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How Potent is The Nigerian Press? – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | July 9, 2018 – It is trite knowledge that democracy is a concept that invariably has to do with the participation of people in governance. This engagement is presented in four pillars. They are the legislative, executive, judiciary and the press, known as the Fourth Estate of the realm.The legislative pillar is responsible for making laws used to govern a state. These laws are either formed directly by the people (direct democracy) or through their representatives often referred to as indirect democracy. Similarly, the executive pillar is responsible for implementing the laws enacted by the legislature. Those in this pillar of democracy as well as the legislative are selected on the basis of election. This is also called the merit system.
The judiciary is another pillar of democracy which interprets and keeps a check on laws and orders and ensures that the laws and orders do not infringe on the fundamental rights of citizens of a country. Of course, the press is also a pillar of democracy. It ensures that all people living far and near are abreast of developments in a country or location. It guarantees transparency and harmony in the workings of the three arms of government. Democracy is not practised or fully implied if the four pillars fail to function appropriately. All the pillars have varying powers depending on the country they are operated. For instance, in the United States of America (USA), the court is very powerful while in the United Kingdom (UK), it is the legislature that dominates the judiciary.
Any system that awards greater control to any person or group over others is not a democracy. It is an autocracy. However, there is a fierce debate among some persons on whether the media is to be called the fourth pillar of democracy. If the media were not significant, in the first place, the argument would not have arisen. The media is very crucial that was why the British parliamentarian, Lord Macaulay, had given it the status of the fourth pillar. Undoubtedly, the media plays a far-reaching role as an informative bridge between governing bodies and the general public. In the absence of the media, how many people will acknowledge the policies of government or the bills that are passed in parliament and what their positive or negative effects are? If media practitioners remain reticent in the face of bad governance, won’t the government act without restraints and violate the rights of its citizens? It is for this critical role of the media it is normally said that “the freedom of media is the guarantee of success for a government.”
This captious task of the media is exemplified in the Indian rape incident that transpired a couple of years ago. In that event, the media played a remarkable role in raising a robust debate on women’s safety. As soon as news of the rape broke, the media rose to the occasion and led Indians to deeply introspect. Furthermore, the Indian press encouraged citizens to be part of radical reforms the country required, while at the same time it roundly gave expression to public grief. Thereafter, the media covered the demonstrations and accorded the demands of protesters a voice. It also exposed growing crime statistics against women. In the light of the vibrancy of the Indian press and that of its Western counterparts, can the Nigerian press be said to have lived up to its billing? How potent is it? Does it really set agenda for Nigerians or even engage in passionate advocacy in civil rights as the Indian press did in the predicament of those women?

Perhaps the Nigerian media has done creditably well. After all, it contributed incredibly to the return of democracy in the country. This it did through criticisms of the military juntas, mobilisation of the citizens to participate in entrenching democratic values, exposing cases of corruption and making public officers duly accountable to the people. Despite these great attainments of the media, it is still faced with severe challenges bordering on ethnicity, lack of adequate modern communication gadgets, strain from pressure groups and the government, political patronage, ownership question, massive corruption, poor welfare and insecurity, among several others. Clearly, the Nigerian media needs urgent redemption to live up to the ideals of the profession. Therefore, it must deal with the caged cases of corruption and unethical conduct among its members. Let the right atmosphere be created for members of this noble profession to operate without let or hindrance.


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Posted by on Jul 9 2018. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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