Talks About The Nigerian Media
I grew up with The cackle from my Mum’s little black transistor‘Akai’ Radio, resonating in my ears. That Radio was memorable in so many ways—it was our window into The world. Plus, I still recall with nostalgia The signature tune of The BBC and VOA Stations as there were rendered on that black Radio in The early hours of The morning; with that ‘shrill’ sound associated with The Short Wave(AM) transmission system.
Most of The time, Mum will adjust and lean The antenna towards The direction of each of The cardinal points before we could make out The presenter’s voice. At The time, I regarded Mum a genius and her Radio, a 20th century miracle. It was all we had.
One night, The entire neighbourhood gathered around mum’s radio in The verandah just in time to hear General Sanni Abachadeclare in that thick Hausa accent: “All Political parties are hereby dissolved……The Interim National Government is hereby dissolved……” It was also thanks to Mum’s Radio that I first learned The phrase; ‘step aside’, as infamously deployed by General Ibrahim Babangida.
In rural Cross River State where I grew up at The time, our little Radio could only access The signals from two Nigerian Stateowned FM Radio Stations—those from Enugu and Abia States. In my little world at The time, these were The only States whomattered in Nigeria. Every hour, we were kept abreast of what The Governors of Abia and Enugu States were up to.
So, if Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo or Ogbonnaya Onu (Governors of Enugu and Abia States respectively at The time) farted, Mum’s Radio was there to relay that force of nature to us. If The wives of The Governors were wearing make ups in their bedrooms, Mum’s little radio will announce The beauty routines with glee. The producers considered these news items ‘Breaking News’ materials. I remember as I write this, The signature tune of theAbia State Radio: ‘Abia God’s own state ‘Unuanugo’…..Cleanliness is next to Godliness……..’ Classic!
The sad part is that, very little has changed. There are now more FM Radio Stations than there were in 1993, but away from Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, these Radio Stations are still puppet masters of The State Governments. Only 43 million Nigerians (out of a population of over 160 million people), haveaccess to The internet, which translates to The fact that over 95 per cent of Nigerians have no access to The informationsuperhighway. Most State owned Newspaper houses have since gone under owing to poor management. Only few national Dailies get their Newspapers to reach The rural areas.
In my part of Cross River State, rural folks have to make do with reading only The Punch, Vanguard and The Nation Newspapers. And even for these aforementioned Dailies, only a handful of copies are handed to rural vendors( if you arrive late at The vendor stand, you may have to beg The gentleman who picked The last copy to let you go through The day’s headlines before he scurries away). The Guardian and ThisDay Newspapers get tomost State capitals a day after Lagos and Abuja folks are looking out for The next newsworthy item in The Nigerianlandscape.
The Nigerian mainstream Media (electronic and print) still represent The only sources of information for more than 90 percent of The population-- most of them in rural Nigeria. What this means is that The burden on The mainstream Media to report The news, analyze events and The Editorial bent of The Newspapers, has never been greater. There is still a feeling in certain quarters that most Newspaper Establishments are stooges of The Government of The day. Newspaper Editorials are losing their punch and most Television Stations have long gone soft around The edges. A few Newspaper Reporters have confided in me that Editors tweak The reports they send in; watering them down until they are rendered pointless, before they are published.
It was little wonder then, that in The heat of The ‘Occupy’ Movements in most cities last January, some folks in rural Nigeria who had no access to The Internet didn’t understandwhat The fuss was all about. In The East of Nigeria, The protests were largely unsuccessful because The denizens of those States had to rely on Government owned Radio and Television Stations for The News. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), still has The widest reach in terms of rural penetration--a sad development for anyone who understands what The NTA represents in our polity.
The Nigerian mainstream Media has to take The flak for not reporting widely, The multiple cases of electoral malpractices and voter apathy on polling days. State correspondents often have their palms greased now and again to do their paymasters’ bidding. Reporters make their way out of press conferences clutching brown envelopes—as rewards for painting black into white in The OP-ED pages. There abound poverty in The land and salaries of newsmen and women are at best abysmal. So,Reporters do appear hamstrung and are left with little choices but to make do with selling their consciences to report anything but The News.
The new Media (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc) represents The last hope for The common man in a posh office in Lagos, Abuja,Port Harcourt, Kano or Kaduna. But in most rural parts of Nigeria where most folks have never heard of The word:‘facebook’, and where Cable TV remains unaffordable and little Radio sets still loom larger than life; The Nigerian Mainstream Media has to do more in terms of enlightening The people About their basic rights in a Democracy.
Thus far, The fourth Estate of The realm appears to have abdicated its primary responsibility.
Talks About The Nigerian Media
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