CORRUPTION: THE CRITICAL ROLE OF THE MEDIA

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It was Thomas Jefferson, a former President of the United States of America, who said: “If I were to choose between a government without newspapers and a newspaper without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.” According to a World Bank abstract on the media’s role in curbing corruption, “the role of media is critical in promoting good governance and controlling corruption. It not only raises public awareness about corruption, its causes and possible remedies, but also investigates and reports incidences of corruption.” The role of media in any society cannot be overemphasized. Since the media can perform the responsibility of promoting good governance and controlling corruption, it can also identify those involved in corruption and corrupt practices.

Corruption is a menace everywhere in the world. In Nigeria for instance, the devastating effect of corruption on the Nigerian economy is seen in virtually everywhere. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the society to the extent that the ordinary citizen lacks the basic necessity of life: from health to education, from security to economy, from agriculture to the transportation of the farm produce into markets for sale.

To safeguard this country from the fangs of corruption, there is a need to collaborate with anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Since it is one of the agencies in the country saddled with the responsibilities of fighting corruption, the EFCC cannot singlehandedly fight this heinous crime. And that is not to say it does not have the capacity or ability, but because the fight is not for EFCC alone. The fight against corruption is for all of us, both the anti-corruption agencies, media, and the society at large.

Sometimes ago, I read on the dailies that the EFCC “has decried low level of public awareness on the negative effects of corruption among Nigerians, saying this may be the reason the commission’s effort seem not to be well appreciated by members of the public.” This observation was made on July 22, 2019 through the South-East zonal head of the commission, Usman Imam when he paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Television Authority, Enugu Network Centre. According to Imam who spoke on behalf of the Acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, “the media serves as a conveyor belt of our activities, because if we are working and information is not being taken to the right places, people would hardly know what we are doing and this affects how corruption war is being perceived.”

There is need for the media to perform its primary role of informing, educating, and enlightening the Nigerian people on the dangers of corruption, just as it does in the areas of security, education, health. Sensitization and information sharing about corruption and what it entails is another key role the media should play in the fight against corruption. According to Imam, “Knowing that if corruption which has been the bane of the nation’s progress is sorted out, more than half of her problems would have been taken care of.”

There is the need to expose those involved in corruption and corrupt practices. This will help the Nigerian populace to be informed and have a better understanding of the effects it has on their lives. Some ordinary citizens got themselves involved in corruption and corrupt practices without even knowing that they are culpable.

The charge by Imam to the media is therefore apt: “We want people not just to be informed but understand the effects of corruption and the effects it has on their lives because, if people who are elites are finding it difficult to understand us, then we are in trouble already at the grassroots where there is a major gap in information dissemination.”

Abbas Abubakar, Jabi, Abuja