The press and national development
Sir: I am not suggesting that nobody has the right to disagree with anybody. Without disagreement, life itself will be a monumental bore. But no sane person should carry disagreement to an extent where it is ever difficult to reconcile.” Yakubu Mohammed- National Concord, Monday, April 25, 1983.
Never underestimate the power of the press. So powerful that it can make you a hero and the next minute a villain.
President Richard Nixon, underestimated the press to his peril and the press never forgave him. The press made sure Watergate became Nixon’s Achilles’ heel; in spite of his abrasive manoeuvre. The role of the press in national development cannot be questioned. But I often wonder how effective, the press is, in this dispensation unlike in the era gone-by when the press joined hands to force the military out of power and ensured that the military was sent to the kitchen-midden of history, politically. Save for its constitutional role of defending the integrity of state,
I picked up a famous newspaper published and circulated majorly in the North and read the works of writers who were largely pro-north and anti-south.
Of course, there are papers in the West that enjoy pro-western pieces and anti-northern news and pieces. If you want to read irredentists stories, all you need do is buy a particular paper widely circulated in the East. You can’t miss it.
I go through the works of some writers elsewhere and see same slant, they are always against a particular region and people. Today I can preempt the works of some writers by staring at their names before venturing to read their work. The old brigades are never guilty of this but the new. We are gradually turning out ethnic jingoist everywhere in the name of journalism.
Unlike the BBC, which is funded by the British government but run independently and professionally, the state media houses in Nigeria it would appear were established to carol and sing-swan songs of whichever government is in power. And members of the opposition wouldn’t dare go there to submit a paid announcement against the government in power for fear of being sent away with fleas in their ears. Their contents are one hundred propaganda works of government. We need not even dwell on state-based privately-owned newspapers. Those are full of hoary jokes, which they embellish as journalism.
Privately-owned radio stations should fill the gap, but practitioners hide under the radar to editorialize for their principals in government houses or allow unrestricted call-ins that are antithetical to growth.
Has Nigeria moved out of the fragile state index since 2014? Why isn’t the press contributing to making sure we do? This is not a holistic accusation. I know, that some press houses tower above others.
The press seems to enjoy sensationalism a lot in Nigeria. And sensationalism isn’t what journalism should be. After all, as a people we aspire to greatness and need revolutions of culture, brotherhood, science and technology, attitudes, questions and answers and of the mind to achieve this. Looking back today, the press is not what it used to be in the 1990s. We have too many criticisms in the polity against people and region than praises. Most often, governmental policies are viewed by journalist through ethnic lenses. They cavil without demanding for better governance. Most times, facts, reality and history are missing as they fight on the way to the temple.
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