On Buhari’s Call For Media’s Assistance
WHEN, in appreciation of the enormous challenges facing Nigeria, which his government alone cannot handle, President Muhammadu Buhari, the other day, appealed to the media to assist him in rebuilding the country, he merely reminded journalists of a responsibility they have seemed to have overlooked in recent times.
Historically, journalists have fared well in this duty, hence they have no reason to fail now. Nigerian journalists have always played a crucial role at very important points in the nation’s history.
They were crucial to Nigeria gaining political independence in 1960, serving as veritable platforms for prosecuting the anti-colonial struggle. Led by nationalists like Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ikoli, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Mokwugo Okoye, among many others, journalists were indeed in the front trenches in the battle for an independent Nigeria.
In the dark days of military rule, journalists fought ceaselessly to ensure the end of dictatorship and the return of democracy. Thus, when President Buhari asked the media to assist in rebuilding the country, he also acknowledged that without journalists the efforts of his government would be short on achievements.
But notwithstanding the relevance of the media to development, they cannot help a government to succeed without the latter setting the tone in this regard.
The government must foster an environment that would encourage the freedom of the press. Journalists must be given free access to information; they must not be harassed and intimidated in the course of carrying out their legitimate assignments.
In this regard, the Buhari administration must make the Freedom of Information Act exist not only in letter, but also in spirit, to help journalists do their work.
While the media should be willing to help in the rebuilding of the nation, the government should not expect them to be patronising, for rebuilding the nation is best done with constructive criticisms.
Once the government has allowed such an auspicious environment for the media to operate, it should then articulate its policies and programmes.
The media can only help to create awareness about such policies and programmes to the people, an awareness that is very important because ultimately, it is the people who voted for Buhari that would also need to be informed of the activities of his government to justify the confidence they repose in him.
Thus, for the media to assist the Buhari administration, it must articulate a clear vision, one the media can interpret to the people. For instance, a central plank of the Buhari administration is the fight against corruption.
The government must outline coherent measures that would prove its readiness to make good on this promise. The Buhari government does not need to ignore good policies and programmes already enunciated by past administrations, it should build on them as long as they are useful to the development of the society.
It should work on past reports on corruption and bring those indicted to book. There have also been reports on the educational sector. The government should take these reports from wherever they are and implement them expeditiously because education is key to Nigeria’s growth.
Buhari should be seen to be laying a good foundation for a better future. He should be seen to be offering a clear vision of the change he promised.
He should not deviate from the path of enthroning new values of good governance hallmarked by transparency and fiscal prudence. It is only as he does these that the media would be his partners in rebuilding the country.