By Shola Oyeyipo and Funmi Ogundare
Media practitioners in Nigeria have been urged to rise above the corrupt polity and demonstrate that they are capable of taking the values they canvass seriously rather than merely reflecting society.
The position was canvassed on Wednesday by a Professor of Political Communication, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Ayo Olutokun, during an inaugural lecture for Oba Sikiru Adetona’s Professorial Chair in Governance in the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University titled: ‘Governance and the Media in an Emergent Democracy: A Study of the Role, Record and Changing Profile of the Nigerian Media 1999-2017.’
Olutokun said the media must expand the crusade and reform the outlook in which they have been historically associated, adding that: “The media will be stronger still and become better instrument of national integration if the organisations that cater to a national audience make conscious effort to carry along perspectives that are based in regions other than the ones in which they are located.”
He took a swipe at some of the prevalent corruption in the system, saying that the media sometimes air questionable transactions, which continue to thrive in spite of criticisms of the practice.
“In 2012, the National Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) name Chevron Nigeria Limited as the best Community Development Company of the year. Same year, League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) conferred an award of excellence on then Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah (later sacked from the cabinet over allegations of irregular purchase of bullet proof cars) and decorated Dana Air, which later got involved in a crash killing scores of people,” he said.
The don however commended and listed some instances where journalists refused to take bribes offered them to stop some investigations they were working on, saying: “One example is that of award winning journalist and enterprise editor of the defunct NEXT Newspaper, who has now moved on to be the Managing Editor of Premium Times, Musikilu Mojeed, who broke several investigative stories of monumental corruption in the oil sector under former President Goodluck Jonathan administration”, adding that: “To be noted among the hopeful tendencies also is the in-house cleaning by some other media houses.”
In spite of sanitising measures, Olukotun bemoaned that media corruption remains an extant problem and moral blur.
He highlighted some of the critical consequences of unreliable media to include increasing poverty and pauperisation of the Nigerian social formation, mass unemployment even among graduates and its associated vices.
“It is not that our media do not sometimes raise these issues; it is simply that they do not make them their foci. Related to this lacuna is the urban centredness of the media and the failure to incorporate the majority of the populace who live in the rural areas.
Overwhelmingly, we encounter the media; newspapers, television stations, blogs as urban phenomenon, considering that most of them do not have reporters in the rural areas. One looks forward to the day when community newspapers, rural radios and blogs operating from the hinterland will widen the discursive umbrella beyond its currently narrow celebration of eminent persons, rich people and powerful people, all of whom are located in our cities,” he noted.