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Problem Of Ethics And Journalism In Nigeria

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Being a paper presented by  Dan Agbese  Editor-In-Chief, Newswatch Magazine at a workshop organised by the Rivers State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Port Harcourt, March 4, 2010.

Excerpts:

An ideal is a prize worth fighting for but it is not enough to prevent anyone from abusing his position in the news media. No reporter is an angel. All men and all women have a tendency to misuse their positions in ways that do no credit to their professions or vocations. Therefore, journalism, like medicine and law, does require a code of ethics to guide the professional conduct of editors and reporters. The first attempt to provide Nigerian journalists with such a code was made in 1978 by the Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO. The organised was made up of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria. The Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Union of Journalists. It issued what it called Code of Honour for Nigerian journalists. The eight point code stipulates as follows:

1) That the public is entitled to the truth and that only correct information can form the basis for sound journalism and ensure the confidence of the people.

2) That it is the moral duty of every journalist to have respect for the truth and to publish or prepare for publication only the truth to the best of his knowledge.

3) That is the duty of the journalist to publish only facts; never to suppress such facts as he knows; never to falsify either to suit his own purposes, or any other purposes.

4) That it is the duty of the journalist to refuse any reward for publishing or suppressing news or comments, other than salary and allowances legitimately earned in the discharge of his professional duties.

5)  That the journalist shall employ all legitimate means in the collection of news, and he shall defend at all times the right to free access, provided that due regard is paid to the privacy of individuals.

6) That once information has been collected and published, the journalist shall observe the universally accepted principle of secrecy and shall not disclose the source of his information obtained in confidence.

7) That it is the duty of the journalist to regard plagiarism as unethical.

8) That it is the duty of every journalist to correct any published information found to be incorrect.

This Code of Honour does qualify as a code of ethics for Nigerian journalists. It prescribes the limits of ethical standards. Its primary objective is to focus the journalist’s mind on his professional responsibilities to the society. Time will not permit us to examine the code seriatim. But let us look at the first item in the code in the context of our discussion here. It prescribes that the public is entitled to the truth. We need not ask, as Pilate did. What is truth? We do have a fairly good idea what truth is in certain circumstances. It is true, for instance, that we are gathered here at this workshop. It is also true that President Musa Yar’Adua is ill and has not been seen in public for more than three months. These truths are also facts. They cannot reasonably be disputed.

Yet, truth and facts are not so easily interchangeable. In the court of law, a man may swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He can then proceed with a straight face to tell lies. Truth is often a mixture of facts with processed opinions about issues. I personally prefer to speak of facts. Facts are more manageable in terms of reliability than truth.

One of the fundamental problems with reporting is that reporters depend almost entirely on other people. Other people give us the facts. Even if the reporter witnesses an accident, he is still obliged to confirm the number of casualties from police or hospital authorities. If his sources tell him lies, he  invariably but innocently serves the public with the diet of lies so dished out to him. This is worse in a dispute. It is said that in war, the first casualty is the truth. It is the same in all disputes. In all disputes, the reporter is confronted with two sets of facts or truths. The first set consists of the facts as they are; the second set consists of doctored or varnished facts that may be strange to the truth but are nevertheless intended to serve vested interest. Political facts are sweeter than real facts.

Take the neglect of the Niger Delta for instance. There are certain basic facts that confirm that this neglect is a fact confirmed by devastated farmlands and the pollution of waters in the area. But have the federal government and the oil companies done anything over the years to remedy the peculiar problems of the area? Once you raise this question, you are instantly bombarded with all sorts of facts because here  we are no longer dealing with facts as they are but facts as the parties to the dispute intend them for public consumption. Here is the challenge for the reporters and editors in this region. The challenge for them is to rise above the propaganda and dig diligently for the truth;  how much was OMPADEC given and how much did it do? How much has NDDC been given so far and how much has it done to change the face of the region? How much have the state governments in the region received as their shares of the derivation fund and how much have they done with the money? These are verifiable facts. If the truth is known it may help to ease tension and volatility in the region.

