Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

Nigerian Media and Political Neutrality

Media regulation began with the application of the printing press to book production from the mid-15th century in Western Europe. I have traced the history of media regulation in Nigeria to the period of British colonialism. The colonial masters knew the meaning and importance of informing the society and therefore made laws to check the type of information that must get to the populace. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was established by Decree 38 of 1992 that was later amended by the NBC (Amendment) Decree No 55 of 1999.

The NBC was established to maintain an umpire posture, consider and investigate complaints regarding content of a broadcast or conduct of a station, uphold the principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting amongst other chores. It became obvious that the NBC exhibited bias by allowing certain content favourable to the incumbent government as broadcasted by private and publicly owned stations, namely AIT and NTA, thus giving the ruling PDP unfair advantage over the then main opposition APC.

Media logo 2

The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) was established by the NPC Act No. 85 of 1992 (as Amended in Act 60 of 1999) to ensure the maintenance of high professional standards for the Nigerian Press. The NPC Act No. 85 is an enactment for the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); and the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN). The NUJ, NGE and NPAN were supposed to ignore the trivialities of the penny press and the political bondage of the partisan press. The newspapers were supposed to be objective, politically neutral and should not owe allegiance to any political party. Rather, it should furnish political leadership by setting the public good above duty to party. Ayo Fayose employed the print media to play God by making a death-wish to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in paid advertorials.

NTA logo AIT logo

The legendary Babatunde Jose the former Managing Director of the erstwhile 1960s Daily Times of Nigeria once said that media establishments in Africa have petered into slavish and virtually sycophantic mega-phones of the government or of the party in control.  This was exhibited during the divisive and hate-filled political campaigns and personal attacks as manifested in sponsored and paid interviews by Femi Fani Kayode and the “Lion of Bourdillon” documentaries. The NTA refused to air APC campaign adverts against PDP. Also, the NTA and AIT did not give the APC the right of reply in their broadcasts as the AIT fired away with hate campaigns of calumny engineered by the PDP. It is interesting to note that after his candidate lost to the opposition, Fani-Kayode was a pitiful sight as he cried out that he had no grudges but only doing his job.

The press was intended to be a “watchdog” for the country, similar to its role in the UK or the US. It has had difficulty fulfilling that role due to the demands of various competing special interest groups. The large number of different voices created something of a marketplace of ideas but some of those ideas resulted in taking advantage of the power of incumbency to broadcast falsehood, malicious content and defamatory messages under the guise of generating revenues. CNN’s rejection of political hate-filled adverts from politicians benefitted the local media in Nigeria. It is estimated that NTA, AIT and the conniving print media made a combined-total of approximately N20Billion cash airing and publishing hate-filled political campaign messages – under the watchful eye of the NBC and NPC.

In the early 1980s John Merrill noted that newspapers in Nigeria attempted to recruit former broadcast journalists. This runs counter to the career path in many other countries where electronic media managers have sought to recruit print journalists. Was this responsible for the resort to yellow journalism in the press or unbridled visual broadcastings before the just concluded general polls in Nigeria?

News . Newspapers

Objectivity in news presentation is not a myth, nor a mere philosophical abstraction, but an attainable media goal which the journalist must strive for, even in the face of opposing realities. At the end of the 20th century Nigeria had more than 30 newspapers; 20 magazines and journals in circulation; 30 television and radio stations. Media fare was relatively available but the Nigerian people including voters couldn’t decipher the real truth from its hate-filled partisan contents. Since the end of the polls, has there been any sanctioning process by the NBC or the NPC? Babatunde Jose was right – the media are sycophantic mega-phones of the party in control.

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Nnamdi Ebo 2By: Nnamdi Ebo
Political scientist | Author | Social commentator | THISDAY Contributor | Scholar in Legal literature & Politics | Online Newspaper Publisher | Blogger | NR Columnist

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