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Is Nigerian Press The Police Scourge?

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Book Review

TITLE:            Media Reports And  Police Image In Re-branding Nigeria

AUTHOR:      Celestine Msunwi Dickson

PUBLISHER: Pearl Publishers, Port Harcourt.

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 biro and paper 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  “Media Reports and Police Image in Re-branding Nigeria” tried to offer his audience.

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 Nigerian 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 Nigerian 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 Nigerian Police as one of the worst harbingers of corrupt practices. The image of the Nigerian 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 Nigerian Police become object of ridicule? Are mass media reports and several other reports by the anti-corruption agencies about the Nigerian 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.

The eight-chapter book is more or less an image laundering effort for the Nigerian Police in particular and Nigeria in general. It tries to key into the Re­branding Nigeria Project being championed by the former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, all in an attempt to correct some of the negative impressions created around the Nigerian 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 Nigerian 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 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 organisation 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 Nigerian 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 continues to give the media profession a bad name. But in spite of this ugly side, the Nigerian 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 defensive 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 expose some of the dirty linen 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.

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 public, 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.

Boye Salau

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Arts/Literary

Last Laugh

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Title:                 Beyond Expectations

Author:             Reward Akwu

Publisher:          Ollybell Printing Resources, Port Harcourt

Pages:             136

Reviewer:         Boye Salau

 

Whatever instigated Reward Akwu to engage in literary prose writing cannot, with the extreme form of clarity, be dismissed as inconsequential. Like every other journalists, Akwu is one man whose profession and the hurricane of economic survival in Nigeria would hardly permit to venture into a literary expedition.

What then is the driving force? Could it be his personal childhood experience, or the chequered experience of someone dear to him? Certainly, it could not have been his own memorabilia. The author of Beyond Expectation is still one of millions of Nigerians yearning for better life. Otherwise, he would not have remained in the hollow of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation as a Chief Correspondent till now.

Whatever the reasons are, one is not in doubt that the various chequered experiences of life’s discomfiting paradoxes are the afflatus that make the zephr of history a reality.

In a country where many people are not sure of the next meal, Beyond Expectations clearly captures the reality of hailing from poor background.

The book is somewhat nostalgic about the fate of an average Nigerian man in the village and relieves the heart of the common man with the age long cliché: when there is life, there is hope.

The theme of the book can be located in the fortune of many people who rose from the creek and bottomless pit of life to stardom. The Abiolas, Jonathans, Amaechis fall in this category.

Written in simple narrative form with sublime simplicity, devoid of nebulous words and oratorical fancy, the 136 page novel thematises the pains and hopelessness of a brilliant secondary school boy whose intoxicating puissance and gluttonous appetite for sexual love with his classmate and child of an unforgiving gladiator with huge lubris, became his albatross. It is equivalent of the story of Adam who was sent out of the Garden of Eden for his inability to resist the apple in Eve.

How Chinedu came out of his quandary is what readers of Beyond Expectations should find out themselves.

As expected of a book that has its anthropology in local setting, communal love, family and filial affection are persuasive in this literary enterprise. The author proves that in a society where family bond is in short supply and where the only thing the rich harbours for the poor is hatred, the milk of kindness still flows in some peoples’ vein.

At the same time, the book inveighs the age – long conundrum of ersatz social class and unintentionally illustrates the yawning hiatus that exists between the Teflon rulers and the hoipolloi.

Akwu’s good understanding of the village life and his ability to capture the life and time of the ordinary people in graphic details further enriches the delivery of the book. Though sometimes too elaborate in details, the author succeeds in sending his message to the readers by employing simple diction and local parlance where necessary.

Unlike many books that are often built on hyperbole and far-fetched imagery, Beyond Expectations is convincingly obsessed with imageries that are deeply affecting and the realities of life that are both alluring and perplexing. By my assessment, the book is a fascinating nugget that addresses itself to all classes, age and gender.

Very well as the author tries to make the book flow from page to page, the book could not resist the temptation of unnecessary details, repetition and avoidable typographical errors.

Again, the book is most deficient, or better still not sufficient in suspense. A better application of literary suspense with regards to what befall Chinedu at last would have made the book more intriguing and interesting.

These few ‘slips of the pen’ can, however, be excused being Reward’s first literary expedition in the world of literature.