Let us look at another aspect of the first item in the code of honour. The freedom of the press to serve the public the truth to which the code says it is entitled is severely restricted by a number of factors. A publishable fact must pass the test of its being in the public interest. Who decides that and on what basis? The editor, of course, does not quite often on grounds of universal convention. All of us guard our private lives. We believe that our privacy must not be invaded because what we do in private lives in nobody’s business. Is the private life of a private individual of public interest? By convention, we tend to leave people alone unless and until they cross the boundary and deny themselves the right to their own privacy.

It is said that a public officer has no private life. This may well be so, but even here public interest draws the line. It is not everything we know about the private life of a public officer that is publishable. Convention imposes on us the obligation to protect the integrity of a public officer under certain circumstances.

Some facts offend the laws of the land. We cannot publish such facts because publishing them is deemed not to be in the public interest. If we do, we pay dearly for our indiscretion. Here I draw your attention to the laws of libel, sedition, pornography, national security and official secrecy.

Another set of facts the press cannot publish concerns those facts whose publication would be injurious to public safety, public morality and national defence. If Nigeria is at war with another country, the movement of its troops would be a fact but the public is not entitled to know that because its publication would compromise national security and put the lives of our troops at risk.

There are even more difficulties that confront the reporter in carrying out his daily duty of serving the public with the truth to which it is entitled. These difficulties or constraints fall into two broad categories – internal and external. Internal constraints refer to a) proprietorial interests, b) personal interests and c) self-censorship.

Brigadier-general Samuel Ogbemudia, former military governor of the old Mid-West Region, once put it quite nicely when he said no government sets up a newspaper to criticise itself. Despite the sometimes high-minded mission statements of proprietors, all of them have vested personal, economic, religious and even ethnic interests in setting up newspapers or radio and television stations. They expect journalists working for them to fully protect those interests at all times and at the same time advance them, even at the expense of their business revivals.

Journalists are human beings. We all have our personal interests and those of our friends to protect and even promote. Those interests do tend to exert some influence in the way we do our job. This is usually evident in self-censorship. We restrain ourselves from publishing facts known to us about issues and event because doing so would compromise our interest or those of our friends.The external constraints are (a) inducements, (b) pressures from individuals, groups and organisations and (c) laws and administrative decisions. Remember the brown envelope syndrome? Those who invite reporters to press conferences know what they must do – they must induce the reporters with money to publish their stories. Reporters and editors are also induced to kill stories when their publication would affect certain vested interests. The more pernicious aspect of this constraint is found in a situation where editors and reporters are induced or to be more polite about it, persuaded to publish damaging stories about individuals and organisations. Here the public is not served the truth and by the time the truth is known, the damage has been done and someone’s integrity has been called into question.

All of us face pressures from our friends and communities to give the public some varnished truths. Sometimes we are even blackmailed to do this. And truth becomes the casualty.

Legal and administrative constraints are hurdles in the path of the reporter’s efforts to give the public the truth. Governments in Nigeria from the colonial times to the present, have systematically run the ring around the Nigerian press. Prince Tony Momoh has detailed the various laws specifically directed at constraining the press. There have been eighty or so of these laws. Perhaps, the most notorious among them were the Newspapers Act of 1964, decree 11 of 1976 and decree four of 1984. the more dangerous of these constraints during our long winter of military rule were not the laws, draconian as some of them were, but that what was not an offence became an offence at the whims of the military men and journalists were punished for them. A good case in point was the publication by Newswatch magazine in April 1987 of stories that dissected the report of the Samuel Cookey panel on political reforms. The Babangida administration took offence and banned the magazine for six months. The magazine committed no offence because the report was a public document and its publication did not endanger national security in any way. If anything, the magazine sought to promote public discourse on the political future of the country.

