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Every bad leader should have sleepless nights – Lessons from the Belarusian Journalist

By Esosa Osa

Who is a hero? A hero is someone who possesses great courage and carries out exceptional acts, and those exceptional acts make the person a role model.

In the fictional world, we are given unrealistic presentations of heroes as those who possess some sort of mysterious ability popularly called superpowers in order to save lives.

In the real world, however, we must perform extraordinary acts with the use of a universal tool ─the human body. We must use our intellect, limbs, sensory organs, and all that our bodies have impact the world positively before one can be classified as a her sort of.

For media practitioners, they must use the different media tools, such as radio, television, newspapers, and others to immensely impact the society positively.

In Nigeria, journalists such as Nosa Igiebor, Kunle Ajibade, Richard Akinnola, Dele Momodu, Bayo Onanuga, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Sunday Dare, Chris Anyanwu, Osa Director, and many others, even after being harmed or threatened yet stood against the oppressive military dictatorship in order to enthrone the “democracy” we have today.

Most recently, Roman Protasevich, a journalist from Belarus is doing a similar thing. For those who do not know Mr. Protasevich, he is a young journalist who has been fighting against the brutal government of Alexander Lukashenko, the Belorussian leader with brutal dictatorial propensity

Due to this, he and his girlfriend were recently detained when their flight from Greece enroute to Lithuania was “hijacked” by the Belarusian Government. Observers have described the act as “terrorism” and absolutely disgraceful.
Mr. Protasevich’s fight against the Belarus leader, who has been frequently accused of corruption and numerous unlawful arrests did not start today.

It started when 16-year-old Protasevich was detained for simply watching a video of a peaceful protest against the government.

That singular act kick-started a lifetime mission of Mr. Protasevich to end the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko, who took over power in 1994.

After his release, no high school was interested in accepting him. It was until his mother who worked as a teacher for the Army academy made an agreement with the ministry of education to lose her job that he was allowed to return to school after six months of home schooling.

Roman Protasevich, a gifted Science student in high school decided to study Journalism in Belarusian State University. But due to his continued criticism of the government during his University days, he ran into trouble with the government, and was unable to complete his Degree programme.

This did not stop him as he continued to oppose the government. In 2019, he joined a telegram group called NEXTA, meaning “someone” in Belarusian language. The channel has always been publishing investigations about the corrupt activities of the Belarusian Government.

Before Mr. Protasevich joined NEXTA, they became more popular after publishing an award-winning documentary about Lukashenko, titled: “Lukasheka: Criminal Materials”.

After Protasevich joined the channel as the Editor-in-Chief, they continued to oppose, expose and criticise the government.

They even described Lukasheko’s victory in the 2020 elections as “rigged”. The channel mobilised many Belarusian citizens to protest against the government for stealing the mandate of the people.

The 26-year-old Protasevich was determined to make the tyrant in Belarus experience the popular mantra held by media practitioners, which states that “every bad leader should have sleepless nights.”

This simply means that every bad leader should spend their entire night thinking about what the media will publish about them. It is obeying this mantra that has led Mr. Protasevich to be detained in the most disgraceful way possible. Let’s just say Lukashenko’s sleepless night turned into unrelenting migraine.

The world leaders should continue to ensure the safety and non-violation of the human rights of Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, and the dignity of their persons.

Such will help to preserve the virtues of freedom of the press, freedom of association and free speech.
For us in Nigeria, the lesson of Mr. Protasevich emphasises the universal brotherhood of the human race.
Roman Protasevich is most especially is league with the Nigerian journalists who fought the military for the enthronement of democracy between 1993 and 1999.

Therefore, Protasevich is a hero to the younger generation of Nigerian media practitioners and students who have never experienced guerilla journalism and military dictatorship.

Indeed, he is an inspiration to the members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm globally who desire to use the profession as a tool for social engineering and reconstruction in the society.

Esosa is a student of mass communication at Covenant University, Ota,Nigeria

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