Media-citizens Alliance, Vital for Deepening Democratic Governance

Media-citizens Alliance, Vital for Deepening Democratic Governance

Dr. Jide Jimoh, a communications expert and lecturer in the School of Arts & Communications, Lagos State University (LASU) in this interview shares perspectives on the role that the media should play in the democratic experience of Nigeria. He alludes that both the media and the citizenry hold the key to deepen democracy governance. Excerpts.

Dr. Jide Jimoh, a communications expert and lecturer in the School of Arts & Communications, Lagos State University (LASU) in this interview shares perspectives on the role that the media should play in the democratic experience of Nigeria. He alludes that both the media and the citizenry hold the key to deepen democracy governance. Excerpts.

As a communications expert, what is your assessment of the role that the media plays in Nigeria’s democratic experience?

In the current democratic environment, I will say that the media is trying its best but that best is not good enough. I say it is not good enough because of some challenges that face media practitioners in the discharge of their duties. Some of these are structural issues and it pertains to the ability of a journalist to do his work without considering extraneous factors such as the ownership of the outlet, his personal survival and welfare.  These limitations have made the media in Nigeria not to perform optimally as they are not able to go beyond the surface of issues, to do enough interpretative reporting and do enough investigative reporting which is very important to any democratic development.

What do you think is responsible for the limitations hampering journalists’ performance?

I think a lot of the problem rests with the ownership of media organizations. The owners have various motives for setting up media organizations and some of them pursue these motives in a very crass way that it becomes so obvious and open what their motives are. What I mean is that they lack finesse as the audience knows where a media organization belongs because it is so obvious that some of them are sympathetic to some political parties and that is not too good for any democratic development as this does not engender credibility. On a professional level, the journalists are trying but the structural environment and the hegemonic environment in terms s of commerce and in terms of capital and ownership is overwhelming. It is not that journalists are not competent, majority are, and know what they should do, but some f these environmental factors are affecting their performance.

Beyond the media, what else can be done to deepen democratic governance in Nigeria

The citizens have to seize the opportunity by not keeping quiet. When we talk about the media, it is an open platform where everybody is supposed to be able to contribute. What stops some of us who complain in our little corners from writing opinion articles and features stories? We should as individuals insist in what change we want and we have the media channels and also the social media to use. If you recall, the subsidy protest of 2012 was not only by the media but by the people who came out and we saw changes, even though it didn’t achieve optimally , but it mitigated and told the powers that be that we are no longer to be pushed over. So the citizenry must be more active in political activity. You don’t have to be a contestant but you can air your views in every media of mass communication available to you.  Deepening democracy in Nigeria is very important because we are ruled by the ideas of those who hold the power, so we must insist on putting the right people in the right place. And to do that, we must forget ethnic and religious sentiments and look for people who can really do the job. We shouldn’t be supporting an aspirant because he is Yoruba, an Hausa-Fulani or an IgbIra man or from the north,  east  or the south. If you look at the agitations that is causing conflict amongst the major political parties, it is not about performance but about whether it is my turn and not your turn, you have done your turn and it is now mine. We cannot deepen democracy by doing that, so the citizens must insist on the best person that can perform to do the job.

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