To be continued

Dan Agbese

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Issues

Landmark Achievements By Mr Projects

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The Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration has recorded so many landmark projects and dividends of democracy in its five years of existence. It has delivered so much dividends of democracy to its teeming admirers and the entire good people of the Rivers State. As it is generally said, one good turn deserves another and if somebody does what is good – you encourage him by giving him a pat on the back. And by showing gratitude so that the person will continue in the good work, to do more.
Governor Nyesom Wike government has scored so many first in the giant strides he has achieved so far for the state. Especially in terms of infrastructural developments across the state and its environs particularly in the areas of roads, healthcare delivery system, education, security, trade and commerce as well as tourism etc.
In the areas of roads rehabilitation and roads construction Mr. Projects stands tall especially in transforming . the already congested state headquarters, the garden city to a more modern city. The state government is simultaneously constructing about five flyovers, one at Garrison junction another at Rumuokoro intersection, yet another from first to second Artillery junction at Rumuogba and the Rumuola flyover which was a single carriage way. But is now being expanded to dual carriage way to accommodate more vehicular traffic on the PH – Aba Express Road axis also the GRA intersection flyover is ongoing.
All these is intended to ease congestion and vehicular traffic flow in the metropolis as well as causing the smooth and free movement of cars, buses, trucks and passengers / pedestrians.
Also recently, the state government rehabilitated some roads in the state and its environs. And awarded the construction of Woji – Aleto – Alesa Refinery road to help open up these communities that make up that area. As well as serve as a link road for vehicular traffic coming from the refinery through Woji to Trans – Amadi axis and back. This will go a long way in making vehicular traffic flow and movement easier in the area.
The unprecedented success scored in the area of security and peace is a major case in point. Of a truth, there is peace and harmonious co­existence in the state and its various communities. Incidences of criminality like cult clashes and killings or militancy has been reduced to its barest minimum. Crime in general including kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, 419 etc. has been relegated to the background. No wonder businesses and commercial activities can thrive and projects can carryon unperturbed because of peace and security in the state.
In addition, the government deserves a pat on the back for its cordial relationship with the police and all the various security agencies in the state for working in tandem with them. Also there is mutual co-operation and understanding between the state government and security operatives to stem the tide of insecurity in the state.
Meanwhile, in the area of tourism, night life in Port Harcourt and its environs is gradually picking up, if not for the Covid 19 pandemic scourge. The Port Harcourt Pleasure Park built by this administration with various fun sport facilities and Amusement Park, including a cinema is a must for families, youths, children and a tourists destination. Especially for tourists and visitors to the garden city for the first time. This is coupled with the various shopping malls and event centres in the different parts of the city. For those who would like to shop and unwind at the various relaxation spots. In relation to that are the colourful eateries and restaurants at different parts of the city with mouth watering delicacies and cuisines, all these for their enjoying pleasure.
