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Censorship: Role of Media in Sustainable Peace in Nigeria

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Nigeria started on a right footing because the leaders of the First Republic were guided by patriotism, nationalism, selflessness, justice, and fairness which formed their major traits.

Despite our heterogeneous nature, the country was moving as a united and indivisible nation.

The founding fathers left behind sound policies and programs that should have helped the country to be on the global radar.

They saw the country in its entirety as their constituency, irrespective of political, ethnic, regional and cultural disparities. At that time, Nigeria attained global respect and gained recognition.

Nigerians at home believed in their country through a coordinated media approach. The sad line of the story today is that the media has forced us to be in disarray by creating a cycle of confusion; turning Nigerians against each other.

Journalism was once a lucrative job in Nigeria but unfortunately today, it is becoming a business of the weak-minded.

Nigeria is in conflict with itself and it seems the government has lost control of the media by allowing it to become a weapon of destruction instead of a tool that should bring together the country as a single entity.

With the lack of proper censorship of our media, Nigeria is at the mercy of social media influencers.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly outlined the media practice to bridge the gap between the government and the governed.

Therefore, the media are legally mandated to serve as an enlightenment platform for the government policy formulation, directions, programs and ideologies, legislation and implementations of the fundamental principles of state policy that are concurrent with the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

The media is regarded as a factor in the world that unifies forces and creates an avenue for peace and unity to strive to pave a way for growth and development.

The emergence of the 21st-century media like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Tik Tok has done more damage than good to the hard-earned image of Nigeria and Nigerians which will take us years to rebuild.

Today, smartphones have taken over the world media gadgets as people use them from the comfort of their homes to post and share destructive content.

The posters have failed to coordinate themselves to scrutinize the country’s political, economic and socio-cultural prosperity. The fact is that the media organizations played critical roles in the nation’s struggle for independence but they cannot be discarded as playing destructive roles in modern-day Nigeria.

The conflict entrepreneurs and ethnic profilers have used the media to draw battle lines of hatred against one another; religious beliefs are now weapons, and regional and tribal discrimination is gaining ground in the current political atmosphere.

The southern-owned media organizations often report against the north and the northern-dominated media platforms underreport the south.

Unfortunately, the media has sold itself cheaply as tools to politicians and poisoned the minds of average Nigerians with contemptuous ingredients to perpetuate domination and misrepresentation agendas.

They have lost both the spirit of patriotism and the image they have earned in the eyes of the world. The nation has been flipped back to the darkness of the pre-colonial era and drifted into insecurity and uncertainty.

The #EndSARS protests of 2020 are some of the reasons why the governmental regulatory agencies like the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) need to stand up to their responsibilities to censor the current state of media uncertainty that is threatening our collective existence as a nation.

The ravaging insecurity being experienced today calls for urgent ethical guidelines for new operations of the media.

The media needs to support the government in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast, end feud between clashing farmers and herders in the north-central, banditry in the northwest, and the secessionist crisis in the southeast and other kinds of criminality around the country.

The application of scathing language has become the order of the day against one another as ethical standards are thrown overboard.

The issue of stereotypes dominated the reporting techniques in cases of national security; corruption and other organized crimes have been politicized.

NTA, Radio Nigeria, NAN, VON, and all other media organizations controlled by the government are 1,000 miles left behind when it comes to advancement.

The federal government must invest in human capital to improve and enhance the quality of its performance to meet the demands of 21st-century media equipment.

Foreign media organizations like BBC, VOA, RFI, DW, Al-Jazeera and even some of the privately-owned media like Channels TV, TVC and AIT are taking advantage of the inefficiencies of the government-owned media. 

There is an urgent need to learn from the foreign media that always paint their countries white to the detriment of the poor and underdeveloped and third-world nations.

They have lured the mindset of the people to believe that the western countries are infallible and are advanced in all strata of their endeavors.

In contrast, the foreign media organizations have spearheaded so many unethical campaigns against underdeveloped and third-world countries (Nigeria included) thereby undermining their efforts in building genuine roadmaps for political, economic and sociocultural prosperity.

I recommend that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Assembly establish a law that will urgently manage the utterances of the media influencers visually, in print and online to save Nigeria from an imminent collapse.

There is a need to use the media to actualize and propagate our diversity in the overall interest of peace and unity of Nigeria that has been left behind by our founding fathers.

Mohammed is the National President, Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative; reach him via danaudicomrade@gmail.com.

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Sani Danaudi Mohammed
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