Connect with us


Hold us accountable, be part of Nation building – Bauchi gov, Muhammed tasks media



Sharing buttons

The Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Muhammad, has charged the media to hold public officers accountable to their promises and be part of the tasks of nation-building.

Mohammad gave the task on Thursday, at the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, 2ND Edition of Annual Milestone Recognition of Media Icons in Nigeria to 17 awardees, held at Airport Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos.

Former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, was the father of the the day, while, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Malagi, was the chairman on the ocassion.

The awardees include Prince Henry Odukomaiya, Ray Ekpu, Sir Folu Olamiti, Mallam Baba Dantiye, Dr. Danladi Bako, Mrs. Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo, Mr. Lade Bunuola, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, Prof. Chineyere Okunna (the first female professor of Mass Communications in West Africa), Chief Emeka Izeze, Prof. Femi Adefela, Mr. Tony Akiotu, Mrs Agbeke Ogunsanwo, Mallam Baba Dantiye, Aremo Taiwo Alimi, Alhaji Najeem Jimoh among others.

Mohammad, a recipient, represented by Muhammed Bulama, who is also the Secretary of the State Government, SSG, gave the charge in his keynote address, with the theme: “The place of Icons and Role Models in National development: The NUJ Milestone Awards in perspective.”

According to him, “But three related factors forced a rethink on me. Firstly, unknown to many, I started my working life as a journalist. But I hold it against no one that I do not have the first name recognition of Nnamdi Azikiwe or Bisi Onabanjo (Aiyekoto) or Sa’ad Zungur or Bob Ogbuagu, or Lateef Jakande or Adamu Ciroma, or Clement Ebri or our own dear Segun Osoba who, prior to the outstanding contributions they were to later make in the sphere of political administration, had acquired national recognition as highly successful journalists.I did not rise to that level.

“Not everyone gets the privilege of being honoured by a professional body. When that recognition is capped with a request to also give the keynote address at the occasion, that should be considered a rare privilege and great honour.

“As you would expect, the dominant concern of most political administrators in today’s Nigeria is the governance challenges confronting us: issues of the cost of living, security, out-of-school children, employment of our teeming youth, national cohesion, the and the recurring challenge of democratic succession in a system that prioritizes highly divisive primordial sentiments over the excruciating poverty that neither recognizes nor respects those primordial sentiments.

“At the beginning, I had admitted that we need a national conversation on the country’s electoral process if for no other reasons, to reduce the disputations that attend each election and enhance the integrity of the outcome without recourse to the acrimonious litigations that threaten every institution of the state.

“But that is just one point in the meshwork of values that beg for remediation. Others include the feeling of exclusion by many groups, lack of consensus on the minimal goals that every government, regardless of the party in power at the centre should zealously propagate, pursue and protect; access to minimum educational standards by all no matter the person’s background; combating corruption that is fast assuming the status of a national credo, guarantee of equal opportunities to all job seekers; mitigation of self-serving partisanship that fuels division, political violence and exacerbates societal divisions.

“Above all, how do we forge a union out of the disparate interests and cleavages that presently define our existence as a nation? These, and more constitute the challenges that the media must confront.

“If you asked the typical Nigerian politician, the response would be that the issues are being discussed. Nobody dispute that. For instance, the National Assembly has been in the process of amending the Constitution for quite some time. But the question is, to what effect? With all due respect, it will seem to me that we are running on the same spot, so much motion without any significant movement.

“The truth is that we live in a very volatile era, a period that can no longer afford the luxury of a piecemeal approach to resolving the deep-seated contradictions that bedevil our society.

“And let us not make any mistakes about it: this situation has been long in coming and I will be reluctant to look for scapegoats.

“When a country is faced with the magnitude of our dilemma, hardly can it make much headway without a robust nationalist media driven by the patriotic zeal to hold public office holders accountable, to present all the likely scenarios and their implications, to galvanize the citizenry for the patriotic actions and to restore hope to the populace.

“That is the role of the media.

Thomas Jefferson, U.S. diplomat, president and statesman put the indispensable role of the media in perspective when he said and I quote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

“To paraphrase him, Jeferson was saying that the media is the last hope of the common man!. Thus, as the NUJ rolls out the red carpet for its distinguished members whose accomplishments have left milestones in the profession and the nation at large, the Nigerian media is being called upon, to reflect on the present state of the country and its role as a transformational agent.

“Is it playing that role satisfactorily presently? If not, how do we chart a course that shakes off inertia, incentivizes the media and refocuses its mindset?

“Luckily for the media, its watchdog role has been firmly entrenched in Chapter 2 Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria and I quote: “The Press, Radio, Television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

“This constitutional role has been further enhanced by the Freedom of Information Act that came into being on May 28, 2011 when former President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the long-drawn Freedom of Information Bill.

