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Media Scourge Versus Police Enigma

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Mummy, mummy, four

            people with guns and in uniform stopped daddy’s car on our way to Zoo today and asked daddy to bring out some documents. And when we got to the Zoo, another group of three men and a woman holding pen and papers were trying to question daddy and I what we were doing at the Zoo.

Ade, a three-year old boy was narrating his experience to his mother when his father took him and his two siblings to the Zoo in Lagos for excursion during the Easter period.

Oblivious of the roles and duties of these two groups of ‘interlopers’ trying to meddle into the affairs of his family, Ade saw the four policemen holding the gun at a check-point and the four journalists with pen and papers at the Zoo as unnecessary threats to them. Ade had already made up his mind not to follow his father to the Zoo again. But his mother who explained the roles of the men in uniform and the duties of the members of the pen fraternity saved the situation.

That was a similar explanation the author of the book we are all gathered here to launch today tried to offer to his audience in “Media Reports and Police Image in Re-branding Nigeria”.

All over the world, two prominent institutions that hold the key to the survival of any society are the Mass Media and the Police Force. No society survives without information. As the carrier of information, the mass media is not just the watchdog of the society, but also the conscience of the nation. But for the mass media, our society would have remained in the medieval age and most countries of the world would have continued to languish under the tyranny of military dictatorship.

In the same vein, the Police Force is another important institution that has helped in keeping the world together. It is pre-requisite to social orderliness. Besides its unique role as the law enforcement agent, the task of peace-keeping operations around the world rests on its shoulders. It is not for nothing that the United Nations accords the Police Force the necessary respect and dignity.

Ironically, while the men and women in Police uniform in other parts of the world are held in high esteem, the Nigeria Police receive the strings of bullet from the Nigerian populace.

Reasons for this are not far-fetched. Of all the Nigerian institutions with image problems, the Nigeria Police Force ranks the worst. Its mere mentioning instills fear and creates suspicion in people’s minds. No one hears the word ‘Police’ in Nigeria without looking over his shoulders.

The Transparent International (TI) in one of its recent reports described the Nigeria Police as one of the worst harbingers of corrupt practices. The image of the Nigeria Police, to say the least, has gathered so much stains that no detergent can cleanse overnight. The battered image of this important institution has not only made the men and women in Police uniform the butt of beer parlour jokes, but has also earned Nigeria an unenviable status among comity of nations.

But how did Nigeria come about this ugly image? How did an important institution such as the Police Force become the scoff of the town? Why, how and when did the Nigeria Police become object of ridicule? Are mass media reports and several other reports by the anti-corruption agencies about the Nigeria Police true reflections of their image? If these reports are correct, then what detergent can we apply to cleanse the dirty linen in the stable of the Police.

These are some of the questions Mr. Celestine Msunwi Dickson tries to provide answers to in his book. “Media Reports And Police Image In Re­branding Nigeria”.

 The eight-chapter book is more or less an image laundering effort for the Nigeria Police in particular and Nigeria in general. It tries to key into the Re­branding Nigeria Project being championed by the Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, all in an attempt to correct some of the negative impressions created around the Nigeria Police, as well as assisting the Nigerian public to form the right attitude and mindset about Nigeria.

The book tries to rationalize the inefficiencies of the Nigeria Police to combat crimes and maintain law and order. It also tries to absolve the men and women in Police uniform of the acts of criminality that pervade the Nigerian society.

According to the author, The recruits are poorly trained because the training facilities are grossly inadequate for such a large number of recruits (Page 53).

He continues his justifications on page 55 by referring to a statement credited to the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasie that ……. anytime a citizen becomes a public figure, his first official correspondence on assuming duty is to write the Inspector General of Police to ask for an orderly and Policemen to guard his house … Everybody wants to use the Police as a status symbol, yet the members of the organization remain without accommodation, adequate remuneration, tools to work with, transport to patrol, effective communication and intelligence outfit to support their operation.

As a man who has a stake in the Nigeria Police, these justifications are not unexpected from the author. He, however, concedes that a significant number of Policemen have lost their morale compass due to corrupt practices and utter depravity of humanity.

Nevertheless, the author argues, although without enough justifications, that the negative image being suffered by the Police was as a result of misinformation and misrepresentation by the mass media.

It is pertinent to say at this juncture that there is no institution without its own ugly side. Only the degree and depth of depravity and rot differs. Just as the Police enigma continues to haunt and assail the nation, so does the recklessness of some people in the media industry continue to give the media profession a bad name. But in spite of this ugly side, the Nigeria Press remains the most vibrant in Africa in terms of informing, educating and entertaining the public, as well as in its watchdog role; just as the Nigerian Police remain one of the highly, respected forces by the United Nations. That Nigeria is enjoying democracy today is to the credit of both the Nigerian Press and the Police.

