Pendulum: The Threat Against Broadcast Media In Nigeria – By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, I was supposed to give the speech, largely reproduced below, two days ago in Ibadan, but I was in Accra, Ghana, so opted to speak via Zoom. The occasion was the seminar on Broadcast Media and National Security organised by the Foundation for Ibadan Television Anniversary celebration at the Press Centre in Iyaganku. Unfortunately, man proposes but God disposes, as the saying goes. The event was to start at 10.00am in Nigeria and 9.00am in Ghana. I was very ready but the event itself was not ready in Ibadan. And when it finally took off, the highly distinguished speakers took the stage for a very long time. Since I had other engagements in Ghana, I couldn’t give the speech eventually. Being a topic that is very topical and germane to our present situation, I decided to edit and publish it on this page. The revised version now appears below.
“It is most pleasing to be part of this celebration. The celebration is heartening for rekindling memories of a legacy, and eye opening, for reminding us of the promises of the future, if we learn from our past. It is a celebration that helps recollections of the past and engenders reflections towards understanding the present and aids us to interpret what the future portends. It teaches us loads of lessons on the vision of leadership, the strength of implementation, and the purpose of governance. It could also tickle our imaginations on the ambivalence of the present government, for not getting things right, despite the salutary seminal wisdom that should have been gained from past experiences. Added to this is why things seem to have been easier and better in the past, except for a few aberrations, and if at all we can do anything to correct our preference for the past over the present, regarding performance and accomplishment.
The noble efforts of the organisers are remarkable, and it is the reason we would not let an opportunity for evaluation slip past. The event can create a prospect for conversations around the progress the broadcast media has made, or has not made, and how the operation of the industry is affecting governance, or our growth and development effort.
I thank you most profoundly for the privilege of speaking on the topic, Broadcast Media and National Security, just as I look forward to a robust conversation on the subject and on related matters. It is trite to acknowledge that the Foundation for Ibadan Television Anniversary Celebration (FITAC), for helping us travel the memory lane, recollecting the historic commissioning of the Western Nigeria Television Station (WNTV), in Ibadan, October 31, 1959, by the legendary Premier of the then Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
That feat was the first in Africa, and a step in advancing information dissemination from the audio-visual prism, and when media and communication was still ascending. Chief Awolowo established the station on the back of early developments in technologies of communication. Before then, the world had been a witness to the print media, the telegraph, the radio, the telephone, and then the Black-and-White TV. The world was yet to imagine the coloured television, satellite broadcasting, the Internet, and international mobile telephony. It was also a time when we were still imminently expecting political independence, and when you would imagine that technological and political circumstances were unfavourable to innovations.
Regardless, the late sage pulled through the psychological and physical barriers to see tomorrow. In seeing the day after, he envisaged the flux of instruments of communication and the need to not just ensure the region’s integration into global communication patterns and peculiarities, but to share exposure to information, awareness and education, through a nascent audio-visual device. It is why Chief Awolowo’s great legacy will remain everlasting, and the more reason his vision will always be a lesson for remarkable and memorable leadership.
It is also the reason this celebration is worth our while, consistent with the importance of contextualizing processes, as a precursor to further efforts. I congratulate us once more, on this auspicious anniversary, just as I salute your wisdom for asking us to practically look at the relationship between Broadcast Media and National Security.
To do this examination, we should understand that the broadcast media is a media genre, entailing the electronic spread of information, using signals, audio, and video to a diverse audience over disparate places and spaces, and on different scales. The technique can include print, emails, texts, and nowadays through the digital and the internet media. The context of broadcasting has grown in sophistication from the simpler variant of audio-visual rendition of news to involve a convergence of methods like print, texts, emails, and on a variegated platform. The growth is easy because of the rise in technologies of communication and humanity’s predilection for creativity, in the bid to cope with nature, minimise the disadvantage of distance and to share real time information over locations, in picturesque formats.
Due to its peculiar features, broadcasting media may invalidate distance, provide a sense of immediacy, and grow the feelings of co-presences. The multiple opportunity to watch, listen, read and revert, exemplifies the Broadcast Media as another tool for governance, and a determiner and instrument of national security. Though the concept of national security has been defined in different ways, it envisages the extent to which a sovereignty nation prioritises its safety, besides the steps taken to guarantee this. National Security is therefore about stability in the polity, progress, the predictability of a socio-political and economic system, and the measures deployed to actualise them.
The broadcast media is on the other hand a veritable tool of governance, for helping the diffusion of information, the ingraining of awareness and the provision of knowledge on issues. Doing this is significant for edification, the creation of citizen understanding, and the fostering of inclusion, integration and involvement. A salutary process of using the media genre in the manner that is consistent with a constitutional expectation of satisfying the wellbeing of the people through good governance would outline the Broadcast media in the positive light.
Deploying these media alternatives for hate, division, inciting violence, and much else means an improper use of the media variant. For its power of picturesque rendition of information, in real time and across distances, the broadcast media can be effective in instantaneous communication, and including the dispersal of message intent. It can also be otherwise if the intent is mischievous, unsalutary and unsavoury. What matters is motive and the control system.
