Thursday, September 18, 2008

BAD JOURNALISM AND THE RETURN TO AUTHORITANISM IN NIGERIA

Nigeria woke up this week to a return to an age old military rule tactic: closure of media house. In this case, the government closed a privately owned broadcasting house. A government supposedly elected by the people for the people. It is hard to defend Nigeria’s comatose profiteers masquerading as journalist in Nigeria. The news item that led to the closure smacks of perfidy and appear to have the hands of the enemies of this regime all over it.

The present state of mainstream media in Nigeria is pathetic to say the least. What stops Channels Television from checking the story out with the regime, given it's well known access to the regime especially when Baba Gana Kingibe was still in government? We know how they lobbed easy question to the president and edited out the president coughing fits to camouflage the health of the president during their interview with the president sometimes ago. An interview arranged at the behest of Kingibe to burnish the image of the president when the going was good.

We are in a journalistic era where facts are considered an inevitable hindrance to preconceived agenda and truth is slaughtered frequently to appease the god or goddess of patronage. But the extreme depravity of Nigeria journalism should never be a license to return to military dictatorship. As long as the present regime surrounds itself with “militricians” in “agbada” we will continue to have problems with our democracy.

My first response when I watch the Channels TV broadcast of a fabricated Yar’adua’s retirement is √©lan. I said to myself, here is a golden attempt by the regime in Abuja to show their democratic credentials by suing the proprietors and journalist of Channel’s Television and thus made Nigerian journalism more accountable.

You can of course imagine my disgust when I woke up the following morning to learn that the Federal Military Government, oops, sorry the democratic Federal Government of Nigeria invaded the premises of Channels television without a search warrant, ransacked the premises, drove out the staff and locked up the station! What manner of democracy is this?

A government desperately searching for legitimacy would have given itself a massive goodwill if it had done the right thing: sue the bastard! Why is legal process so antithetical to the present regime? The answer is simple; their very foundation is grounded in tyranny.

To quote Nigerian Guardian editorial of Thursday, September 18, 2008, “But to revoke the license of a broadcasting station, intimidate the leadership of NAN and incarcerate officials of the two media houses is a sad throw-back to the era of military tyranny, and the authoritarianism of the Obasanjo years.”

In other words, no lesson learnt, nothing has changed. In actual fact if you asked Nigerian if they had received any “dividends of democracy” from the Yar’Adua regime. Their first retort is Yar’adua who? The president imposed on Nigerian by Obasanjo is hardly known outside the PDP “chop make I chop” circles. A president that has spent more time in hospital bed than the actual act of governance cannot be expected to deliver “dividends of democracy to anyone.

I am one of the few that are willing to give Yar’adua’s a chance, and he may yet surprise us, but my hope gradually turns forlorn everyday when I watch the macabre dance going on in Abuja. Hirelings and sycophants are in control of our government. The so called elected leaders have abdicated governance to their “godfathers.” We are “toast!”

We have a lame duck vice president, who hardly performed any duty when the president is away on his numerous hospital beds. We have larger than life Secretary to the Federal government who was recently ousted for plotting to overthrow the regime he sworn to serve. We have a political party, whose interest lies in protecting the interest of its rich members to the exclusion of the masses of Nigeria. How can we make progress in these circumstances? I would not be surprised if the president and the vice president did not know about the closure of Channels Television Station until the news broke out this week. Of course, what do you expect when you make a retired military general with little or no democratic credentials your national security adviser!

Nigerians are very religious, they pray for their president everyday. I think they need to start praying for their country democracy rather than the health of their president. The longevity of this democracy is hanging on a balance. We have a full blown war going on in the Niger Delta. Our stock exchange took a hit and doesn’t appear to have enough life left in it. The fight against corruption is now a footnote rather than a headline. Corruption is pervasive, whilst government is in abeyance. It is as if governance in Nigeria is on an extended vacation. The problem is the officials appear to have bought a one way ticket to vacation, hence return trip is not promised. In their absence, no one is in control. God help Nigeria.

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