Governor of Enugu State,
pleases the State to say it is half-full,
why would it displease the same State
that the Press says it is half empty?
Mokwugo Okoye …in Storms On The Niger
A public lecture of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN)
Diamond Hall, Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos,
Thursday, 23rd October, 2003
MCK Ajuluchukwu …
he fought like a man
and now his no more.
Could it ever be a completely easy task to stand before the chieftains of the print media to dare tackle matters relating to their coveted profession with the high ideals of the Nigerian State? Though not strictly absurd, in the context of giving one’s view on the role of the press in the evolution of Nigeria, situating the subsequent degree of media leverage, compelling as it were, some textures of political behaviour, relating to the birth of every other political hegemony, can be quite unsettling.
And following the truth of a certain level of trepidation which envelopes interlopers in such courses of life as the muscle of the press, it can even rattle the quiet mind that one could step into frays that are not necessarily germane to on-going debates, if not appealing to the professional agenda setters.
Whereas I am not intimidated by the task itself, it could not have been entirely out of place for the hint of disquiet because of the caliber of men here today. The high and mighty of the national print media institution form the lever upon which our liberation fighters rode the storm of national affirmation and nation building.
I mean men and women who tore through the dead weight of social inertia and ripped apart the ineptitude which had militated against our periodically renewed journey toward the nation-state. It is indeed rewarding to know that it had to be the press, which made the call to arms against the colonial armada. It was the press which commenced the journey of reinventing the African after the degradation of the slave enterprise. It was the press which declared the possibilities of nationhood in the then collectives of colonial protectorates and other entities under foster suzerainty.
I am indeed humbled by the invitation to speak and join in the celebration of a practice, which has long lasted, and on whose promises of continued abilities, we shall refocus the nation. In undertaking this assignment, I am mindful of the fact of the press being quite sensitive to non-practitioners passing judgments on it.
Of course, I wouldn’t blame the press in this frame of mind, given the fact that its functions which come under the fullest public glare, have attracted both erudite and limping admonitions, even if such would mean seeking the same press as pedestals to climb on the public opinion ladder.
The thrust of my argument, in reviewing the press as a vehicle for social re-engineering and political redirection, will go as far as I believe that it must be compelled to assume its duty as the ultimate vehicle for social rehabilitation and consolidation of the old values attendant upon the hopes of national revival and eventual glorification.
I cannot pretend to be unaware of the argument on the need to reshape the press to attenuate what looks like a hegemony that is tending towards a factor of location. Such is even said to ride a carefully cultivated literary-trend, which is seen to frighten fellow countrymen who have aspired to be reassured of the good intensions of the practitioners. Possibly real, as the apprehension may have been, I have never ceased from appreciating the media, primarily from the stand of private initiatives and the commercial/profit undertone, which has since altered the compulsory state media content as a balancing factor.
Moreover, the reality of third world socio-political and economic scenario compels the need for the press, publicly or privately owned, to slant reality in league with the texture of ownership and control, even as we may have sought to impute that the individual practitioner is a direct testimony of personal, intellectual or otherwise development.
The Nigerian Press, or the press in Nigeria, is a concept that predates colonial state and society, as well as the Nigerian state project. In other words, the idea of journalism in Nigeria, which began, one in Calabar in 1847 and another in Abeokuta in 1859, in what eventually came to be a new nation-state, has witnessed a chequered evolution and varied roles. It has run from that evangelical (church) journalism in Calabar, alongside that of Reverend Henry Townsend’s Iwe Irohin, in Abeokuta, to the nationalism journalism of Herbert Macaulay’s Lagos Daily News, Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot, up through the post-independence communication consciousness, which has now been closely followed by what is seen as the hegemony-tending media barony of today.
