By: Ekpali Saint and Chinagorom Ugwu
Nsukka- Renowned media expert and member, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Barr. Kingsley Osadolor has urged Nigerian journalists to remain watchdogs of the society to save Nigerian democracy.
Osadolor, who made the call in Nsukka on Thursday at the 12th Jackson Annual Lecture of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) said the phenomenon of ‘media capture’ was a primary threat to the ability of the media to exercise its constitutional and professional powers to foster best practices in democracy in Nigeria
Delivering the lecture entitled, “Media Freedom: Utilitarian Imperative and the Pursuit of Democratic Ends” the media expert and legal practitioner, who was the 1984 best graduating student in the department noted that the fourth estate must constantly remind itself of its mission, which is the watchdog of the society and not a lapdog.
He said, “Though media offerings may be mediated by ownership and editorial policy, the goal of the media should remain one of providing the citizens the information for effective participation in civic affairs. The media can promote new ideas, thoughts and instigate actions through its watchdog role.”
Osadolor is a former Editor of the Guardian Newspaper and East Africa correspondent of The African Guardian added that “Perhaps the greatest impediment to the full realization of the watchdog role is media capture, which results in deference and subservience to the other realms and influential citizens, including powerful corporations, over whom the Fourth Estate is supposed to play the role of sentinel. Ownership, commercial influence, ideology, governmental and partisan political pressures, as well as advertiser blackmail, are key factors in media capture.”
The guest speaker, who is also a co-presenter of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) breakfast show, ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ said as long as democracy was practised in any country, the media would continue to witness challenges and weaknesses of democratic government urging media practitioners to brace up and face the responsibility of “seeking and telling the truth”.
Earlier during the courtesy visit to the University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe, Barr. Osadolor had urged the Vice-chancellor to speedily grant the request of the Jacksonites alumni for a portion of land for the proposed School of Communication and Media Studies Project.
Responding, Vice-chancellor, while commending the jacksonite alumni for the lofty dream, promised to provide the land for the project in the next two weeks.
The Vice-Chancellor said: “We will invite the director of physical planning. That land must be given to you in the next two weeks. You will secure position of that land in the next two weeks so that these Jacksonites when they come, we will show them the piece of land.
“I think we have a lot to learn from the Jacksonite because so far, they have made the right move and we are encouraging graduates of other departments and faculties to learn from Jacksonites and establish the kind of thing you (Jacksonite alumni) are doing”.