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Scapegoating the media in Aso Rock

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Image:Aso Rock

President Goodluck Jonathan was in a battle mood in the chambers of Aso Villa last week when he administered another oath to members of his executive, commiting them to shape up and deliver quality service or be shipped out.

The President further committed them to what he called  “Performance Contract Agreement.” The desire of the President to ensure that ordinary Nigerians feel the impact of his government was unmistakable and totally understandable. The mantra on “good governance” has lost its meaning or have at best become a gibberish often uttered by government officials

But most importantly was Mr. President’s displeasure  with the mass media and its owners,  who he claimed have become partisan and captive to the rich and powerful in the society at the expense of ordinary Nigerians who require information on the achievement of his administration.

As far as the President was concerned, the information that comes out of the Nigerian media is patently lopsided and jaundiced, to the extent that the majority of Nigerians, particularly the poor have have been denied access to unbiased information..

While we share some of the concerns raised by President Goodluck Jonathan  in his speech, we believe that the media has a crucial and critical role to play both as the fourth estate of the realm and as an institution that is globally recognised as the watchdog that monitors and reports what it sees and what is presented to it.

Politicians have long recognised the influence and power of the media in moulding public opinion and galvanising social and political actions in the society and these roles are not about to change now or in the near future.

Regardless of how the those in government feel about the press, the truth remains that the media has always taken side with the oppressed and the deprived.

Even when some media owners belong to the wealthy segment of society and fraternise with political actors, those who decide the editorial content are usually those who feel the pulse of the downtrodden. Media managers are largely influenced by what the man on the street  wants to read, especially the misdeeds of those in public offices, the misdemeanor of high and mighty.

The media celebrates the unethical conducts of leaders in public and private places, without regard to political and centric divides. The media also does not close its eyes to reporting concrete accomplishments of elected public officers. But it cannot report non event or glaring under performance.

In directing his anger at the mass media, the nation’s number one citizen is following the tradition set by other politicians before him whose stock in trade was attacking the straw man.

What is clear before us, however, is the fact that ministers have under performed and that has collectively affected public perception of governance at the federal and other levels of government. This manifests clearly when they brief Nigerians after each FEC meetings, there is nothing for the citizens to take away. There is also a complete failure on the part of those who manage government information. It is easy to make the media the scapegoat, but the truth remains that the media has a duty to  monitor and report the activities of people in government, the constitution recognises this role and the society expects the media to maintain that delicate checks and balance in governance and it must not be cowed.

The advent of social media has denied the traditional media of its monopoly to inform, educate and entertain the society. The President has his facebook, he can use Twitter and could connect with Nigerians at home and any part of the world on his programmes. He has access to powerful electronic media which have hosted his presidential chats, it is absolutely surprising to think that at this stage of our democratic evolution, only one voice should be heard.

Article Credit:Vanguard News 

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Updated 6 Years ago

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