In a free society, the broadcast media can stimulate thoughts, be used as simulation of present and future propensities and expand understanding for the appreciation of governance and the course of national security. This is less so in an unfree system, where thoughts are controlled and only in line with the authority’s whims and caprices. This challenges and implicates the human element in the application of Broadcast Media character to the maintenance or substance of a national security ecosystem. In cautioning against the negative application of the character regardless, we need to understand that the media is, overall, a marketplace of ideas. In this market, we welcome all, subject to interests and the mechanisms for sieving content. An appreciation of this, especially in a democracy, is often always helpful for national security.
Deviations are a prerequisite for multiple opposition, dissenters, unrests, and a shrinking of the civic space. That space is the public sphere, the space of ventilation, where citizens are symbolic participants in the governance process.
The media, particularly the broadcast media has a vital role to play in the political sphere of any nation, more so that of a developing nation like Nigeria. When properly deployed the broadcast media is to be used as a complement to national security. For example, in the halcyon days of military coups, it was the broadcast media that was the essential tool and ally of the successful or unsuccessful coup plotter. Capture and control the airwaves and you were guaranteed success. Fail in this mighty task and you were doomed as Lt. Colonel Buka Suka Dimka discovered to his chagrin in February 1976.
However, in Nigeria the converse seems to have been the case mainly because the broadcast media has been largely controlled by the State. Even when there have been private entities and practitioners competing with the government-controlled media, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has stepped in to whittle the independence of these private organisations and thus diminish and belittle freedom of speech and democracy. Several instances abound, but those that I will briefly mention are the attacks on AIT with regard to their coverage of the 2015 elections and their portrayal of the then APC Presidential candidate, now President Buhari, the recent debacle involving Channels Television on account of the disclosures by Retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi about the sponsors of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and the protection they enjoy in this present dispensation, and of course the notorious manner in which government tried to manipulate the broadcast media during the EndSARs protest. The positive side was the influence of social media, a genre of the broadcast media, in standing firm and resolute to inform and to defend our collective national security interests during that particular protest.
The media has then turned to being seen as a demonic body capable of scuttling the nefarious activities of whoever is our leader at the time, because of our penchant for demonstrating allegiance to personalities rather than the country and its institutions. It is this proclivity that has contributed to the great morass of inefficiency and incompetence that we find ourselves in where our national security is concerned.
The national security challenges which we now face is legion, scary and potentially damning and cataclysmic for our country. Now is the time to utilise the instrument and instrumentality of the broadcast media to disseminate information and educate the people about the national security threats that we face and implore the people to stand firm and cooperate in rooting out the terrorists and bandit, evil perpetrators of this nefarious and dastardly activities. We have the advantage of the social media network which is a new adjunct of the broadcast media family. Their reach is simply unbelievable and mind-boggling. Social media is a veritable tool to be sued in fighting the war against insurrection, terrorism and banditry. It can however only be meaningful deployed by a government that appreciates its attributes and not one that is willing to shut it down because it cannot stand the scrutiny and criticism that emanates from this genre.
The titanic Chief Awolowo recognised more than 60 years ago, even before then, and much afterwards, that broadcast media and national security are complementary features and institutions to be deployed for greater national development and unity, through information and education and was not to be used as a tool of repression and suppression leading to his multi-levelled and varied legacies in the media space. The onus is on present leaders to learn from the lessons of the past to grow our democracy, trigger development and consolidate our national security. The time to act is now. I congratulate us all, once more, on this anniversary, just as I wish us all joyful celebrations.
God bless you all.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
CONGRATULATIONS, IYA ADURA, ESTHER AJAYI
Exactly four years ago yesterday, September 3, 2017, I met the prayerful woman of God, remarkable Evangelist, effervescent Personality and global Philanthropist IYA ADURA REVEREND MOTHER ABIMBOLA ESTHER AJAYI in the city of London, after an introduction from a gentleman called MR ABIODUN PASEDA.
This meeting would soon cause a major revolution amongst the spiritual sect popularly referred to as the “White Garment Churches” in Nigeria and beyond. Ovation International was engaged to wage and stage a blistering media and public relations campaign around the world towards changing the negative narrative associated with this variant of African Christianity.
Her determination and stupendous hard work made our job easier. She has always been a woman with passion on a mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in a distinct and different way. She wanted to touch the hearts and souls of myriads of people of diverse nationalities and cultures not just by preaching to them but by touching their lives with acts of grace, generosity and care. She had a clear vision and mission about what she wanted to achieve, and this coupled with her humongous capacity to fund this vision meant that it was so easily achievable within a short period of time. We played our part in showcasing her to the world and she was warmly welcomed and received.
IYA ADURA, in four years has become a global phenomenon. Her generosity and kindness to not only members of her church in particular, but mankind in general is exemplary and legendary. This has endeared her to millions of fans worldwide. Her model and breed are rare and refreshing.
Tomorrow, IYA ADURA is set to change the landscape of Christendom on Victoria Island Lagos. The beachfront edifice aptly named LOVE OF CHRIST GENERATION CHURCH CATHEDRAL will blow your mind. Built by the construction giant, CAPPA & D’ALBERTO PLC, the Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece which even before its opening has already become a tourist attraction… I am convinced that it will also command the attention and devotion of the Faithful. IYA ADURA is proving to be a blessing once again. Hearty congratulations to her and her team at the Cathedral.