The media should get the candidates to give us state of the nation interview, ask them well researched questions and make intelligent follow ups.
Today’s outing is of a different kind. It is a special appeal to my colleagues of the pen fraternity. It is a call on them to change style and approach in the practice of the noble profession in order to rescue our country from the path of perdition and put it on the track road of sustainable progress and abundance. This task I have set for myself is a venture every citizen ought to be involved in, in the interest of our coming generation who we owe a responsibility to develop our space and make it congenial for habitation.
This is not the first time am making such appeal. I did a similar thing in this forum not long ago and am doing it again today because of the centrality of the media in development anywhere in the world. If history is true, it is not political actors that create the right structure for the progressive development of the society. The task has always been beautifully executed by the judiciary by way of judicial pronouncements and of course the press through creative agenda setting and holding public officers accountable for their actions and inactions. This is the motivation for this renewed appeal and it is my fervent prayer that this appeal receives the attention of the leadership of the profession, by this I mean the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria.
It is also my desire that when the attention is attracted, that they react positively and very quickly too. If we subscribe like we do to democracy, then election times are the most auspicious moments to initiate monumental transformative initiatives. One of our fault lines in this country is the culture of denial. We love to play the ostrich; things are bad, instead of saying exactly so, we either prevaricate or tell an outright lie by the claim that all is well. Our leaders say so and are ready to swear that it is the gospel truth. The truth is, our country is now permanently stationed at a dangerous cross-road, except we move away from where we stand fatal accident is inevitable. We have a centre, like Chinua Achebe would observe, but it is not holding.
The truth again is all the features of a failed state are here with us. We have governments across the three tiers that are not in control of activities in their areas of jurisdiction. None of them offered adequate services, enough to justify their existence. The protection of lives and property has since slipped off their control. What we have today is a situation of everyone to himself and God for us all. Recently I have had reasons to stay mainly in the rural area for a much longer time, what I see frightens me just as I expect it to frighten any other right thinking citizen. There is no social infrastructure. The economic base is still very rudimentary and subsistent; same as it was or as my friend would say, worse than it was before independence. The religious boom we witness in cities is down in the rural area because of hunger, massive deprivation and dislocation.
The skyline in the night is scary and scrambling for food is becoming a way of life. I use to think ours is a very educated society, I want to say I have done away with that notion. This is not an educated society; rather it is a society of the ignoramuses. The number of untrained persons by far outnumbers those we have tutored. Most of the young men and women I saw did not in any way behave like people who had seen the walls of the school building, if some of them did, then it would be a case of having passed through a school without the school passing through them. They lacked manners, spoke and acted most of the time dirty. Evidence of cultism was manifest just as one could tell that the new generation now glorify the philosophy that might is right. The point I am going to make next may sound funny but it is true, some of the times I had t act stupid, throwing away civility and display naked bravado to gain some space. I laughed my heart out at the end of the day because all that was for me indication of how bad things are with my country.
New generation are the successor people, leaders and followers of tomorrow, when you have a not-so-well equipped generation coming up and you fold your hands, or look away as if nothing is wrong, that is a sure recipe for Armageddon. We should be worried, it should be more so when we are aware our population is growing geometrically and there is no corresponding effort to provide avenues for self actualization. This is calamitous. We should not allow it to happen and that is where the media and the judiciary like I observed earlier come in. We subscribe to democracy, nothing wrong with that, even though I had expected we do something all sane societies would do, get our scholars together and charge them to create out own democratic model that has regard for our peculiarities.
We have not done so but it doesn’t matter. What we have, if well practiced can give us appreciable progress and relief. Again that is where the media comes in, it must help the nation develop a vision and help the citizens follow the vision and path of rectitude by speaking to our consciences. We need quality leadership material, in fact by now if it were in some other places some of those jostling for public offices would have long been consigned to retirement homes by the sheer force of media power. The media should get the candidates to give us state of the nation interview, ask them well researched questions and make intelligent follow ups. The candidates must answer and speak in specifics on all issues like education, health, transport, agriculture, sports, social infrastructure such as light, water, roads, human capital development, refineries and petroleum supply, manufacturing/productive economy, military, police, foreign policy especially attitude to West Africa, Africa and the world, foreign trade, maritime and aviation development, media power and dominance, youth development program among others. The media must reinvent itself and the time is now.