Moreover, in the area of trade and commerce the state government constructed an ultra – modern vegetable and fruit garden market in the city near Kaduna Street which was earlier gutted by fire. This beautiful edifice has added elegance to the skyline and landscape of the garden city. It has made shopping – buying and selling more convenient and comfortable whether it is sunny or when raining. Also it has improved the sanitation and cleanliness of the market and the environment. Likewise there has been increase in shopping malls and shopping centres in the state. More investors are being attracted to the state because of government business friendly policies.
Similarly, in the aspect of education serious rehabilitation and renovation work has been carried out on so many primary and post – primary schools in Port Harcourt city and the various local government areas. There is better funding for the Rivers State University with more projects awarded to enhance learning and the overall development of the institution. The Ignatus Ajuru University, Rumuolumeni is also being given adequate attention in terms infrastructure and staff development.
The renamed Elechi Amadi Polytechnic is witnessing phenomenal infrastructural growth in terms of physical development as well as getting most of its courses accredited by the NBTE – National Board for Technical Education. Likewise the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori is being funded and repositioned for the challenges of the time.
Additionally, healthcare delivery system has improved in the state especially at the tertiary level with the addition of a teaching hospital to the Rivers state University Medical School. A new State of the art, five star magnificent hospital, with cutting edge technology facilities has been established. To train doctors, nurses and other health care professionals both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels including carrying out research and development.
Also to act as a referral centre for many advanced cases of diseases and sicknesses that requires specialist attention and care not only in the state but even from outside the state.
Furthermore, in the area of primary health care and secondary health care, there has been massive improvement in facilities and equipment, including availability of drugs not only in Port Harcourt but in the various local government areas. Most of their structures have been rehabilitated and renovated to give them a face lift and to make them conducive for health care delivery.
Indeed, Mr. Projects scored many highs, in the state’s handling and management of the coronavirus pandemic. He established isolation centres and insisted that the Covid 19 protocol must be observed by persons coming into the state by land, sea or air. He placed a ban on all borders sea, land and air which is best international practice to protect Rivers State and its citizens. The government also imposed curfew on Port Harcourt and its environs by restricting movement and placing a ban on markets and other public or social gatherings. These restrictions and bans and adherence to best practices helped curtailed and reduced the rate of Covid 19 cases and its spread in the state.
In addition, Mr. Project’s humane disposition came to play with the distribution of food stuffs and other palliatives to the citizens and good people of Rivers State.
Kudos and salute to a quintessential gentleman, an administrator cum politician par excellence. A worthy and distinguished son of Rivers State and Nigeria. His Excellency, Mr Projects you are nature’s gift to the state and nation. Keep on with the good work as posterity beckons.
Ayooso, a journalist, resides in Port Harcourt.

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Dry Taps Set To Flow Again In Rivers State

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In continuation of its unwa vering commitment to improve the living standards of Rivers people and prepare every sector in the State to be fully ready to adapt to the millennial challenges of a fast changing global society, the Rivers State Government, on August 31st, 2020, signed contracts for the rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply for Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
It has been universally acknowledged that water is at the core of sustainable development and is critical for socio-economic development, healthy ecosystems and for human survival itself.
It is vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare and productivity of populations. Water is a finite and irreplaceable resource in time and space and it is only available if well managed.
Where water is reliably available, economic opportunities are enhanced. Where water is unreliable or of inadequate quality, or where water-related hazards are present, there will be drags on growth.
Today, due to rapid population growth, economic development and other challenges that impact the natural resources, the value of water has increased dramatically and so, this project, which is expected to receive funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB), will not only upgrade 496 kilometers of pipeline which will produce 330,000 cubic metres of potable water per day, it will equally create over 1,200 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs for Rivers people.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Port Harcourt Water Corporation (PHWC), Chief Ibibia Walter, signed on behalf of the Rivers State Government, while for the consortium of the three project contractors, Chen Kangle signed for CGC Nigeria limited, Yang Gengqi for Top International Engineering Corporation and Iskandar Taslakian signed for Mothercat Limited.
The need for a project of this nature and magnitude to be undertaken at a time like this cannot be over emphasised. Indeed, one existential situation which many Rivers people have taken for granted is the fact that the Water Supply and Sanitation infrastructure in the State has been in poor and pathetic conditions for a long time, caused by years of neglect as well as decayed and limited pipe network.
The population of the State has also grown far beyond the existing old PWD initiated forty-year old network, with no new investment on the network over time and this has further been stretched by the urban centre which used to be the Old Port Harcourt Township, Diobu, and Borikiri now extended into most of Obio/Akpor LGA, thus expanding the frontiers of the capital territory.
It has been said and also true that, “The type of access, quantum of water supply and quality of sanitation services available, determines the quality of life as well as health of the people and the potential for poverty alleviation”.
In Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs, water is either privately sourced or bought from water vendors (mai-ruwa) at very exorbitant rates with doubtful quality.
Realising that there is a lot of potential to produce sufficient water in the State due to a good recharge from our aquifers, yet the current production is not sufficient to meet the demand and spread of the city,  the administration of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike keyed into the Urban Water Sector Reform and Port Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project, to address this very heavy loss of the distribution network efficiency, poor quality of water supply and sanitation services.
The scope and benefits of this water project are quite impressive and it will also deliver the following:
(i) Ensure that the existing abundant water resources of the State are provided in a sustainable and affordable manner;
(ii) Improve the overall efficiency and strengthen the institutions to deliver services effectively whilst maintaining standards in terms of quality and quantity;
(iii) Promote the fact that water is both an economic good as it is a social good by encouraging and sensitizing customers to now pay for water to ensure the sustainability of the service for the future.
The infrastructure support components of this project aim at: fully rehabilitating and expanding the Port Harcourt water supply system and equally integrating environmental, climate change and green growth principles to ensure long-term sustainability of the infrastructure.
Overall Sanitation Facilities will also be greatly improved with the provision of comprehensive sanitation structures in markets and motor parks, including toilets/bathrooms (with separate compartments for men and women), hand washing facilities, and treatment facilities (septic tanks and biodigestors).
New facilities will also be constructed at 23 markets, rehabilitated and expanded facilities will be provided at eight major motor parks, six slaughter houses have also been earmarked to receive facelifts with new hygienic and standardized abbatoir upgrades and the peculiar nature of our waterfronts, which have presented considerable sanitation challenges over the years, will be
addressed with new and modern facilities.
The construction of a pilot sewage/solid management system at Eagle Island, will be undertaken, as part of the Sanitation and Waste Water Management Plan under Component 3, and this will be complemented with an estimated 36 km network-based waste system with a treatment capacity of 1000m3.
Hygiene  and Sanitation behavioural Changes across all sectors will be brought about through public campaign carried out together with the Rivers State Primary Health Care Management Board, Ministry of Education and the Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs, coordinated under an overall theme of “healthy city” or “clean and proud” or similar).
One of the most attractive and eagerly anticipated possibilities for Rivers people is the job creation capacity of this project which will open up exciting and very lucrative opportunities for Small-scale, Public Private Partnerships in the provision of public sanitation facilities.
