Everyone has been guilty of forgetfulness at least once in their life. It is part of our DNA as humans to forget things we would prefer not to occupy unnecessary space in our medulla oblongata. The duty of the Press is to educate its audience on things they should know in their society. The Press is also supposed to serve as a watchdog for other spheres of life. The last time I checked a watchdog is supposed to serve as a form of check and balance. The Nigerian press has failed in this regard as it fails to remind the citizenry of the misdeeds of the captains of industry, politicians and administrators who we have come to address as the high and mighty.
I reckon the word scandal is of Nigerian origin as it is synonymous with every sphere of our day to day life. Tell me a sphere of Nigerian life (that) has not had some form of scandal in the past five years and I would give you my right hand.
The politicians? James Ibori, Saminu Turaki, Diepriye Alamyiesiegha, Ayo Fayose, Femi Fani–Kayode, Orji Uzor Kalu, Bode George, Joshua Dariye, Lucky Igbinedion, Patricia Etteh and so many other numerous to remember.
The businessmen? Peter Ololo, Erastus Akingbola, Bartholomew Ebong, Okey Nwosu, Cecilia Ibru, Sebastian Adigwe, Bunmi Oni and Aliko Dangote are as guilty as their political counterparts.
The white-elephant projects? TINAPA, The National Stadium and the Sunboat Yacht are examples. Who remembers when the Abacha’s were being prosecuted for the millions they stole? I’m sure you do. Is it only me that finds it nauseating that Abacha’s son has the desire to become the next Governor of Kano state? I’m sure it isn’t. I would be happy if the backlash from the press would make him suspend this ambition
This is where my grudge with the Nigerian press comes in. When these pieces of Information were broken to the Nigerian press they were the talk of town. Everyone in the barbershops, hair saloons and beer parlours was talking. The Nigerian press made sure we did not hear any other word again. It is normal that as time passes the impact of these scandals on the polity would decrease. But when there is need to resurrect these topics the Nigerian press fails in this aspect. Every year one top dog spends Christmas in prison for corruption. The papers always cover the development giving these happenings the utmost attention.
Time will pass and these men of dishonour are released on bail. The cases then disappear from the spotlight and these erstwhile prisoners strut around town with the latest technology devices and cars acting like Lords of the manor.
The press can play the most significant role in ensuring that these people are made to face the music. By reminding us of the misdeeds of our High and Mighty they are putting a form of pressure on the Judiciary that would make it satisfy its obligations to the citizenry. It would also put the country in the spotlight as the foreigners who our leaders are quick to embrace at diplomatic activities would have a true reflection of the going–ons in this ticking bomb of a country. I speak for the 120 million Nigerians when I say we are tired of seeing some big man who has been caught doing dodgy business coming down from a Black Maria on the front page of the newspapers and seeing the same big man in the same newspapers six months later at some party having fun with his misdeed forgotten. If you work hard you should enjoy the fruit of your labour, if you commit crimes you should go to jail. End of Story (O ti tan as the Yoruba would say)
James Ibori is wanted by the Metropolitan Police. The man is probably the greatest enigma of our time. The press should take a leaf from the British newspaper The Daily Mail who on its front page of the 14th February1997 labeled all five suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence "murderers", challenging them to sue the newspaper for libel if they were wrong. The headline read "Murderers: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us." Till today the men are yet to sue suggesting guilty conscience. Do not take this article as a swipe at the entire Nigerian press as some institutions are actually doing a good job in trying to stem this trend. It is not like we are in Italy where the majority of the press is owned and controlled by the Prime Minister.It is time for the Nigerian press to stand up and be counted.