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2023 AND THE MEDIA

By Dul Johnson

 

The time-honoured saying that the pen is mightier than the sword remains a fact. The media is a powerful group in the 2023 project. The media moulds and controls opinions. The media has the power to positively or negatively influence or mould opinions. You have the power to scatter the country or even set it ablaze. But you also have the power to speak peace, unity and progress. You have power that is almost equal to that of the three arms of government; the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. That is why you are called the fourth estate of the realm. You are like the fourth arm of government in every society. You should be able to use this immense power for the benefit of the society. You are also called the watchdog of the society and you know what that means. You protect the home from all intruders and trouble makers that venture into your domain.

 

The media in Nigeria has done very well in playing their role as watchdogs and many have paid dearly for it. Examples abound of those who have suffered in the course of defending our rights and our democracy. Many have suffered molestation, incarceration, denial of opportunities, injuries, and even the supreme price of losing their lives. The likes of Kunle Ajibade, Nduka Iraboh and many others suffered long periods of incarceration while Dele Giwa and many others had to pay the supreme price. Should these sacrifices count for nothing? Can the media afford to go to sleep while our house is on fire? This is the moment for the media to come to heed the call for true journalism and come to our rescue. True journalism means standing on the side of truth; being objective, being alert to all the happenings within the polity and commenting appropriately in order to bring awareness to the people. In a situation where everything seems to be going wrong, with the ship of state drifting ever so perilously, we need you to speak reason and caution to the people.

 

There have been examples in the past, such as the ones mentioned above. There are many others doing so now. Kadaria Ahmed, for example. Gentlemen of the press, 2023 is crucial and critical. Bury your differences and personal interests and join forces with all progressive Nigerians working to rescue our nation, to bring about a true change. There is a new wind blowing in the country, a wind that does not think tribe nor religion, does not think North, East, West or South, that thinks Nigeria. You are aware, Gentlemen of the press, that there are negative forces from every corner of the country that are preaching religion and tribalism. As members of the fourth estate of the realm, you should be on oath to be truthful, objective and nationalistic. If, for any personal reason you cannot join the forward looking and forward moving ”New Generation” Nigeria, then stay aloof and do not sow any seed of discord. I note with joy a number of media outfits that are doing positive work towards the new beginning in 2023. Let the piper who is demanded to do the wrong thing seal his pipe rather than play a tune of division and destruction. After all, he who pays the piper needs the nation’s crowd to listen to the tune.

 

Our request of you is a simple one: use your power and all the resources available to you to wake Nigerians up from their slumber and lethargy. There are many who are discouraged, especially with the results of the primaries, and who are threatening not to vote. They need to be constantly reminded that abstention is not the way to go. No angels would come from outer space to contest elections in Nigeria. It is better to vote and create a burden of conscience to whoever will temper with your votes than to abstain and give an automatic discounting of your votes.  We must therefore choose the lesser of the evils and then stand our grounds to ensure that they do what we have elected them to do. Help us educate Nigerians on their civic responsibilities. Make them know that it is their fault that they elect people who would go to the chambers of the National Assembly only to sleep; that they do this either by refusing to vote or by voting out of sentiments. Drum it into their ears that democracy is not built or achieved in one day, that it is a long and tedious process of creating awareness in the people right from the grassroots level. Creating such awareness is not a one day thing either; it needs to be a sustained effort.

 

Your task, gentlemen of the press and members of the fourth estate of the realm, is no sinecure. It demands total commitment to the national cause. It demands objectivity and integrity. There is the belief amongst the populace that the brown envelope syndrome is still very much with you. It may not be a bad thing to accept an appreciation gesture, but when such a gesture has strings attached to it, the name and meaning are no longer the same. With a full return to democracy you will enjoy your work and the remuneration, and will have no need for any envelope. You have guilds, unions and associations. Use them to network and build consensus to support the process of electing a team that has promise, a team whose leader subscribes to an egalitarian ideology, and a grasp of our current problems. You have the pen and the ink, and you have the channels or outlets at your disposal. Take the lead in this worthy cause, and you would be writing your names in the book of Nigeria’s heroes of change.

 

You have an enemy in the social media, a very strong one. We have many self-made journalists issuing hate speeches and preaching religious and ethnic division using audio and video clips. All of these call for counter views by you who have the training to do so. You will not be doing too much for Nigeria if most of what you publish or produce are about peaceful coexistence, and the need for the right kind of person to be voted for rather than preaching religion and ethnicity. There are those who are doing great work via the same medium, posting positive and uniting clips such as the Kadaria video mentioned earlier. These ought to be replicated on a daily basis. It is time for you to come together, to hold conferences and tell yourselves that it is time you joined forces with the masses of this country to take our destiny in our hands. You are the ones with the megaphones. Please blow them loud and daily in the service of your fatherland so that come 2023, you will have a country in which you can practice your profession freely and happily.

 

  • Johnson is a Professor in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Bingham University, Karu

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