With the uninterrupted flow of  potable water, the management of the public sanitation facilities established under the project, will be outsourced to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises, as well as willing individuals in the form of management contracts, disposal and evacuation services and other similar arrangements. This will be undertaken in collaboration with the Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs (who will assume ownership of assets) and the Ministry of Women Affairs whose mandate and experience includes the promotion of women entrepreneurs.
The Port Harcourt Sanitation and Waste Water Management subcomponent will develop a comprehensive and integrated sanitation master plan, for sewage, solid wastes management and the devastating challenge of flood control and in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Act Cap E12  LFN 2004, the AfDB’s Integrated Safeguard System (ISS) as well as the World Bank’s Operational Policies (OP). An ESIA has already been undertaken by the State Government through the Port Harcourt Water Supply Project to update the Report disclosed in 2013 and a final Draft of the Report has been completed.
Another futuristic attraction of this project is the preparation and updating of a Resettlement Action Plan in accordance with African Development Bank Operational Safeguard (OS2) and the World Bank Operational Policy (OP 4.12). This plan has already outlined procedures that the project proponent will follow and the actions to be taken to mitigate adverse effects, compensate losses where necessary and provide developmental benefits to Persons Affected by the Project (PAP), and communities there-from.
Governor Wike, speaking during the contract signing formalities, urged the contractors to mobilise to site preparatory for the expected project flag-off on the 1st of October, 2020.
“Let me warn, in Rivers State, we do not compromise with quality of work viz-a-viz timely delivery of contracts. I shall be visiting all project sites unannounced, to monitor progress and compliance with specification.
“I am requesting the African Development Bank (AfDB) that will finance the project to do so with 100 per cent cost of net of taxes. The COVID-19 pandemic presented huge challenges, as the accruable revenues both to Federal Statutory Allocation and Internally Generated Revenue has dropped.
“The Commissioner of Water Resources and Rural Development and the Managing Director of Port Harcourt Water Corporation should engage AfDB with the view to get the Bank to finance 100 percent of the cost of the project net of taxes.
“I am aware that the loan closing date is April 2021. I am directing the commissioner and the managing director to submit application to the Federal Ministry of Finance and AfDB to extend the duration of the loan by two years to enable full implementation of all components of the urban water sector reform.
“They should further engage AfDB with a view of restoring the works at Trans-Amadi, Abuloma, Woji and Elelenwo regrettably cancelled by other Development Partners, “ he stated.
The Rivers State Governor, while assuring that he would not hesitate to fully implement the PHWC restructuring and organisational build-out report, also pointed out that his administration has opened a new phase of commitment to reposition water supply services across the state and affirmed that, through the project, thousands of Rivers people would be engaged directly and indirectly throughout the life span of the project, with the multiplier effect filtering into other communities as expansion spreads across the state.
Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Dr. Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja, said the project would have four new devices reservoirs located at Rumuola, Diobu, Moscow and Borikiri in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, adding that there would be eight elevated tanks with carrying capacity of about 1000 to 1500 cubic meters of water and about 17 boreholes in about six cluster areas connected to water treatment plants, amongst other functional and operational structures.
The Commissioner, who noted that the Rivers State Government has taken a vigorous step in addressing the challenges of providing potable water supply and sanitation in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas through the launching of the Port Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project (PHWSSP) in April, 2016, declared that the project which is executed with credit facility provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Development Association (World Bank) has helped to improve service delivery to over 2 million residents in these areas.
“Expectedly, the water from this project will be potable, environmentally friendly and steady when the project is completed. It will also be provided from a controlled transportation of water to the various households within the project area,” Gogo-Jaja noted.
He confidently expressed joy and gratitude that Governor Nyesom Wike, who has always believed in the popular maxim that ‘water is life’, has  ensured that the project comes to fruition without any external influence on the Bidding and Procurement Process.
The Managing Director of Port Harcourt Water Corporation, Chief Ibibia Walter, said his team worked assiduously within eight months to secure the contractors trusted to execute the project and thanked Governor Wike for his commitment to ensure that rural dwellers access potable water in the State.
Speaking for CGC Nigeria limited, Chen Kangle who expressed gratitude to the Governor for the trust in his company to handle the projects, assured of timely delivery. Yang Gengqi who spoke for the Top International Engineering Corporation said they have been in Nigeria since 2017 and are confident to deliver a quality project, while for Mothercat Limited, Iskandar Taslakian, pledged to engage indigenous workers on their sites.
With the signing of the rehabilitation and upgrading of water supply project for Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor capital territory areas, Governor Nyesom Wike has once again astounded his detractors and naysayers with his astute administrative and visionary leadership acumen, by providing holistic governance which accommodates all sectors of the society and ensures that the delivery of social welfare and infrastructural dividends are not only comprehensive but have been equally designed and tailored in anticipation of the unfolding challenges and impact of globalization on an oil-rich state like Rivers State.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.

