In the beginning was the Nigerian press. And the press was with Nigeria. And the press was Nigeria. And nothing Nigerian was ever created without the press. Nothing!!!
The history of the press in Nigeria is as rich as the history of Nigeria itself. And equally as checkered. The first generation of Nigerian leaders were in one way or another products of the press. Those who did not come from within the press, came from without. Their march to the pinnacle of their career were almost always orchestrated by the press; the same press that would later celebrate their failure.
The personalities in contemporary Nigerian politics were just intriguing as the media that made them. Very early in Nigeria, some smart Nigerians did realise the enormous power the press could wield. They explored that power to the fullest and in the process transformed ordinary mortals into mini-gods. That was how we had Zik as the only man who could outsmart a mermaid that made it possible for Niger bridge to be built; an Awo whose face appeared on the moon; and a Balewa who had coffee with the gods.
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If the West African Pilot generation of the Nigerian press created myths around the personalities of their time, the operational methodology of the contemporary Nigerian press and the present generation of Nigerian gutter press, remains a mystery to the average Nigerian.
To truly understand the contemporary trends manifesting itself in Nigerian press today, one has to first understand the environment that begot today’s press and the circumstances that molded the practitioners.
The dominant influences of today’s press emerged during the period of military dictatorship that began after the fall of Shehu Shagari’s democratic administration which the incumbent Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, ruthlessly overthrew.
It would be necessary at this point to try to define the Nigerian press. At the risk of coming across as arrogant, the Nigerian press is in reality what is otherwise known as the Lagos-Ibadan press. Their perception of Nigeria is what the world has consistently seen. It may not be the whole picture, but it is the only picture that counts. It may not be
fair, but it is the reality as it is today. The different titles of newspapers and magazines scattered round Lagos to Ibadan, with the supporting television and radio stations.
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It is one of those lopsided life in Nigeria that the Editor of Daily Sketch in Akure or Daily Standard in Jos or the Editor of Daily Observer in Benin are not as visible as a staff writer for a Lagos based title.
And since the electronic media has continued to be predominantly government owned and where they are privately owned are editorially timid, essentially the active press is the Lagos-Ibadan press. So for the purpose
of this analysis, a look at the Nigerian press would be through the eyes of the Lagos-Ibadan press.
References would however be made to newspapers like the Vanguard Newspaper, that have a distinctive voice.
Right from the beginning, its posture and domino had always been enshrouded with falsehood and propaganda. This has made the Vanguard newspaper arrogate themselves as an infamy media press of President Buhari.
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It is no longer a hidden fact that the Vanguard newspaper had accepted to do this hatchet and unprofessional job for Buhari whose desperation of quenching or countering opposing views and dissenting voices using military might has not yielded any positive result, hence the resort to a media creation of fictitious characters and stories to counter or try to dwindle the ever rising profile of IPOB and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Most despicable is the unruly and unethical manner at which Vanguard has thrown caution to the wind and embraced unprofessionalism and senseless propaganda as its modus operandi in reporting news that has to do with Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB or Biafra at large.
The false media creation of unsubstantiated and fictitious groups and names like TRIPOB, RE-IPOB, BUHARIPOB, et al, with their accompanying masked and shadowy propagators as leaders of these fake and nonexistent groups, were all masterminded by Vanguard having been induced by the brown envelope they solicit from the Federal government.
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As in the media culture, the effectiveness and accountability of journalists in Nigeria depends on understanding and following professional codes of conduct/ethics. The negative effects of corruption on the polity of the media is enormous, and if nothing is done about this problem, there is every indication that the brown envelope could turn to a white envelope, meaning its will acceptance as part of the job.
Because they demand payments for publication of news, it is inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event. The integrity of Vanguard reporters and editors has been compromised by what Buhari offers them and as such, causing serious effect in the news reportage of which journalism practice is based on fairness, objectivity and accuracy among others.
The total press freedom by libertarianism has been so much abused by Vanguard Newspaper; they no longer provide the masses with true and credible comprehensive account of daily news because their morality and consciousness has been blinded and overshadowed by Buhari’s moneybags.
Presently, Nigeria is suffering from lack of information from the press which is based on truth, accuracy, fairness and objectivity due to the level of corruption in the country. The false reporters and editors of Vanguard Newspaper has further permeated this problem to such a worsened condition that if nothing drastic is done about it, the journalism development aspiration will die due to brown envelope reportage.
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In their constant twisting of facts and false reportage, Vanguard Newspaper has dragged corruption into the media that what often passes for exclusive stories are fiction dressed as facts in the press. The desperation imposed on them by the government for survival in these difficult times has made this inevitable. Still, it is not an excuse.
Vanguard seems to forget that the less they do their job well, the less they impress the public and the more they damage their reputation and integrity as professionals. The barely literate analysis in their newspaper impresses no one. The discerning read it, chuckle and dismiss them of hand.
It is understandable that Vanguard have been persuaded or induced to publish damaging stories and character defamation against Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, but they should have been brave enough to know that facts and truths cannot be hidden for so long and by the time this explodes, their integrity would have been more bastardized and completely in shambles.
By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers