In the last six parts of this article, we discussed the role of the media and moved on to the sources of Press Freedom. Today’s edition, being the final installment, we conclude it with an analysis of the Character of the Nigerian Media and rightly end with Conclusion and Recommendations.
Character of the Nigerian Media
During the first Republic in Nigeria, between 1960 and 1966, there were ten newspapers. Daily Times (Lagos), West African Pilot (Lagos), Nigeria Citizen (Kaduna), The Outlook (Enugu), The Eastern Guardian (Port-Harcourt), Sketch (Ibadan), The Tribune (Ibadan), The Express (Lagos), Morning Post (Lagos), The Spokesman (Onisha) and the Observer (Benin). There were also the weeklies like the Drum, the spear and the spectator, all published in Lagos. The Federal Government (then in Lagos), and each of the regional Governments (in Benin, Enugu, Ibadan and Kaduna) had radio and television stations.
Of the print media, Daily Times, The West African Pilot, Eastern Guardian, The Spokesman and Tribune were privately owned. Nigerian Citizen, The Outlook, The Sketch, The Daily Express, Morning Post and the Observer were Government owned newspapers. Apart from the Daily Times, the owners of the other privately owned newspapers were deeply involved in partisan politics. Most of these partisan newspapers owners used their media houses to get to Government House, and upon getting there, they usurped other media houses belonging to government for their own personal aggrandisement.
Also, the most successful politicians belonged to the major ethnic groups in the country-Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. The Nigerian regional leaders, during this time, used all the electronic and print media organs within reach, to fan embers of ethnicity and personal political aspirations. The posture of both the government and private media, demonstrated that the interest of the major ethnic group was synonymous with the interest of the region. What this development resulted into, was that, the minor ethnic groups which constitute the plural society, because they neither owned or had access to media organs, had no voice and opportunity for self-expression.
The media, during the democratic experiment of the Second Republic in Nigeria, 1979 to 1983, was made up of electronic medium, which within this period, was either State or Federal owned. However, this situation has since altered, with the emergence of Raymond Dokpesi’s Daar Communication PLC, (the first Nigerian private broadcast group that operates AIT and Ray Power FM); John Momoh’s Channels TV; Nduka Obaigbena’s Thisday and Arise TV; Sam Amuka Pemu’s Vanguard; Ibru’s Guardian; Aboderin’s Punch; Asiwaju’s TVC and Nation; Sam Ndah Isaiah’s Leadership; Eric Osagie’s ThisNigeria; Kabiru Yusuf’s Trust; Ben Bruce’s Silverbird TV; Orji Uzor Kalu’s Sun and Telegraph; etc. Indeed, a new generation of online publications have since emerged to challenge the orthodox print and electronic media. Such are Sahara Reporters, Premium Times, Gazette, Blue Print, News-on-the-Go of Ise-Oluwa Ige; Dele Momah’s Boss, etc.
Conclusion and Recommendations
To conclude, Civil Society is simultaneously a goal to aim for, a means to achieve it, and a framework for engaging with each other about ends and means. When these three faces turn towards each other and integrate their different perspectives into a mutually supportive framework, the idea of civil society can explain a great deal about the course of politics and social change, and serve as a practical framework for organising both resistance and alternative to social, economic and political problems.
Many of the difficulties of the Civil Society debate disappear, when we lower our expectations of what each school of thought has to offer in isolation from the others, and abandon all attempts to enforce a single model, consensus or explanation. This may not defer the ideologies from using Civil Society as a cover for their own agendas, but it should make it easier to expose their claims and challenge the assumptions they often make.
1. Increase support to the great Civil Society Federations made up of trade unions, under the aegis of the NLC, TUC, and other longstanding associations that have significant influence on critical sectors of the society and economy.
2. Identify and support activities in the area of advocacy, that are issue-driven and limited to one or two goals only.
3. Work with national level cross-sector fora that already exist, and are not donor-driven. Some formal civil society fora already exist, to facilitate coordination and cooperation across different sectors of the Civil Society. The NLC has a Civil Society Forum, designed to coordinate labour activities with other non-labour organisations. In addition, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria has started a Civil Society Forum that includes many human rights and other pro-democracy groups. More recently, a business association, the Convention on Business Integrity, has commenced an innovative “Civil Society Club” as a vehicle for linking businesses and CSOs in coalitions, to fight government corruption.
4. Provide capacity-building to CSOs with substantial experience in the areas of civic awareness and advocacy, and to those that have internal democratic practices; and where appropriate, encourage Civil Society groups to democratise their own decision-making processes, and provide greater transparency and accountability to their communities. How?
5. Explore the possibility of continuing support to media activities, that promote civic awareness for transparency and accountability and advocacy. This will have the effect of insulating media practitioners from the strangulating control and grip of their media organisations.
6. Provide advocacy skills to the CSOs support under the HIV/AIDS initiative. This might be done as a buy-in to the DG Civil Society portfolio, to access this assistance. (The End).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Society cannot exist without law. Law is the bond of society: that which makes it, that which preserves it and keeps it together. It is, in fact, the essence of civil society. (Joseph P. Bradley)