Press role in politics and national growth
We know that words cannot move mountains, but they can move the multitude. Words shape thoughts, stir feelings, and beget actions; they kill and revive, and cure. The ‘men of words’ – priests, prophets, intellectuals -have played a more decisive role in history than military leaders, statesmen and businessmen
– Eric Hoffer – The Ordeal of Change (1976).
I AM not inconsiderate to assume that some newspapers editors have got into trouble in the past for seditious writings; aimed not at national building but to weep up destructive tendencies.
In Nigeria, this unpalatable situation arising from thoughtless writings has become history as most editors have now become more careful in their criticisms of the government and significant individuals in order to avoid seditious acts.
During the colonial era, newspaper publishers and their editors were harassed and intimidated while some were even jailed. For example, Peter Enahoro and many other ‘men of the pen-trade’ became popular victims of seditious acts for which they were sent to jail.
Also, we can remember that far away in the civilised world and particularly, in United States of America, Charles Pinckney, during the newspapers convention in Philadelphia on August 20 1787, recommended that “liberty of the press shall be inviolably preserved.”
In the past, there were editorial writings in support or against political candidates that were vying for parliamentary elections.
To avoid seditious writing, such editorials were not signed or appropriately authenticated for publishing. However, no party or group of politicians should find faults with newspapers and their editors when they offered reasonable editorials on key government policies during electioneering campaigns.
Also, there should be no negative sentiments against the press when they subject government policies and economic plans to reasonable review for posterity sake. Newspaper editorials must have the capacity to review government approaches to tackling various budget deficits, public spending reduction, public waste elimination, job creation, supportive health services and restoration to the path of vibrant economy.
Hence, newspaper editorials should be in a position to constantly review national policies, developmental programs while expressing succinct views about social issues and offer reasonable advice to the government on how to achieve developmental agendas.
It is an acceptable fact that the press, as an organisation body, understands the values of moral decency, courtesy, fairness and honesty in gregarious settings. As such, regular communications booming from the press to people are supposed to be credible, captivating, compelling, compulsive, thought-provoking, encouraging and realistic. Thus the press will make a reliable difference in the life of the community and its people.
Newspaper editorials should be maturely written to uphold the only truth and nothing more, and affirmatively bold to remind people that they are supposed to vote for the right candidates, who have their interests majorly at hearts, and have the capacity to restore back to them their past flouring lifestyles.
The understanding that poverty, hunger and diseases as presently experienced, can become a thing of the past, if both leaders and followers are mutually disposed to and committed to making things work.
Therefore, the press must emphasize the truth that Nigerians are presently living with the ‘stone age mentality’ of struggling for ‘mere pots of porridge while giving away their birthrights to political-leaders’ and that better days of resurrected personal and national glories are still attainable.
It is the responsibility of the press to indicate that positive economic growth indexes have become the undoubted key of transforming citizens’ lives to the path of prosperity.
These indexes of growth are tactically manipulated by developed nations (like India, China, etc.), to eliminate prevalent lack, poverty, diseases and ignorance among their citizens.
Also, Nigerian citizens have the opportunity for holistic transformation if politicians (seeking for votes and occupy leadership positions) can absolutely guarantee the wellbeing of Nigerians and national prosperity as their prime concerns.
Nigerian leaders must seriously pursue welfare programs that will care for poor people through wealth creations and promotion of avenues for personal and group growths.
Presently, there is too much widened gap between wealthy and poor Nigerians, as most people have de-flourished unabated into despicable poverty, unmitigated hunger and degradation.
A Nobel prize-winner and Economist, Robert Lucas, once remarked about ‘why some nations experience economic growth and others do not’. He noted that it was “the consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering; once we start to think about anything else”.
The interpretation of “economic growth” by Economists is basically the sustained increase in overall production of goods and services in a nation (the gross domestic product – GDP) or sustained increase in overall output per person -often called the country’s standard of living”.
Economic growth is good for the nation and presently desired by Nigerians to guarantee improvement in the welfare of the poor people. It helps the timely avoidance of “fiscal and debt” crisis in both developed and less developed countries and with the capacity to place a nation firmly on the path of economic stability.
There is a famous saying that “it is pretty hard to be a leader if no one is following. If someone desires to move the mountains, then such a person needs to move the people.”
Most people attempt to motivate others through begging, bribery and frantic effort of personal conviction. When these attempts fail to secure the desired effects, such people become too desperate and switch over to negotiations, manipulations, desperate naggings and deceptions so as to achieve their goals. They believe that “getting other people to the Yes point” is the only ultimate communication that can lead to achievement of their goals.
In reality, this desperate approach is not the best alternative and not good enough. Not only do we want people to agree with our desires but we also want them to follow us through and actually “DO” that which they promised.
This is a major reason for existence of ‘active and professional press’ in a nation. The truth is that professional press is almost always devoid of dubious machinations and ‘bring-him-down syndrome’ against people not in your favor.
Parochial reporting of some newspapers majorly established to serve the selfish interest of some politicians while their editors are ferociously working for their “pay-packets-and-masters.” Such newspaper dared not publish anything against the interests of their sponsoring godfathers.
However, they often machinate lies, write tales of woe and contort falsehoods against other people considered as threats to their godfathers’ overall interests. Such newspapers contribute nothing meaningful to the society except to set it on peripherals of disintegration and act as mouth-pieces of their motivators and allowance providers.
The political philosopher, Hannah Arendt, once observed that truth and politics “are on rather bad terms with each other.” She said further that “power threatened the truth” particularly, “factual truth” became facts and events as invariable outcomes of men living and acting together constitute the very text of political recon.”
Seeking the basic truth, as assumed by professional newspapers and editors, is an inevitable choice for any “newspaper” that is dedicated to achieving reasonable values of a liberal society.” The truth is that most governments do not provide for monitoring criterion to their activities out of utopianism and often disparages dissenting opinions. However, the press act (in accordance with the Nigerian constitution) plays an important role in monitoring the national politics and accompanied socio-economic activities.
The press can influence various tiers of governments on developmental policies and existing socio-political structures without unreasonable legal restraints or sanctions borne out of whims and caprices of dictatorial politicians. It was really gratifying to read a recent editorial of The Guardian (December 1, 2017) with the title: “PDP” and a Constitutional Way Forward.
In my opinion, this editorial is the proper way that a reliable daily newspaper is supposed to publish the plain truth about political happenings in the nation. I hope Nigerians are able to digest the basic truth in all its ramifications and read between the lines. Other operating newspapers must emulate this factual approach while the concerned political party frantically learned its lessons from the write-up.
To be continued tomorrow.
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