Thus, armed with this great power, it is not surprising that the media has become bolder, more aggressive and confident as an agent of social remediation.

“That gives us hope that despite the audacity of unpatriotic elements or the occasional high-handedness of people, Nigeria will be spared the misfortune of the emergence of dictatorship.

“My confidence is emboldened by the fact that we have a media-friendly President, one who was in the trenches as a pro-democracy activist and whose exploits were beamed to the world to see.

“While we recognize the commendable role of the media, let us also not fail to reflect on the other side of the coin, the tendency for some sections of the media to wield the enormous powers at its disposal with reckless abandon; to hold people to ransom.

He commended the leadership of the NUJ, led by Chris Isiguzo and the organizers of the Media Milestone Awards, for considering him fit to play the double-barreled roles assigned to him at this occasion.

“However, though it did not take long for me to migrate from journalism to the federal civil service, I am proud to say that my overall attitude to work and my perception of a united Nigeria both stem from the work ethic and invaluable social network that I acquired in those formative years as a journalist.

“Moreover, I have remained in touch with the profession, thanks to my good friend and brother, Emma Agu with whom I started my journalism career with The Mirage Newspaper in Jos, Plateau State 40 years ago.

“I was delighted when he was among the set to be honoured with the milestone award last year.

“Another strong reason for accepting the invite is the opportunity it provides to join in honouring some of the professional icons, those titans of the industry whose enduring contributions not only constitute an integral part of my universe but continue to define the core values that the media in Nigeria must reenact if, indeed, we are keen on restoring and retaining professional recognition, relevance, and respect.

“Thirdly, I cherish my membership of the NUJ and would not, for the price of anything, conduct myself in a manner that could precipitate, let alone justify the withdrawal of my membership of the union.

“So, to our President, Chris Isiguzo, here is Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, your loyal and proud member, reporting for duty. Let me say that it was quite magnanimous of the organizers to have given me the latitude to choose a topic outside what I was requested to speak on.

“Mr. Chairman, it might interest you to know that I was asked to speak on Rebuilding Trust and Confidence in Nigeria’s Post/Election Processes but with the caveat that I could opt for “any other topic of your choice”. I promptly went for the option of “any other topic”! I am sure it is not difficult to understand my reluctance to address the electoral issue at this point.

“For one, given that the courts are yet to dispose of all the electoral cases, it will be remiss of me to plunge into that controversial terrain more so when I cannot say with any certainty that the last word has been heard about my case.

“In spite of that, I wish to acknowledge that we cannot run away from a dispassionate interrogation of not just our electoral process but the very foundation of our national existence. To do so would amount to playing the ostrich or, as we were told, like Nero fiddling while Rome burnt.

“And the media, as the fourth estate of the realm, is in a position to spearhead these discussions. I shall be willing to join the conversation at that point.

“In this, the NUJ could unwittingly be establishing a template for honouring people, and by so doing minimizing the embarrassment that often trails hasty and unvetted awards to undeserving beneficiaries.

“I am sure many of us will recall the touching statement by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua who, responding to the national honours conferred on him at his inauguration, stated that it would have been more appropriate to reserve the award for the end of his tenure if only to ascertain that he actually deserved it. With the benefit of hindsight, I am sure that many will agree that Yar’Ardua’ has been proven right on several occasions.

A cursory look at the list reveals a common strand: it is populated predominantly by professionals who have paid their dues over a long period, media icons of impeccable credentials and who have sired many equally accomplished colleagues who could, to think of it, also qualify for the milestone awards.

“My approach is to examine the role of the media historically to propose what, in my view, should constitute a trajectory for producing more milestone award winners.

“Whether one considers it from a historical perspective, or as an agent of socio-economic development, what cannot be denied is that the Nigerian media has played a very important catalytic role in the evolution of the Nigerian nation-state.

“History books are replete with the gallant roles of the nationalist press in advancing the agitation for independence from colonial rule. Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ikoli, Sa’ad Zungur, Mokwugo Okoye, MCK Ajuluchukwu and others deployed the pen as they agitated for independence from colonial rule.

“For his uncompromising exploits, Bob Ogbuagu, Publisher of the defunct Northern Advocate, then based in Jos, was jailed in 1955 along with other members of the Zikist Movement.

“Many people here will recall how, not too long ago, precisely in the seventies, eighties and nineties, the vibrant Nigerian media rose to its historical role by joining the struggle for the restoration of democracy.

“I can say with every sense of pride and without equivocation that, but for the stoic resistance of those journalists, some of whom faced various forms of persecution including imprisonment, it is doubtful if Nigeria would have emerged from the dictatorship of the era to the relative liberty that the citizens now enjoy.

“In emphasizing the commendable role the media has historically played in promoting political independence and human rights, one is not oblivious of its important role as a vehicle for social transformation, public enlightenment and entertainment

Sharing buttons