Not just that because it predates the Nigerian state, the Nigerian press intervened at various stages of the nation’s evolution. It also propped arguments for hope and continuity of the project, irrespective of such vitiating factors as ethnicism, myopia, corruption and ignorance. In doing these, the press had set the stage, sometimes against the tide of national primo-factors and so earned the wrath of friends of, or indeed, the powers that be.
Progressively, too, the fangs of political suzerainty, coming of the angst of men and women in the corridors of power, came as a recurrent reminder of the gulf between the compelling factors of conscientisation as virtually monopolised by the media against the supposed leverages of State, which also supposed a right of possession of the key elements of building the society. It was like riding a storm, from the colonial imperial government censure of the 1903 Newspaper Act which sought a governmental regulation and regimentation of the press, through the 1909 sedition Law, the 1940 banning of the fiercely outspoken West African Pilot, and to the most recent draconian gag of the Decree Number 4 fame of 1984. Indeed, the Nigerian press has shuttled with Nigeria, bonding, if you like, on a journey to nationhood that is at best tortuous and steeped in institutional, as well as systemic gridlocks.
What is most emphatic about the evolution of the Nigerian press is that as the Nigerian state evolves, so does the institution too. From its negligible, even if decrepit, base level when it began in 1847 and 1859, a moment when Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of the earliest practitioners of the trade, described the Nigerian press as “an unprofitable, frustrating and soul–depressing career”, the emerging industrialization of the country has had a sizeable impact on the press.
The press has actually come a long way. It rode a production tide, right through the crude “hand-composition-of-type, to the system of mechanical- typesetting and the introduction of rotary-printing- press machinery with stereo–type equipment and appropriate accessories to substitute for the wharf dale flatbed printing machines which were in use”, in Nnamdi Azikiwe’s assessment, up till the sophistication of computer printing technology of the moment.
At the present, it is attractive and fashionable to declare that the technical outlook of the Nigerian press has soared tremendously. So also has the quality of its manpower, its institutional structure, complexity, as well as its roles and influence. From the haphazard journalism-training era of Adeoye Deniga of the 1909 Lagos Astrological Mercury, up through the unusual literary gifts of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo, to the journalism scholarship and erudition of the present crop of paddlers of the Nigerian press boat, it has been like a bittersweet metabolism.
But, of course, as the press waged its internal structural war of making a meaning and impact, even if to justify the necessity for recognition, it was not long on arrival as swift tools of maximum political power, which, as usually deployed, conferred on the holders such immense muscle to determine the trend, sometimes to the chagrin of others. The capacity, then, to muscle in on the awakening initiative, halting on its track such colonial attempts at totally turning the Africa man into a black European, easily confirmed the arrival of an intervening force capable of doing battles.
The organization and mobilization of interests prevalent in the pre-State of Nigeria, made no pretensions of emerging the doorway, arms-in-the-hand, in the interlocking of interests facing the collective nationalities, which formed the converging entity. More so, the boldness of European exploitation, attendant upon the ruthless termination of the values which propped our elements of native dignity, compelled those who knew and had the media to articulate their socio-political environment, to seek to alter the configuration.
In other words, it became a solid argument supporting the supposition that, save for the religious chronicling of the first ever mass media attempt of 1847 in Calabar and that of Townsend’s Iwe Irohin, the other pioneers were pre-determined on the side of the particular political trend they came to urge in their new-found careers.
And having commenced on that note as the first chieftains of the media industry did, it was definite that the tests of battle, the victories and defeats would confer on some of these pioneers the initiative to further deploy the acquired media muscle to controlling the trend of political actions.
Of course, it was not unexpected that those who acquired such powers or who suddenly realised the muscle they had developed, would not deploy them to exert concessions and redirect the objectives of State. The first in this regard were the liberation fighters who would not have been expected to attenuate their earned influence, much as they could be termed blackmailers, so far such assured them of inclusion and eventual consultation in the affairs of the State.
In that regard, then, it could not be called a perfect argument that the capacity for intervention of the media or the inclination to bend the objectives of the State, as may have been deciphered in recent times, had come of unnecessary bullishness of new practitioners but indeed had ridden a culture of confrontation, arising of intent to be consulted, considered and related with, in the ensuing administration of the nation-state.
Of course, it could not have been entirely unexpected that having come of the tradition of anti-establishment practice, factors of the press would continue on the vestiges of non-conformity and hostility to elements of state power. That way, also, the further establishment of various indigenous governments, each relating to political tendencies arising from different colourations of the liberation struggles, the media were certainly going to be polarized alongside governmental compartmentalization and subsequent ethnic tracking.
For example, the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic politics of the period before independence wriggled itself into the Nigerian press, with a very corrosive implication for the Nigerian state. Calculations for the appropriation of space and power and the push for hegemony on the status of pre-independence Lagos, threw Azikiwe’s West African Pilot chain and the Daily Service on collision courses.
It must be quickly stated that the Pilot and Service, aside their rival journalism trades, were also political megaphones of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group (AG) respectively. More than this, however, they were also at the forefront of the spatial politics of pushing for the ownership and tribal ascendancy of the city of Lagos. It must, nevertheless, be said, to the credit of the Nigerian press of the time, that it quickly snatched itself from the vortex of partisan politics, after very acidic editorial diatribes from both newspapers, to prepare itself for the crucial fireworks of national development, which led inexorably to the 1960 independence.
So, amidst these incendiary exchanges, both the Pilot and Service immediately entered a détente when a higher and more substantive issue of independence date came afloat. They both – and as such their Igbo and Yoruba ethnic stocks – changed gear to attack the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) which, to them, had suddenly become “the imperialist stooge”. To them, the “as soon as possible” caveat on the date of independence, which the NPC entered into, was nothing but retrogressive, as they both collectively had an eye on 1960 as the year of independence.
In spite of these periodic shuttles into pervasive mutual mudslinging, the Nigerian press of the period was nationalistic to the core. The British imperial lords were collectively identified as the common blight that vitiated self-rule and development for Nigeria. As such, the Nigerian press of the time became fecund grounds for militant nationalism against its perceived racial and imperialist policies. But immediately it became apparent that the colonial lords had an irrevocable eye on leaving Nigerian shores for self-government, fundamental differences in struggles became manifest.
As the political class became fragmented into factions and hegemonic interests, so did the tenor and tone of the Nigerian press advocations. And this coursed through the period immediately after independence, to government involvement and take-over of some newspapers, while some, like the Morning Post, established by the Federal Government in 1961, the Daily Sketch of the Western region government established in 1964, the Eastern Nigerian Outlook (1960) and Kaduna-based New Nigerian (1966), came on stream.
What I hope I have succeeded in doing with these illustrations is the fact that the Nigerian press has always oscillated on the same plane as the circumstantial and environmental shuttles of the Nigerian state.
The question, however is, what is the mileage of the Nigerian press in the evolvement of the Nigeria project? How well has the press fared in the onerous journey towards that social and political ideal of a Nigeria that can stand its own in the medley of international actors and players? In that global ideal of the press acting as the beacon of light for the sustenance of democracy, “a force for freedom lying between ignorance, chauvinism, lack of direction, infirm government and the citizens, a protector of the innocent”, what has been the credentials of the Nigerian press?
In taking a part of these questions, I will hastily refer this august audience to the expectations of a nation in the making. A British colonial officer, William Crocker, by way of admonition, in 1929, declared that “it would take a long time before there can be any hope of effective…homogeneity of feeling (in Africa, nay Nigeria, where he operated); (that is) …experiences such as the influence extending over centuries of common corpus of beliefs and loyalties.”
Crocker held this view because, as he had observed in the course of imperial duties, if you walk along a straight line, merely a hundred miles or so in the then colonies, you traverse peoples and cultures which for their similarities, scarcely touch on a single point down at bottom.
As every other colonial officer or European who had to be in Nigeria or any part of Africa where such vast territorial recognition was not prevalent, it was confusing. The most frustrating of this was that as Crocker observed, there was hardly ever going to be such binding force as the imperial enterprises of great European expansionists, which claimed territories and compelled alteration, rationalization and harmonization of elements of cultures. In that frame, the colonial masters were chagrined by the disparity, which, when put side-by-side European society, you find such compelling commonality as the common stamp of Greeco-Roman civilization and Christianity.
But if Crocker’s admonition could be termed an unnecessary colonial outburst, the latter-day question of Pearl Nadse on lack of an all-African inclusion unsettles the mind. Appalled that there was never a Caesar (Julius and Augustus) to seize and chisel Africa into one political culture and there was no supra-military hegemony to force a harmonized trend of cultural evolution as the milito-westernising influence of NATO or even as in the russification of Eastern Europe according to the communist whims of the presidium of the Soviet machinery, she argued that the fact of democracy appointed the press unto that divine function.
Reviewing the order of social influences touching on commonality, Sarglia Uysius declared that no nation is ever built without one inspiring institution straddling and commanding the order of relations between ethnic, linguistic and cultural groupings.
Our own Ade Ajayi, the Professor of History, did as much argue that discussions of the factors of social relations in Nigeria couldn’t escape aggregation and moderation, which must come of a certain force building on the attributes of the emerging nation. Perhaps, it was on the strength of this that reviewers of propagandist contents in modern Nigeria caution that the press may have failed or altered the sacred duty of showing the way.
I will not hastily pass judgment on the Nigerian Press, if as it were; I cannot even alter the conception and founding principles which motivated the media barons seated before me today. But if as it has now been accepted that the press must assume the mantle and act as the conscience of the nation, the question will now be, how ready can it be? If we say that it is as ready as the nation is, then can we say that the press would have been our own Caesar, our own NATO and own Communist Regime?
Somehow, I may have baffled you in the direction I have decided to take this discussion to. Of course, I owe you an explanation. The press, to me, has taken up a duty and it is, in my opinion, under the obligation to discharge it. But as it is today, as we have embraced democracy as our socio-political culture and as we have elected to let the more popular view ride the day, it becomes imperative to raise questions on the conduct of the media in the current dispensation.
In doing this, it is important to ascertain whether the current disposition of the media actually fitted the ideals of a Caesar, a NATO and of imperial Russia. It indeed compels an attention on the trend of the press vis-à-vis the indoctrination towards serial rancour, tirade, feeding frenzy, divisiveness, mediocrity, siege mentality and lynch mob disposition, among others.
Mind you, the press in Nigeria and in league with the old liberation fighters had strongly defined our high ideals. Take for instance the declaration of J. Bright Davies of the defunct Nigerian Times in 1910: “even like the tower of Babel, the political, the social and economic fabric the nation’s (Nigeria) existence…can only be established in oneness of motive and interest to consolidate our gains.” Amplifying him, Richard Akiwande Savage of the defunct Nigerian Spectator, May 29, 1923, wrote, “The safety of the people in modern society (Nigeria) depends upon the free and untrammeled expression of enlightened public opinion…through an objective press.”
Certainly, we expect so much from the press but what we are not sure is whether it has such muscle as the imperial matadors who reined over Europe and who designed and implemented the NATO doctrine. But if we have to excuse the press of not having such powers to proceed to making a nation as it can hardly do anything without inviting the opinion of the people, how then do we acquit the same institution, which appears determined to ride the feelings of persons, in designing juicy stories and fables about factors of national leadership?
Alternatively, if we say that it is not the duty of the press to build this nation, what with its lack of the coercive armour wielded by the Caesars, NATO and the Communists in Russia, it appears attractive to review the attitude of the press to the emerging nation state itself. Of course, consolidated in its sacred duty of shocking the society with the revelations of absurdities in high and low places, it appears to me that there is this mix-up in matters of ownership control, in contention with extraneous influence in the industry.
