Doyin Mahmoud: Memories of significant life as a journalist remain evergreen
It was another moment of fond memories of the late pioneer Head of Department of Mass Communication of University of Ilorin, Mr Adedoyin Nureni Mahmoud when on Monday, August 14, 2023, lecturers, students, guest speakers and well wishers converged on the basement of the main auditorium of the citadel of learning to remember his ingenuity and iconic contributions to Journalism practice in Nigeria.
The yearly event lived up to its billings as it brought to the fore the assemblage of creme de la creme in the field of journalism in Nigeria. It was also a veritable moment for the conferment of awards by the organisers on some Nigerian media icons. The editor of the weekend’s titles of The Guardian, Kabir Alabi Garba, Ph.D. was a key figure at the event.
The awardees were: Alhaji Saadudeen Salahudeen former Senior Special Adviser on Strategy, to Kwara state Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Alhaji SaadudeenSalahudeen; the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye; the Chief Executive Officer of Cable News, Simon Kolawole; and a veteran journalist and philanthropist, Alhaji Najim Jimoh.
Other notable personalities that graced the event included Dr. Bashir Ibrahim, Dr. Ghali Alaaya, both of the University of Ilorin. Senator Umar Sadiq, representing Kwara North in the National Assembly and a seasoned journalist, Raheem Adedoyin, who is also a member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI). Mahmoud, a former Senior journalist at Daily Times, former Chief Sub-editor and Training Editor of The Guardian Newspaper, Editor of the Herald Newspapers, and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Independent, remained great in death among the lecturers and students at the yearly lecture.
Speakers at the epoch making event churned out incisive submissions comments that served as repertoire of knowledge and gamut of innovations to the capacity filled audience.
Dr Garba, Salahudeen, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), and Kolawole, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Cable Newspaper, took their turn, to have a media retrospection of the past, examine the relevance of the youths in the present day practice of journalism and proffer solutions to some of the burning issues relating to media industry locally and internationally.
Besides, they paid glowing tributes to the late media guru especially his dedication to duties, his ethical prowess and his midas torch to academic growth in the nation’s media sphere.
In his paper entitled; ‘Cultivating The Next Generation of Engaged Citizenry: The Media’s Role in Empowering Young People’, Dr Garba who is also the Vice President (West), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) examined among others, the transition between the traditional and the emerging social media landscape.
Besides, he highlighted the various roles of the mass media to the society especially in the area of serving a meeting point between the government and the governed, helping the latter in the area of formulation and implementation of policies.
The guest speaker who was represented at the event by the Kwara state correspondent of the paper, Abiodun Fagbemi Esq. traced the history of the invention of printing press by the German Johnes Gutenberg to the year 1455 making newspaper the oldest form of mass communication channel known to humanity.
He added that evolutionary development, especially in the area of technology emerged from that invention six centuries ago and birthed what is today described as the eight traditional industries comprising newspapers, books, magazines, recordings, radio, movies, television, and the Internet.
For the editor, “the role of the mass media in the society cannot be over emphasised. Through the mass media, people are able to share meanings using symbols, gather and gain information, form and maintain relationship as well as manage and coordinate task.
“Without the mass media, it becomes increasingly difficult to resolve conflicts and tackle the myriads of socio-political, economic and cultural problems that plague the society on a daily basis.
“Indeed, there are numerous functions that the media perform in the society. These include information, education, motivation, cultural promotion and entertainment. Media institution, through the practice of journalism, informs and educates the public, among other functions of socialisation, mobilisation, surveillance and cultural promotion.
“It serves a societal interest in transparency. The media professionals, especially journalists, act frequently as watchdogs, scrutinising and interrogating the formulation of public policy and highlighting blocks to development such as corruption, human rights abuses or inefficient governance.
“The relevance of the media in any polity is generally drawn from the fact that information generation and circulation is necessary for effective governance and societal administration (Akinfeleye, 2003).
“Lack of information or misuse of information or hoarding of information is seen to be counter productive in governance and/or administration. The trending conversation around fuel subsidy removal succinctly illustrates how the media can mobilise and keep Citizenry engaged on national issues.
“In summary, discussion about the media and society is focused on the role of the media in social, cultural, political and economic life with emphasis on the increasing entanglement of digital media technology with people’s lives.”
On the concept of digital transition: between citizenship and netizenship, Garba underlined the impact of digital disruption dictated by the advancement in technology (the latest being Artificial intelligence) that the media have brought upon the society is the transition of the concept of citizenship to netizenship.
He noted, “citizen engagement is described as an interactive two-way process that encourages participation, exchange of ideas and flow of conversation between the citizens and the government.
“Basically, active citizenship or engaged citizenship refers to active participation of a citizen under the law of a nation discussing and educating themselves in politics and society as well as a philosophy espoused by organizations and educational institutions which advocates that individuals, charitable organizations, and companies have certain roles and responsibilities to society and the environment.
“Active citizens may be involved in public advocacy and protest, working to effect change in their communities. In most cases, the media always provide the platform to foster such active participation.
“But with the preponderant use of communication technologies and social media networks such as Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram etc, active citizenship has transited to digital space and known as netizenship. Nonetheless, active citizenship or netizenship is vital for the proper functioning of human society.