 

Paulinus Nsirim

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Broadcasting As Engine Room For Development

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Development is the process of moving the world, of engaging in the task of self improvement with the available, not only for all aspects of a person’s development but also for aspects of a nation’s development. Following this, the broadcast media are the most vital instrument for influencing the masses to either consume or conserve.
It is increasingly recognised that broadcasting has an important role to play in development as a widespread tool of information transfer, as a method to improve governance, as an important economic security in its own right and as a potential access point to new information and communications technologies.
In developing countries an issue which does not appear on television or radio does not even exist. Here in the developing world, the question is: to what extent can broadcasting be as engine room for development in educating the masses?
Communication is the most vital factor in building and developing nations. Following this, national development in any society cannot be achieved without widespread education for children and adults. Every spheres of life will remain static without well packaged information. Information to a large extent is an asset; a resource, a commodity with social economic and political consequences.
Education is recognised as the most potential instrument for development. Through education, people assimilate fundamental values and develop new ones. Certain prescribed goal are realised in areas of economic growth, health cares, political and social awareness, political stability, self-reliance, national identity, among other things.
The mass media, particularly the electronic or broadcast media, become a powerful and effective instrument achieving these national goals.
Broadcasting is the transmission of signals through electronic agent wares which convert audio and video signals in a form in which they can be received in the audiences’ homes. Broadcasting can facilitate social development. It can be used to promote and build the living standard of a society or nation through the information in form of programmes they produce and disseminate to their audience.
Broadcast media include radio and television. Radio is broadcasting which appears to the auditory and visuals senses.
Nigeria is a giant nation strongly backed up by a collective will to develop and forge ahead. The responsibility of carrying the people of the nation along its development journey falls on the broadcast media.
It is believed that Nigeria nation has not less than 250 ethnic groups with different social cultural backgrounds. This calls for a medium that can cross coasters, break through all barriers and make developmental impact on the audience. For there to be unity and national development, there must be effective communication.
Has the broadcast media really helped in advancement and national development? Over the years, lots of studies and researches have been carried out and consequently many books written and published in order to discover the answer to the above question. Efforts have been made to find out the relationship between the media and advancement in national development. Today it is accepted that educational programmes as the last broadcast media produce some effect in the audience in the areas of development, especially the rural dwellers, who hold the key to national development in every nation.
Development can only be achieved when there is a high level of literacy in community. With the advancement of technology in broadcasting field, there tends to be a growing awareness among societies.
Therefore, there is a belief that the people’s perceptions and understanding of media messages are considered high. People embark on industrialisation as a result of mass media influence. The world is ever changing thus the general public wants to be informed or rather, educated on some necessities of life, especially those who were not opportune to be enrolled into the various institutions of learning.
The broadcast media which is the electronic media are the most prominent and significant means for development. They are younger than oral and print media being mainly the products of twenty century. Radio appears to be more powerful. It stands out as having the greater power of reaching the diverse people of the Nigeria nation. Radio, as a medium of development, has wider scope of coverage and as a commonly used medium makes greater impact on the audience. Radio is a mechanical medium of communication whose reception, according to Okonkwo (1991), is aural. It makes use of sense of sound and hearing to convey its message to the audience.
Radio programmes play a vital role in National Development. They bring up entertainment programmes that serve as a purpose in the communication of development topics or issues especially radio drama. This offers creative opportunities for broadcasters to raise, frame or discuss development issues. Entertainment is considered a means to an end with dedication programmes designed to engage audience in the sustainable development agenda.
Entertainment programmes provide knowledge and information about development topics, raising awareness or meeting the practical needs of certain groups in society (eg teenage girls, ethnic minorities or those art of work).
The role of the broadcasting in promoting good governance in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised. Despite the constitutional provisions, as well as the enormous financial resources, and huge potentials of the country, including the social and economic policies that have been implemented by successive administrations, good governance continues to be elusive to Nigeria.
In an attempt to enthrone good governance in the country, recent democratic administrations organised good governance tours, where officials of the Federal Ministry of Information alongside journalists from various media houses, inspected the progress of work on the projects executed by the different agencies of the Federal and the State governments. The objective of the tour is for the media to assess the performance of elected public office holders at both the Federal and State levels.
The Nigerian Constitution in Section 22 made provision for such an exercise where it stated interalia, “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times become free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.” This links the media to the establishment of good governance.
All aspects of good governance are facilitated by a strong and independent media within a society. Only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticise the public administrations policies and actions can good governance take hold which brings development.
Independent media are like beacon that should be welcomed when there is nothing to hide and much to improve. The media allow for ongoing checks and assessments of the activities of government and assist in bringing public concerns and voices into the open by providing a platform for discussion.
Freedom of the media allows for the formation of a public sphere in which a wide range of debates can take place and a variety of viewpoints be represented. The citizenry can thereby use the media to express their assent or dissent or explore aspects of issues not considered through official channels. Government has a responsibility to allow the media to contribute to the participation process, especially in areas where face -to-face participation is not possible. This will foster good governance and development.
Good governance is an essential framework which serves as a means of achieving wider goals such as social and political development, alleviation of poverty and protection of the environment. Without good governance, social, economic and political progress is difficult to attain and impossible to guarantee. In fact, it is the bedrock of any modern democracy. Promoting good governance is not an easy task as it is much more involving than organising elections and appointing people into the public offices. A free and critical broadcast media is essential to the growth and development of any democracy.
Tasie is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

 

 

Gift Tasie

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