The mass media is the most powerful pressure group in every society. It acts as an agent for freedom, social justice and stands as a bulwark against tyranny, dictatorships and other excesses of government.
It has the power to influence and shape the policies of government and can enthrone or dethrone regimes as it has done in many parts of the world. The media ultimately holds the government accountable and represents the conscience of the nation. These ideals and strengths make the media the most formidable socio-political group in every nation.
As Nigeria is being raped and destroyed by unconscionable leaders determined to lay waste to the nation, the local media has abdicated its responsibility to wield its powers and influence in fighting for good governance and social justice and has rather become an accomplice in the ongoing despoliation of the nation. The Nigerian media was not always like this, it has a proud history of seasoned and highly professional journalists who took on erstwhile regimes including brutal military dictators with a rare determination and courage. However, after decades of relentless opposition to successive military junta’s in partnership with other pro-democracy groups, the military lost the battle, licked its wounds and retreated, ushering in a new era of civil rule. Curiously, after having won the battle for democracy, the media became “born again” and reclined into ethnic conclaves and partnership with the civilian “lootocrats” whose insensitivity, corruption and other excesses have proven to be even worse than the erstwhile military despots.
The Nigerian media is today a shadow of itself, shackled and crippled by mediocrity, corruption and tribalism. Instead of fighting for good governance and social justice, the media has increasingly become an avenue for hate mongering and bigotry. While the nation burns from monumental looting and a deliberate denial of the most basic infrastructure, mainstream journalists now dedicate most of their time to engaging in antagonistic ethno-religious mudslinging and stereotypes. The Reuben Abati’s, Ibrahim Shema’s, Sam Omatseye’s, Mohammed Haruna’s, Garba Deen Mohammed’s amongst others are highly implicated in this mediocre genre of “ethnic cold war” journalism. In a nation that is in dire need of nation building, the Nigerian media has in no small measure helped in un-building the nation
Massive corruption in the media is an open secret. Not only is most of the print and electronic media now owned by the “lootocrat” politicians and their wide net of enablers, journalists routinely get land-gifts from Aso rock in choice locations in Abuja, just as they also collect brown envelopes stuffed with wads of cash and very often get appointed to government as chief press secretaries, personal assistants, commissioners, ministers and other “egunje” outlets from where they can line their pockets with filthy lucre (blood money).
Having been so compromised, the Nigerian media is not surprisingly dead. Thus while the unpatriotic and vastly corrupt self serving legislators and senators continue to audaciously assault the citizenry by allocating more salary to themselves than president Barack Obama in a nation with more than 70% living in abject poverty, the Nigerian media is in a state of anomie. While more than 70% of Nigeria’s budget is dedicated to recurrent expenditure (chop-chop) with only a meagre 25% dedicated to capital expenditure in a nation in a state of emergency with lack of roads, electricity, pipe borne water, functional hospitals, functional schools and other basic infrastructure the media is silent. While government officials are busy looting billions on a daily basis the media is in a hangover. While the farcical so called democratic process lacks an organized constructive opposition to the ruling party at all levels and while the political parties parade themselves without an ideology and manifesto the media is in deep slumber. While lootocrat politicians engage in the ludicrous rigmarole of jumping from one party to the other and while the nation remains stuck in unprecedented insecurity the media is deaf, dumb and dead.
This is the extent to which the once proud, robust and courageous media has declined. Under normal circumstances, the media should be in the trench, waging a vicious war against the lootocrat politicians who have made Nigeria a failed state with screaming headlines that daily expose and challenge the mindless vandalization of the nation. This is what obtains in any nation with a mass media worth its salt, but not in Nigeria because the local Nigerian media is as dead as dodo!
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu