The times we are in our country demands that citizens and especially the media find the courage to stand for the greater good. Time and again, citizens, state actors and the Fourth Estate of the Realm have laboured in their response to the challenges of nation building. Sometimes, the frustration is visible to even the blind. However, we also know that countries the world over have faced debilitating crises that sometimes brought some to her knees. Wars, strife and everyday instability have plagued nations simply because of lack of altruism in the conduct of men and women who probably meant well at the beginning but missed it because those who ought to rein them in failed in discharging this onerous task.
In Nigeria, the media have always stood out. There has never been any time in our country that journalism was found wanting. We always discharged our roles. The constitutionally guaranteed function of holding of the government accountable to the people has remained sacrosanct. In our history, the media was a bastion of nationalist struggle. Our founders used journalism to fight the British in order to gain independence. In the end, they succeeded. Not just that, the success was epochal in the annals of independence struggles around the world.
In our case, conflict was minimal. There was hardly any bloodshed. This can be traced to intellectualism that characterized the struggle which was championed by journalists and journalism.
Furthermore, the media once again showed her sagacity during the fight to enthrone democracy. With successive brutal military regimes, it was journalism that stood tall, engaging segments of the society and projecting the voices of dissent. Now, democracy is here. And it appears that we are plagued by the vagaries of our own brand of democratic practice. The noble causes that the media championed and were known for are now being relegated. We seldom stand for the country; we seek economic buoyancy for self and not for the people, and we have somehow become the ills we used to point out in others.
We appear to project division and celebrate those who have pilfered and plundered our common heritage. The patriotic, nationalist and unifying Nigerian media are now dragging the nation from different directions. Sensationalism has become the rule rather than the exception.
At a time the country is facing real security challenges, including terrorism in the North East, we tend to celebrate the cowardice of Boko Haram than the bravery, success and sacrifices of our gallant soldiers. When a crime is committed, we bicker over inanities instead of empathizing with the bereaved and assisting the relevant agencies with useful information that will help them to do their work. We enhance the voice of ethnic champions who feed off moments of instability; rather than project voices of reason who seek justice, peace and unity.
Then again, there is the ubiquitous social media that is threatening to render fine journalism comatose-churning out fake news, hate speech and sexing up real news with a bid to attract clicks and likes.
Pitiably, even the mainstream has been forced to join the inglorious “notice me” attitude of made-in-Nigeria Citizen Journalism. But we cannot continue on this trajectory. Journalists have a duty to retrieve the journalism profession from charlatans that currently dominate the cyber space. This is why we are here: to restore the dignity of the media! We are therefore bound by the lofty objective of liberal journalism which yields space to reason, equity, citizens, community and country.
Politicos is an online all-politics newspaper that will give equal projection to every Nigerian that has something to say. We are not partisan, yet we are not neutral. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor…” So, we shall not be neutral as long as socio-political injustice and disequilibrium pervade the land.
While we hold accountable the stakeholders and institutions that manage our political system, we shall project their activities at all times. For us, the political parties and players are equal. Therefore, they shall receive equal attention. In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and her partners in civil society organizations, donor agencies and countries shall be reported with renewed vigour. The same way the legislature, the judiciary shall be helped to sustain their roles in a democracy. We shall ask the right questions and investigate to get the right answers. At all times, Politicos shall not shy away from taking a position on the side of the people and the country.
We shall not support insurgents or secessionists of any kind at any time. Ours is to expose injustice anywhere and everywhere in our democratic space so that in the end, genuine reconciliation, unity and national pride shall be fostered.
You are welcome!