The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abia State Chapter, under the leadership of John Emejor, is making the profession proud. The chapter is ever busy pushing the frontiers of new ideas far beyond what it has been through summits and various kinds of committee assignments. This is great, especially when viewed from the perspective of what has been happening in the country in the last 30 years. Perhaps an inheritance from the military era when we had a command and control structure, Nigerians no longer like to run on reason. In fact, it is beginning to look as if to spend quality time to reason is a time wasted. The truth is that thinking people would always produce great results.
Our citizens have become experts in talking out of order.
We talk down on great ideas and talk great leaders and young ones with great potentials not only out of confidence, we virtually harass them out of strategic places, where their intelligence would have made the difference in our developmen- tal efforts. Often times, we hear citizens say the problem of the country is not talk and prescrip- tions but implementation. On the surface such outburst appears to be in tandem with our emotional bent, over the years there seems to have been some talk without corresponding positive results,
so naturally nearly everybody is dejected and tired. Most people do not find reasons to have interest in talking, so such statements as stated above receive their approval and that seems to make it look as the correct position when it is not.
One feature of a progressive entity is dynamism. Nothing can be static, no human society or organization can be static because man by nature is a change agent. Every minute human activities and actions solve old problems and create new ones in the process.
A solution may have been the ultimate, yes for yesterday but time, even two minutes is enough to alter what was considered an unassailable equation yesterday. Societies are ever changing and so are the challenges and if society must solve its problems and solve them well, then the strategy must be hands on the system approach. The leadership class must be sensi- tive and always on the lookout. Few years ago, the security chal- lenge was different from what we are facing today. In those days, one individual with one police escort can have millions of naira in the car, leave Aba by midnight, have many stops on the road and still get into Abuja in safety.
Try that today and see if you will be alive to tell the story. The threat will not come from criminal elements alone, even those we recruited to offer us protection become transform into different men once darkness sets in. In the past, deviant elements in our midst feared the landlord and the police, but today they will confront the landlord and bark out orders as if they are co-owners of the house. Today one or two police men are not enough to offer one protection.
In fact, their sight provokes the anger of criminals who have become so audacious these days that they confront state officers with arms. Boko Haram was not there and if we are a truthful people, we would admit that none of us in our wildest imagination ever envis- aged that something like Boko Haram would be with us. Ethnic and religious tensions were with us but not in the exact shape that we have it today, where government that should be an example has become a leading hand in promoting ethnicity and nepotism. Kleptomania and graft were with us but they have since assumed frightening dimension. This is why talking is good.
We talk and examine our problems in light of past experiences and current realities and then use the two to find sustainable solutions. Tuesday, the NUJ Abia Chapter continued what, as I said earlier, has become a tradition, a good culture if you like, that of gathering, talking and finding solu- tions to our country’s problems. It was tagged media summit and the theme was, “Media, Democracy, Development and the role of stakeholders.” The events had two guest lecturers, Sir Chimdi Oluoha, a journalist and retired Permanent Secretary and Professor Greg Ibe, founder of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, both men did not disappoint the lively crowd even when they approach the topics slightly differently. Oluoha as a professional was concerned about professionalism and ethics of practice and Ibe was concerned about discussing in a more stringent way, basic challenges of the societies.
Both views have their place in the development prospects of our country.
I had my views, and Sir Oluoha made allusions to some of them while giving his lecture but I want to expand on some of them, which I think are very important. The centrality of the media is enough reason the citizens and the people should show so much focus on the developments in the media sector. There is nothing wrong if the government at any given time gives so much to develop and stabilize the media sector. In fact this is a novel idea. At some point in the development trajectory of Britain and America, for instance, governments there capitalized the media to make them strong and viable even when private indi- viduals owned such businesses. It should happen here. We capitalize aviation, manufacturing and others and the media never receives one mention in that direction, this one omission too costly.
There is need for a national ideology or vision. Its absence has forced the media to run in different directions. This is not healthy for the country. The western world has taught us to publish everything and be damned under the concept of publishing the truth, but in actuality our “teachers” don’t do the same. These guys know what the interest of the nation is and they avoid any commentary or reportage that could derail that interest. This is why soldiers from those countries would invade Syria, Libya or Iraq, commit various kinds of human rights abuses and such stories would be out of public view and when for any reason they are published, those media find a way to offer defense. This is because they know what the national interest is, the vision is clear. The media should fight for a Nigerian vision; this is very crucial. Mass communication curriculum review has become very imperative. This concept of bad news is the news should be reversed to good news is the best news. Time has come when we should be telling positive stories about ourselves and our endeavours.
Media professionals should begin to think about owning media organizations. It is also time media professionals’ devout attention to constructively interrogating strategic developmental programmes in their areas. Those in Abia for instance should be talking about palm plantations, rubber, cassava, cashew nut farming, seaport, new ultra modern housing and industrial estates, technology and positive transformation of Aba into another Lagos or Dubai. At the federal level we have a national vision, which will encapsulate administrative architecture, what we want in education, health, aviation, agriculture, manufactur- ing, international trade and even military buildup. We need an all politicians and all political parties summit and even a sovereign national conference.