The disturbing development in this is that what we have seen lately is not an all-season media attitude but deliberate manipulation of the society by latter-day democrats, new civil society converts, cheer leaders of negativism and political revisionists, all of whom never elected to formally join in the sacred duty of acting Caesar or NATO or Russia or even the Opinion-editorial page editor.
Put differently, if the press cannot realistically be a sword-wielding Caesar, et al, why can’t it be a Suhto who employs the positive elements to alter cultures and on whose values the vestiges of the conquering Arga Khan were altered for good and empires of goodwill built?
Indeed, it is not for nothing that the question has been extended to include how well, or how much, the Nigerian press is implicated in the civic malaise that permeates society today.
Participatory democracy has, however, foisted on the media as a whole and the Nigerian press in particular, the tripodal responsibility of acting as:
a civic forum,
a watchdog and
a mobilizing agent.
Pippa Norris encapsulates this graphically when she states that: “Conceptions of representative democracy suggest three basic roles for the news media; as:
1. a Civic forum encouraging pluralistic debate about public affairs;
2. a watch dog against the abuse of power; and
3. a mobilizing agent encouraging public learning and participation in the political process”.
In other words, the social responsibility ability or disability of the Nigerian press is the very vortex where its contribution towards the building of society could be located.
Cultivating generational trends, moods and shifting preferences, media emphases have, allegedly, been erroneously on very disparaging issues of violence, urban conflict, cultivated fear and interpersonal mistrust. These, Austin Ranney says, “…altered the culture by intensifying ordinary… traditional low opinion of politics and politicians, by exacerbating the decline in their trust and confidence in their government and its institutions, and by helping them to vote than they used to be”.
These all brewed in the minds of the people angst about how vital democracy is and how the nation state project could be prosecuted via a free press working a democratic process.
Paradoxically, in the task of having the Nigerian press bond with the rest of Nigerians, on the way towards realizing the Nigeria project, the press is not being expected to bend over backwards to take on roles outside of its canonical scope and duties. With a transformative potential for democratic participation, the press ought to itemize and prioritise human desires, want and expectations, to place same by the doorsteps of those who administer the state.
Doing this avails the Nigerian press of a dual responsibility. One is ‘not totally severing itself from the activities of the state, though not, in the process, getting inebriated by it’ while the other is ‘not, for a moment, forgetting that, ultimately, the utilitarian requirement for the uplift of man is the baseline, the bench mark, of its professional consideration.’
In the quest for a Nigerian nationhood and a Nigeria idea that perfectly synchronizes with the desire of all, it behoves us all to, without bias, itemize those operational gridlocks which have, or are likely to inhibit the emergence of a Nigerian Press. Until very recently when the Nigerian systemic environment gratefully underwent a measure of stability, with the advent of democracy, the socio-political milieu had been very hostile and marked by perennial political and social instability.
Lately, however, there appears a certain level of vehemence in a carefree drive at claiming some messianic roles arising from overstating periodic national misadventures and mistakes of leadership. Of course, I do recognize the challenge of competition for readership and audience but in reality, would a Caesar or Suhto emerge where there is no intention to build bridges, establish a culture and harmonise divergences?
One easy claim of the press of today is that even though we are in a democracy, it appears slightly difficult to pick valid information since according to them, much of the system still carries the exclusivity and secrecy of the past military order.
Thus, as it is claimed, speculative journalism took centre stage. ‘Rumour’ or ‘concoction’ became substitutes for information flow and the governed became easy preys of such concocted news items. The danger was that, the people became more alienated and distanced in inter-ethnic relations, economic enterprises, political organization and cohesion and government. This was even worsened by the fad of attacking government policies – just as the norm – even when they were utilitarian.