Without obsessive sense of sheer criticism, Beyond Expectations lives up to its name. It is sufficient for what it is meant to achieve, namely to fortify the forlorn hope, to encourage the poor not to be deterred by their poor background, while at the same time reminding the rich that no condition is permanent in life.

And until one reads the book from page to page, and from chapter to chapter, one may not be able to appreciate well the intrigue and metaphor of this heart-throbbing reality woven as fiction.

 

Boye Salau

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Arts/Literary

The Uncommon Truth

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Contrary to what you think or what you have been told, you are wiser, better and smarter than what you think you are. You are more powerful than you may ever imagine. Inside you dwells the very power, wisdom or intelligence that controls this very world. Thus, the answer to all your problems and challenges is, and always will be within you. It’s in you! In reality, you can never be helpless in this world, and the reason is very simple: “The help is in you,  the only true and lasting help.”

We live in a world where people offer us advice, even before we ask for it. There is nothing wrong with that, but the only problem is that most people are failures, and without direction.  They are still trying to figure out how to get their own lives together.  How can they tell you how to fish when  they don’t even know the path to the river? What does that tell you? Be careful whose advice you act upon. The good news, though, is that all the wisdom and direction you need in life is within you. Success, greatness, wealth and happiness are not found outside you, they are resident in you. The day you become conscious of that truth will mark the beginning of your freedom, for then you will be free from the manipulation of others. Therefore, I wish that you may come to that point in your life where you know beyond doubt that your wealth and riches are not in the hands of any person, company or organisation, but in you. When that consciousness is established in you, then shall you come to terms with this powerful truth: “There is no future in any job, the future is in you; there is no future in any country,  the future lies in you”  That which you seek “without,” can only be found “within.”

The only secret capable of freeing you from the manipulation of others, and the frustration caused by adverse circumstances lies within you.

You were created to be self-reliant, and to decide your own destiny. Embrace that truth. Never let anyone control or manipulate your destiny. You must believe in yourself, trust yourself, think for yourself and act for yourself. Remember, no one can ever let you down or frustrate you if you are not leaning on them. No one can control your life selfishly if you are not seeking for their approval, and you are not intimidated by their disapproval. And no one can hurt your feeling, make you feel angry or disappointed if you are not depending on them for your help, success and satisfaction.

Self-reliance is a necessity should you desire to live a happy and successful life. But self-reliance is only possible when you become conscious of the fact that everything you need for your success and happiness is within you.

Nwibeke, an inspirational writer lives in Port Harcourt.

 

ThankGod Nwibeke

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Arts/Literary

BOOK REVIEW

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Title:                TRAILING NEW TRACKS,

Author:                        JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:

Publisher:        HELPMATE CONSULT LIMITED, 2011.

No of Pages    48pp

Reviewer:        TELLE DANDESON AYASUK

AFRICAN CENTRE FOR EDUCATION                                       AND DEVELOPMENT, PORT HARCOURT

Writing in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown stated that “men. go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they deserve”. Probably driven by similar opinion, Juliet Minimah has confronted the age-long limitations that generations of potentially great men and women have placed on themselves dying unsung with loads of untapped mental, physical and even spiritual resources. Lots of work has been done in books, journals, documentaries, public lectures, seminars, media events, movies, music, etc to motivate people to achieve by giving expression to their God-given talents and abilities. Yet far too little success has been recorded as many still pine away with inconceivable endowments.

Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of work aimed at reawakening millions of people world-wide, who have lost the confidence in brining their natural endowments to fruition. It is a call to action in which the author challenges everyone in this situation to “break new grounds, chart new frontiers and see yourself as a trail blazer”. Juliet Minimah sees this as one certain way to address “the various social, economic and political ills that confront the world today”.

Theme

In Trailing New Tracks, the author explores the theme of Regeneration and Attainment Through Conscious Effort. She sees hope in a world hampered by crises of all kinds, shapes and magnitudes. She attempts to re-engineer attitude through uprightness, conscious effort and the exercise of self-will. In her views, “the adversities of life teach us more lessons than the prosperities of life”.

Philosophy

Minimah attempts, in this work, to communicate with her audience through an elevated art form. The sub genre of philosophy is by no means the easiest way to communicate any message. Credit must be given to this author for her boldness, audacity and fearlessness.

Language

The author employs simple, persuasive and concise language to motivate with ease. She uses the first-person point of view to break down barriers between her and her audience. Mention  must be made of the rich use of biblical allusion.

Audience

Minimah obviously writes to a youthful audience but recommends (in chapter 7) the same sense of activity and attainment to every age. Also, she writes to a universal audience.

Summary

Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of art written in a forty-eight page volume in which the author attempts to inspire action towards achievement in a world where confidence and determination are almost completely eroded. The work may be divided into three main parts.

Chapters 1 to 5 persuade the reader to develop a good mind-set devoid of greed and selfishness. The fifth chapter attempts to inspire confidence.

The next two chapters inspire the reader to dream big and be visionary. They emphasize the importance of good company in the realization of good dreams and visions.

In the last twelve chapters, the author canvasses action through uprightness and focus. She warns against the evil of procrastination and fear. She urges the reader to set a pattern for himself and society, take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and get some extra knowledge and information. She charges the reader to rise above limitations, find hope and the will to achieve and be a problem-solver, a Trail Blazer.

Like every other work of art, there are a few weaknesses which this reviewer must not fail to point out in this work. For space and time, we shall take just three of them.

For a philosophical work, Trailing New Tracks is rather too small in volume and lacks the depth to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other philosophical works in world -class libraries in Nigeria and universally.

It is the view of this reviewer that the author should have localized her audience and injected aspects of our cultural, social and philosophical ethos which would have made this work more relevant to the African, or indeed, Nigerian reader.

This reviewer also identifies a few grammatical and semantic inconsistencies which could be attributed to the now-popular (printer’s devil.” Particularly, the expression: “Trail New Blaze” (in the introduction) should actually read “Blaze New Trail(s)” (brackets mine) as obtained in the first paragraph of chapter 18.

Conclusion

Juliet Minimah’s Trailing New Tracks is without doubt a great attempt by a young African woman at reaching out to young people and even the older ones to dig deep into their mind and realize the potential hidden there. She challenges them using achievers like Barrack Obama of the United States of America, the first black president of the world’s most powerful nation, and even our own Pat Utomi, who became Presidential Adviser at twenty -seven years of age, to inspire this and other generations to rise to their talents and make new and amazing contributions to their society.

To the extent that Minimah has effectively communicated to her audience, inspiring every reader, irrespective of age and class, I consider Trailing New Tracks as a monumental success and recommend it as a must-read for everyone who aspires for unparalleled greatness.

 

Title:    ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER

Author:            JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:

Publisher:        SUNNY ALADE PRINTING PRODUCTION

No of Pages    46pp

Reviewer:        THANKGOD EMEKA EGBUCHU (JP)

PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT REGISTRAR,

RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE

& TECHNOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

May I inform the esteem audience here today, that I am here to appraise the monumental work done by Miss Minimah Ishmeal Juliet, titled “Ordeals of A baby Mother”.

As we all are aware and I know that Minimah Ishmeal Juliet hails from the Ancient City of Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State. Born in the family of Mr. & Mrs. Ishmeal Minimah. Being the first and only female daughter of six children of the parents, graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political and Administrative Studies.

As a template to all her growing contemporaries of  the  female folk in Nigeria, Minimah Juliet, had additional colour on her academic pursuit by possessing a Diploma in law from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science and a proficiency certificate in management from the Nigerian Institute of Management.

Miss Minimah Juliet seem little but mighty and mature intellectually in the field of academic spectrum.

In her book, “Ordeals of a Baby Mother” chapters I to 5 deals with convincing themes, which delved into “Who is a baby mother, Is motherhood a curse, why rejection and ageing forcefully rather than gracefully”, serves as an eye opener which creates awareness needed by mothers and baby mothers across the country over motherhood.

Similarly, chapter six to the last, deals with implications of early motherhood, More advantages for unequal opportunities, Refuse to be a school dropout, Being a baby mother turns you into one true life stories and a word of note, serves to show positive measures a baby mother should take to avoid being victim of the circumstance.

DICTION

Minimah Ishmeal Juliet was very careful in choosing her words to convey the intended action in the book which all levels of individuals can understand easily to read.

The sequence of the chapters flows naturally to the sense of would-be readers of the book. This has demonstrated maturity of articulation of words by the author.

However, we must expect as a matter of fact that the production of this book may experience minor errors, which she accept entirely all the faults to herself but form the basis for her further encouragement to produce the best in her life.

Lastly, in my opinion, the book, “ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER” has served the purpose for what it was addressed.

I strongly recommend the book to all ages of womanhood to read,  especially students in secondary schools and higher institutions across the country.

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