It is in view of this that I find it subjective and offensive the author’s conclusion on page 56 that the journalism industry in Nigeria is now left in the hands of quacks who habour hatred and bitterness for the Police and whose mission is to misinform, misrepresent and mislead the public, just because the media tries to perform its watchdog role over the Police and in the process exposes some of the dirty linens of the men and women in Police uniform.

Is the Nigeria Media also responsible for illegal check-points mounted by the Policemen across the country to extort money from the public? This is the question we should ask ourselves.

Nonetheless, the author demonstrates rare courage and patriotic zeal in handling his diagnosis of what I will call Nigeria’s unenviable image. He recognizes the might of the pen and argues brilliantly that the Nigerian media holds the key to the success of the Re-branding Nigeria Project. He therefore charged the mass media practitioners to focus more on the good sides of the Nigerian society.

But while it is right to assert that the Nigerian media should begin to temper national foibles and, idiosyncrasies with something noble and inspirational, the Nigerian society, especially the Police should also live above board and should not abuse the power of the gun or see themselves as the instruments of oppression, coercion, repression, intimidation and exploitation, even in the face of provocation.

We will be playing to the gallery if we see the mass media as an image laundering agent or as a mere tool in the hands of government and the powers-that-be. For clarification purposes, the mass media, besides its primary assignment of informing, educating and entertaining the audience, has the onerous responsibility of holding government and the governed accountable.

And as the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the Press is not expected to grovel under the feet of the government. And I doubt if the intention of the Akunyili’s Re-branding Nigeria Project is to consign the truth in the garbage of lies or to make Nigerian Press look like a carrot in the hands of government. This is where the real challenges lie in ambush for Dickson’s book.

Again, the book would have been more interesting and challenging if the author had focused only on the theme of the book which borders on media reports and Police image. Nevertheless, the 160 – page book, in spite of its literary deficiencies, unnecessary comments and zigzagged analyses that are often associated with budding writers, leaves the readers with the assignment of exploring and discovering some facts about the Nigerian Police, the mass media and Nigeria at large. The challenges are now yours.

This review was  presented by Mr. Boye Salau at the presentation /launching of a book “Media Reports and Police Image In Re-Branding Nigeria” held at the Love Garden, Rivers State University Of Science And Technology, Port Harcourt on Friday, December 3, 2010

Boye Salau

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Controversy Over Possession Of Benin Looted Bronzes

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Meanwhile, the Federal government of Nigeria says it will take possession of the 1,130 Benin artifacts to be returned by ceremony it is its duty by law to do so. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this, Saturday July 17, 2021 at a news conference held in Lagos. This statement generated controversy between the federal government.
The minister said, “the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Movements have always involved both the Edo State Government and the Benin Royal Palace in discussions and negotiations that have now resulted in the impending return of these artifacts.
Lai Mohammed said that in line with the international best practice and the operative conventions and laws, the return of the artifacts is being negotiated between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Germany “Nigeria is the entity recognised by international laws, is the authority in control of antiquities originating from Nigerian the relevant international conventions treat heritage properties belong to the nation and not to individuals or subnational groups he said.
Mohammed disclosed that the federal government would not limit the battle to repatriating Ife Bronzes and Terracotta, Nok Tenacotta, Owo Terracotta, and the arts Benue Rivers Valley, the Ukwu, the arts of Bida, the arts of Igala, Jukun amongst others.
He assured that the repatriation the Benin objects are unconditional and would not be staggered on the definit time line for the return of the artifacts, the minister said: “We agreed to have a definite timeline for the repatriation of the artifacts because Nigeria is tired of an inefinite timeline. Therefore, we resolve that the agreement on the repatriation should be singed in December, 2021 and the repatriation should be concluded by August 2022.
Reacting, the Benin Monarch, Oba I Ewuare II called on the federal government to take custody of the objects pending on when the Royal Benin Museum being by the palace is ready. But the Edo Governor, Godwill Obaseki, should preference for a private trust to take custody and managed the artifacts.
However, Dr Washington Osa Osifo in an article on the controversy over the possession of the artifacts, titled “Berlin artifacts remind us of who we are, they fell more stories about our civilization than any attempt at intellectual historical reconstruction. They are indeed, active components of our present. We speak to the artefacts and they speak to us in mutually decodable idioms.
This underscores the imperative of returning the looted Benin artefacts to the owners because we find in them, the essence of over being and the concrete validation of our civilization for beyond aesthetics.

