairperson of NAWOJ in the State.
How she received the news….
It was the Chief of Staff that invited me to his office to inform me about the appointment. It was like seeking my consent and the first thing that came out of my mind was some questions-Do you people find me capable enough, do you think I can meet up your expectations, do you think I can do it and do you think I am good enough?
These questions came out from me not because I doubted my ability but it was an appointment never envisaged at all.
There are processes that come with this but I just never envisaged that this could come to me and probably, this was what forced the questions out from me.
Honestly, it has been a task but I really thank God from where I am coming from and that is NTA family because as women, we have also worked like men and no doubt, my strength so far is from my experience in NTA so it had been a good journey so far.
Any role of godfatherism in your appointment?
No, no-no. Heaven knows. It is something I did not lobby for or ever knew how it came about.
However, one will always want to get better in life and you want to be up there or at the peak of your profession and you might not know how this thought would come to fruition. Remember that the destiny of anybody is in the hands of God but when you work into your destiny, it will just come right into your palm, and probably, that is what has happened in my case. God did it.
Do you believe in godfatherism?
(Long pause) God fatherism is working in Nigeria but in my own case, though I will not stop thanking the present administration, I don’t think my Principal-Governor Abubakar Sani Bello works with that because in the first instance, where is the father I really went through but God just used him to bring me on board.
I wasn’t the best out of all the Candidates on the ground but also remember that God will never come down to do anything for you. He will channel it through somebody and Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is the tool God used for me to attain this goal.
The nursing ambition of going into politics in the future?
(Laughs) You know as it is, my eyes are now open to some things. When we were operating from outside, there are a lot of things one did not know about. Hmm… My destiny is really in the hand of God. However, I think if politics is practised in truthfulness, some of us may really want to go into politics because it is about service and I think I am someone that will want to serve my people the more if given the opportunity but then, I call myself now a Professional Politician.
Nigeria ripe for a woman Governor or President?
From the little experience I have, there are things that are not rocket science. We as humans especially Nigerians are the ones making it look very dicey or something like that. What stops women from being governors? Certainly, when the right things are put in the right place, governance will have its effectiveness for whoever finds his/herself in governance.
It is about putting the right thing in the right place and having an operational mechanism in place. Definitely, things will move smoothly so woman governor is not a Rocket Science just like it is not rocket science that a female is a journalist. To be a woman governor is a thing that can be achieved, attained and it is doable. We have very intelligent Nigerian women that can aspire and attain the post. At Central Bank level, we have a female Deputy Governor and if a female is running the Economic Sector, why won’t she succeed as a governor because most of these offices have to do with the economy and if you can put your Economy in good shape and human resource, then you should be able to have good governance so, a woman being a governor is not something that we should be doubting or arguing at this point because we have gone a long way.
Women not supporting themselves in politics….
(Voice raised).Forget it. The men should be magnanimous enough in their own thinking to see that we can analyse this woman that if put her in this position, she will do something new and we should give her a trial so if we think it is the women that are not really supporting themselves, let the Men support them and you will see how it will be. We are supporting the men now and let the men now turn to the women and give them full support.
Can a woman really weather the political storm?
What stops a woman from weathering the storm? It is the same intelligence applied by men in putting up measures that the educated woman will also use to put things right. The women went to school too and they are ready to put what they acquired in school to governance and it will work especially when they get the right people to work with.
Is the Minister of Finance not a woman and is she not performing? We also have so many women all around who have done well in the past and many of them are still holding more sensitive posts across the country and even outside.
Few could have some dents but the men have dents equally and so that is not enough to castigate or hang the women.
Did you bargain what you are seeing in the office now?
The political terrain is another school of its own.
When I first met my Boss after the appointment to appreciate him, he empowered me with these words-” just do your work, do not be intimidated, just know your work and do it.”
Each time I wanted to be intimidated in the course of discharging my duty, the challenge from my boss just comes into my mind and energises me.
It is just like hearing the voice of God because you cannot run away from it and some people, when they see me now doing some things, challenge me by saying, you are doing this because you are a woman and I tell them back that I am not only a woman but I know my job so sometimes, I want to fight back. You know sometimes in the Newsroom, you will beat the table, insult yourselves just to make things work, and achieve our goal because we are members of the same family.
Comparing working as a journalist and press secretary….
Honestly, I miss, my job especially presentation but then, if you have to go ahead, you do not have to look back. Anytime you are progressing, you do not need to look back much.
I thank God that what I am presently seeing here is what I have seen before as a journalist who covered this same Government House for years but the only difference is that I was on the attack then than now that I am on the defense.
I call on my subordinates here, put heads together just like in the Newsroom before dishing any information out in order not to misinform the public.
Here, my job is more politically inclined but however, I still have my conscience guarding me.
Relationship with my Boss (Governor)/shying away from the press….
My relationship with my boss is very cordial. We talk over issues generally and often and that is why we come out with immediate solutions about what has to do with publicity.
The perception of keeping away from journalists is a thing of the past because since I came on board, we have made drastic moves and we have been able to speak aloud to the Press.
He is not shy. He is just himself. He is not a propagandist by nature and would not want to talk every time even when he is working and achieving. He is a realist. If he says he is doing this, he wants to see that he has done it. He does not want you to go and say what is not because it is not part of him.
However, as the image-maker, we know it goes beyond this and we are seriously working to make things better. As a Governor, he gives a lot of directives and how the person given the directive carries it out matters.
Looking at governance closely, you will discover that it is we people that fail governance because the Governor must have played his own role by giving directive and we as the public or implementors are left to carry out our own responsibilities. Governance is not easy at all.
My clarion call to the people is that we should see Governance as a collective responsibility and not that of the Governor alone.
For my immediate Constituency, (Journalists), I hope to work collectively and effectively with them so as to see to the success of this administration in particular and the success of the State in general especially through publicising its numerous achievements to the world.[NewsNaira]
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