We cannot forget the incidences of combating the military as if we were back to the liberation struggles. There was no doubt that because Nigerians desired democracy and indeed should be governed by persons of their choice, the task of stampeding the military out of power was considered an all-fair enterprise, even if unprofessional in style. This was the consolidation of the adversarial culture, which never relaxed, long after the liberation fighters concluded and left the field.
To me, we may be getting it all wrong if we feel that at the exit of military rule, we could not, advertently or inadvertently, be replicating this dangerous trend, even in a democracy. If, as particularly noted, the nascence of the political culture has yet to give birth to effective civil society, then tolerance in relations and sustainable awareness can be impaired if the press rides the fable stable rather than the course of leadership.
Indeed, such blight, as in stultifying the process of information flows, in a democratic and representative government, can breed a more restive political situation arising from the newfound openness of the society and a half-baked political tolerance.
The economy is, perhaps, one of the greatest indicators of the path to take in bonding the press to the Nigeria project train. With the progressive haemorrhaging of the economy, the relevance and institutional bite of the Nigerian press also began to suffer a serious haemorrhage. As other social services in the country began to kiss the canvass, so did the press. The costs of production sought a handshake with the firmament, which were inexorably transferred to the people who themselves are one of the subjects of communication.
The result is self-atrophy in the reduction of readership and circulation. The latter necessitated that the press was wheeled to the infirmary and rationalization of staff, as well as payment of peanuts as wages and emoluments, became the order of the day.
Strung closely to this is the nose–dive that honour took in the newsroom, and its replacement by mercantilism and market bargaining. Moral decay effectively reared its head and sensationalism, tabloidization, infotainment (all focusing on human-interest stories about scandal) became the order of the day. Those vital information of the requirement and ingredients of development suffered serious blows and ultimately, atrophy. Celebrities, typified in the triad of sex, power and money (spm) took over, with the major aim of railroading the unsuspecting reader into the purchase scam.
Considered from the point of right and wrong, morality and conscience, fact was one of the earliest casualties of this new wave journalism. The tendency to pull back and pursue subjective considerations altered the global picture of truth and it so became compartmentalized to suit whims and caprices of groups and interests. In most cases, the proprietor’s interest is well protected, while those of non-owners are moved to the slaughter slab.
Expectedly, these, in all, necessitated the country being dragged backwards from the path of nationhood and ultimately, the achievement of a holistic Nigeria concept.
Elsewhere in the recent past, I have had causes to point out the surging media tendency forcing the wrong expectation framework on Nigerians. While I did that, I never contended that the agenda, the priority, and indeed, the fancies of more vocal citizens, should quickly form the basis for national discourse.
It was my argument that it was indeed surprising, if not absurd, that the press would ignore the priority function of shaping the nation’s expectation framework so as to achieve societal cohesion and leadership focus. It was in one of my lectures in early 2001 that this issue of the press ignoring, or is it failing, in appreciating and transmitting the expectation framework, became prominent. Much as I do not dismiss the other arguments, particularly the one relating to the press working on the tempo of the society, we cannot negate the fact of statutory duty and social responsibility, compelling bold actions in toeing the right path, not necessarily the very popular track.
Someday, I hope the press, in self-study, will seek to understand what now looks like a hunger for heroes and subsequent lowering of the standards in the now emerging culture of ‘scaling it down to create celebrities,’ any how. In the first place, the failure to project the right social frame for Nigerians to consider their society, and for the citizenry to relate their expectation framework, exposed the press as having failed to take up the challenge of positioning their beloved country for progressive, not necessarily a leaping, chugging and bluffing, race to sustainable growth and development.
Put the other way, Nigerians who unfortunately suffer the plummeting of the national economy, emerging from eras of great uncertainty, needed to appreciate the quantum of neglect and dislocation, which should take time to streamline.
Of course, Nigerians were not wrong in hoping variously for immediate rewards or revamping of their economy, improvement of their social worth and stabilization of their environment, but such could not have been well articulated given the known extent of decay before May 1999.