By: Jacob Obinna

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How Mathematics Helps Adolescents  Grow

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Lack of maths education negatively affects adolescent brain and cognitive development.
A new study suggests that not having any maths education after the age of 16 can be disadvantageous.
Adolescents, who stopped studying maths have showed a reduction in a critical brain chemical for brain development. This reduction in brain chemical was found in a key brain area that supports maths, memory, learning, reasoning and problem solving.
Subsequently, adolescents who stopped studying maths exhibited greater disadvantage compared with peers who continued studying maths in terms of brain and cognitive development.
133 students between the ages of 14-18 took part in an experiment run by researchers from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Unlike the majority of countries worldwide, in the UK 16-year-old students can decide to stop their maths education. This situation allowed the team to examine whether this specific lack of maths education in students coming from a similar environment could impact brain development and cognition.
The study found that students who didn’t study maths had a lower amount of a crucial chemical for brain plasticity (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in a key brain region involved in many important cognitive functions, including reasoning, problem solving, maths, memory and learning. Based on the amount of brain chemical found in each student, researchers were able to discriminate between adolescents who studied or did not study maths, independent of their cognitive abilities. Moreover, the amount of this brain chemical successfully predicted changes in mathematical attainment score around 19 months later. Notably, the researchers did not find differences in the brain chemical before the adolescents stopped studying maths.
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, Roi Cohen Kadosh, led the study. He said: “Maths skills are associated with a range of benefits, including employment, socioeconomic status, and mental and physical health. Adolescence is an important period in life that is associated with important brain and cognitive changes. Sadly, the opportunity to stop studying maths at this age seems to lead to a gap between adolescents who stop their maths education compared to those who continue it. “Our study provides a new level of biological understanding of the impact of education on the developing brain and the mutual effect between biology and education.
“It is not yet known how this disparity, or its long-term implications, can be prevented. Not every adolescent enjoys maths so we need to investigate possible alternatives, such as training in logic and reasoning that engage the same brain area as maths.”
Professor Cohen Kadosh added, “While we started this line of research before COVID-19, I also wonder how the reduced access to education in general, and maths in particular (or lack of it due to the pandemic) impacts the brain and cognitive development of children and adolescents. While we are still unaware of the long-term influence of this interruption, our study provides an important understanding of how a lack of a single component in education, maths, can impact brain and behaviour.”

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UNICEF Moves To Halt Attacks Against Children

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Action must be taken now to halt alarming attacks against children and abductions – including of students – in parts of West and Central Africa, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund,  UNICEF, said in a statement on Wednesday. 
The agency’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said these incidents appear to be increasing in frequency, raising fears for the safety and wellbeing of children in the region. 
It is not enough to condemn these crimes, not when millions of children face a worsening protection crisis.
Children in these areas need concerted action to ensure that they can safely live, go to school or fetch water without fear of being attacked or taken from their families.
Her statement follows the kidnapping of some 140 students from a boarding school in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Monday. 
Fears of more violence 
“We are deeply concerned that as in years past, non-State armed groups and parties to conflict in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Niger and Nigeria will ramp up these violent activities over the coming weeks ahead of the rainy season when their movements could be restricted by flooding,” she said. 
“Every effort must be made to reverse the spiralling protection crisis for children as the region is on the brink of catastrophe.”  
Ms Fore reported that in Burkina Faso, attacks against civilians, as well as other violations of international humanitarian law have “spiked significantly” in recent weeks. 
At least 130 people were killed on Monday in an assault on a village in Yagha Province, which she said was the single deadliest attack in the country since violence broke out in 2015.   
Additionally, 178 civilians there, including children, have been killed so far this month, while violence has displaced upwards of 1.2 million people, a ten-fold increase over three years. 
Condemnation not enough 
The UNICEF chief listed more examples of attacks, abductions and other violations affecting children that have occurred in other countries in the region in recent months. 
Ms Fore stressed that it was not enough to just condemn these crimes, but to take concerted action so that children can live in safety. 
“This starts with non-State armed groups and all parties to conflict who are committing violations of children’s rights – they have a moral and legal obligation to immediately cease attacks against civilians, and to respect and protect civilians and civilian objects during any military operations,” she said.  
“They should also not impede but facilitate the efforts of UNICEF and other humanitarian actors on the ground working to reach vulnerable children.”  
The international community also has an important role to play, she added, including by increasing donor contributions to humanitarian organisations so that they can expand their work to reduce children’s vulnerabilities and keep them safe.  
These operations include creating safe temporary learning environments in areas where schools have closed due to insecurity, providing psychosocial support to children affected by violence, and supporting education on mine risk awareness.

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