Keeping the Nigerian Media Free
In recent time, the Nigerian media and its friends and allies have spoken out loudly on the danger posed to the continued sustenance of a climate of freedom of expression and free media practice in the country. It is not Nigerians that are worried. As evidenced from the recent remarks made by the Consul General of the US in Nigeria this week, many others across the world are also bothered. It is a challenge that we believe should be frontally addressed.
This is more so when we appreciate that the making of Nigeria as we know it, the struggle for independence from British colonial rule and the resurgent clamour for democracy after years of military intervention in the body-politic were heavily facilitated by the media. From the emergence of Iwe Irohin to the setting up of publications like the Lagos Record and the Daily Times and on to the likes of the West African Pilot and the Nigerian Tribune, the media has definitely not been found wanting in the major struggles of the peoples of Nigeria.
Even for the current democracy to emerge, the likes of TheNews, Tempo played a most heroic and evidently unforgettable, if not heroic role. So it should be a given that the media should be embraced at a time like this. But alas!
Indeed, there is also a sense in which it is clearly in the enlightened self-interest of our current rulers to do everything there is to keep the freedom doors open. The truth is that we currently have a very media savvy generation even as the contemporary demands of nation building require more expression and communication and less coercion and muscling. As came out very clearly in the events related to the EndSARS protests, the country does have a lot to gain by getting this majority segment of the population in the nation building activity loop.
This is also one other reason why the Twitter ban was not only misguided, it is also why it should be formally rescinded now. Governance is more than muscle-flexing. In very many respects, it is about delivering tangible growth results to the citizenry and you can only achieve same with the people’s active, voluntary contribution. Nigeria needs its media and citizens in the development room. Government should do the needful. Stop gagging the media. Stop throttling the people. ‘Let freedom reign!’
Now the point has been made. What remains is for the lesson to be learnt. And we hope those that should take action are reading the scripts.
Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Information Minister