“Too often, citizen engagement is seen with suspicion, skepticism or fear by policymakers. Yet, there are compelling reasons it is necessary, feasible and useful for growth and development of society.”
Quoting copiously the Chilean economist and the Governor of the Central Bank of Chile, Mario Marcel (of Governance Global Practice) and what he offered as insights via media engagement of citizens in government policies processing, the guest speaker said, the development could save the government from socio political and economic waste.
He added, “citizen engagement pays off by building trust in institutions. Citizens’ trust in institutions is a huge asset for countries, as this trust enables smooth implementation of public policies and service delivery. When this trust is missing, governments face higher costs and complications as informality becomes generalized and citizens seek services outside of formal public systems.
“Citizen engagement complements, not substitutes representative democracy. The interaction between citizens and public institutions happen at different levels and in different capacities. Strategic priorities are and should continue being set by the political process. Citizen engagement, in turn, is fundamental to translate such priorities into concrete actions and delivery. Citizen engagement is happening now and everywhere. In countries all over the world, citizen engagement is taking hold as a critical part of participatory policy-making.”
Despite the emergence of the social media in the landscape of information dissemination, Garba said that the traditional media still stand as the thrust of dishing out information and a veritable tool even for the use of the social media.
According to him, “although social networking has been such a revolutionary invention for the society, and many researchers have turned towards social media to explore trending topics, traditional media still remains as the origin of the majority of the news discussed in social networking sites.”
The guest speaker examined the impact of the millennial and media engagement in Africa with its phenomenal rise but sharply criticised its seeming negative results, spreading fake news in some cases among the populace.
He said, “information disorder is a terminology used to describe the menace of fake news and all its variants in the society. The consensus among media scholars is that the preponderance of fake news has a direct link to the pervasiveness of social media and digital technology.
“The construction of information disorder as that which “embodies all the various ways by which the integrity of published materials is compromised” lends credence to the submission that social media have become veritable channels for the spread of disinformation.”
Profering solutions he noted, “emphasis is laid on the need for the content creator to ensure the truthfulness of editorial materials meant for public consumption. The argument is that what being digital brought to the table of disinformation practices is volume and velocity but what it failed to present at that same table is veracity. It is simple logic therefore that if you want to resolve the enigma of information disorder at a structural level, you need to find a way to inject the imperative of veracity to the messaging mechanism.”
He canvassed active participation of the youth in community activism and advocacy, noting that vibrant media system is desirable to harness and nurture these virtues and skills for community development.
Incidentally for Garba, the life and times of Mr. Mahmoud (January 1, 1950 – September 20,2009) encapsulated the theme of the lecture adding “may his soul continue to rest in peace.”
Extolling the virtues of the late Mahmoud at the event, a veteran journalist, who is also a member of the executive board of the International Press Institute (IPI), Raheem Adedoyin, described the late journalist, as a passionate professional, a great academic, and a mentor who dedicated the larger part of his lifetime grooming younger and budding talents in the field of journalism.
Besides, Adedoyin, a former commissioner for Information in Kwara state and a lecturer in the department of Mass Communication of the University charged the students to imbibe the virtues of excellent learning, astute discipline, and uprightness, the attributes he noted have made the late Mahmoud immortalised in the department.
Lending his voice to the emergence of the social media and its impact on effective and professional dissemination of information to the public, the media guru urged the practitioners of the traditional media to be more vigilant and conscious of professionalism “in the midst of an unprofessional social media revolution.”
Kolawole, the publisher of The Cable Newspaper said although he did not work with the late Mahmoud, he nevertheless read many comments on the invaluable contributions of the erudite journalist to the field of journalism not only in Nigeria but in Africa and beyond.
In his remarks, Salahudeen characterized the late Mahmoud as a journalism icon “who made his footprints in the sand of times, leading in the battlefield by his pen to get Nigeria returned to democratic government and freer society which many contemporary younger Nigerians take for granted.”
The event also witnessed the launch of the department’s Magazine ‘The Lens’ by the Senator representing Kwara North senatorial district, Senator Sadiq Sulyman Umar. The lawmaker described Mahmoud as “a Colossus whose prowess of mentoring is evident today in journalism practice.”
The Senator therefore advised the students to emulate the late journalist in the area of mentoring, adding, “mentorship is very important in shaping and determining your future, you must be circumspect in picking who you want to take as a role model because it has to be someone that would inspire you to be a value-added member of the society by being an exemplary person in your chosen career.”
Umar identified the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as his mentor describing him as “a silent achiever with uncommon qualities.” Drs Saudat Salah Abdulbaqi, Chairman, Kwara chapter of the NIPR; Kehinde Khadijat Kadiri, Head of the Department of Mass Communication of the University and Fatimah Abubakre, a lecturer at the department, all justified the hosting of the annual event and extolled the viable foundation the late Mahmoud laid for the department.
Five distinguished personalities were conferred with various awards citing their outstanding contribution to the development of the Mass communication department of the University.
The awardees are; Garba, Salahudeen, the Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara state Governor, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, Kolawole, and a philanthropist, Alhaji Najim Jimoh. Alhaji Jimoh was said to have been the brain behind the finance and production of the Magazine in honour of the late Mahmoud at every annual lecture.
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