Let me make one point clear here. The fact that it remains imperative for the press to sustain the campaign for the transformation of the society also confers on it the duty to arrive the arena with such facts of stability that the very state it seeks to revive or sustain is not truncated on account of the stampede to have things mature right away. I may have to illustrate this with the stand of Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins: “that an event is not just a happening in the world, it is a relation between a certain happening and a symbolic system of reporting…”
Mind you, I am not advocating a stultification of facts; rather, I am more inclined to a consolidation of the fact as the instrument to weave the truth along the realistic line on which the society must sail. In other words, the press, as pointed out by James Curran and Michael Gurevitch (in Mass Media and Society), cannot and should not seek to turn the ideal into the real. The ideal, they argue, is ceaselessly pursued. But on the track are points of realism, which cannot be ignored, how much ever we may have hoped for the ideal.
My translation of this is that the ideals of attaining political independence for Nigeria, the ideals of achieving economic growth and stability and the ideals of living in a democracy, all rode the train of realism with global antecedents standing ahead as beacons, which beckon on the citizenry. But in the same vein, the ideals of achieving the same speed of development, possibly sweeping off the political economy questions and as characterized by democracies across the globe, the press in Nigeria may have ignored the function of a peculiar environment and in-cohesive elements of culture, which affect patterns of reporting.
Again, much as it remains the ideal to achieve a oneness of Nigeria, in both political and socio-economic spheres, the reality of this being a large and expressive hope, has not dawned on the press as necessarily evolutionary and compellingly gradual that such attempts at forcing it would breed mistrust and indeed tension.
My argument, of course, is not a vitiation of the feats of our great press. I am only worried that having craved heroes as it were, having responded too vigorously to the yearnings of the people for quick overhaul of the system, and having driven the adversarial way too long, the institutions responsible for the training of journalists must revive its pursuit of the principles of the profession. But perhaps, the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) will do more in redirecting the ship to harbour.
I have been amply advised that the personality makes the news, but I have had causes to wonder whether such personalities had to be invented and made heroes by the press! Once, in one of my lectures this year, I had wondered whether the press enjoyed creating men out of women; whether the press believed it could not function without making heroes of little figures and whether the press knew the personal tragedy it compelled on localized citizens whose limited ambition would not have exceeded the immediate localities if they were not dragged to the front pages and forced to earn unmerited statuses which precede failure and disaster.
I got worried as was the case because, much as we can say that the nation will move on as it must outlive all, the fact is yet un-impeached that the state runs on the reality of the right quality of men and women taking the front seats. It can never be on the sudden invention of heroes as we have done through our press.
Certainly, we cannot have a Caesar or NATO and we cannot have a sweeping Communist regime to bluff through our varieties and force cohesion. We can hardly even dream of such empire builders who never invited opinions of people before ramming them through political cultures. But the possibility of a Suhto is there.
A Suhto informs the chances and opportunities for a more representative reporting pattern, a further examination of the challenges of the national expectation framework, an intent at building bridges, great patriotism, less feeding frenzy and less siege mentality.
Ultimately, it is the renewal of the promises of optimistic prognosis and social repositioning, for which we say, as usual, in Enugu State:
To God be the glory.
1. Azikiwe, Nnamdi: My Odyssey (autobiography); Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1994.
2. Muktar, Gwoni: Insight Magazine; Spotlight Press Limited, Lagos; May 27, 1994.
3. Ross, Dina: Surviving the media jungle; W.H. Allens & Co. Inc., London; 1990.
4. Currab, James & Guverich, Michael: Mass Media and Society; Oxford University Press, New York, 2000.
5. Norris, Pipa, “A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Post Industrial Societies”; Cambridge University Press, 2000.
6. Dare, Olatunji and Uyo, Adidi (ed.), “Journalism in Nigeria”; Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council, 1996.
7. Uche, Luke Uka, “Mass Media People and Politics in Nigeria”; Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, India.