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How the media is critical in shaping society, by Kukah


Mathew Hassan Kukah

• Warns against outsourcing responsibility to God, others
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Matthew Kukah has charged journalists to examine their role as the watchdog of society, stating that the profession has become sophisticated and must respond to the dynamics of the society.

Kukah made the charge while delivering a keynote address at the launch of New Narrative newspaper in Lagos over the weekend. He said the great men who shaped the future of Nigeria were journalists, adding, “The question for journalists should be, why are we writing? This is because journalism has become very sophisticated and journalists have to decide when, what and how to report. The result is that certain people are being paid good money so that certain names don’t appear in the newspapers.”

The bishop said there was need to address the old narratives before starting a new narrative. He condemned the views expressed by a section of the public that ethnicity is destroying the country, noting that diversity is an asset. He stated that the critical question should be how to manage the diversity to promote societal good.

According to him, “Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo and others had a clear idea what type of society the country needed. We have become hostages to our environment; we are refusing to deal with the difficult questions of how countries formed and developed.”He pointed out that Nigerians’ major challenge was outsourcing responsibility, saying, “We should be ashamed of ourselves that we are waiting on President Muhammadu Buhari to change the fortunes of the country. The question is, how does Buhari change the country? This tendency of outsourcing our responsibility to God or external agents makes it possible for us to think about contentedness. We should not be looking up to politicians for change.”

The bishop, who is also a renowned public intellectual, spoke briefly about June 12 and said matters regarding the annulled election of 1993 were yet to be resolved, saying, “The deeper issues of June 12 have remained unresolved, and they concern the content and the structure of the system we are running as a country.”

Prof. Pat Utomi, who was represented by Senior Vice President, Strategy and Development, Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), Mr. Rasheed Adegbenro, urged publishers to be mindful of the information published in order to survive, saying, “Set out to educate people and build trust.”

Utomi drew attention to the latest Edelman trust survey launched a few weeks ago, which placed the media above government, business and non-governmental organisations in terms of trust.

“The integrity of your media source is very critical if you want to run a sustainable business,” he said. “It has been predicted that in the next 50 years, Nigeria would have a drastic fall in per capita income and this means that the future generation would face more hardship, hence the media has the critical role of shaping and addressing the affairs of the country to ensure that this prediction does not come to pass.”

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Matthew Kukah
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