Gentlemen of the media, we are here to call your attention to the need for media practitioners to be professionally disciplined and not give into any temptations to be deployed for political blackmail which will derail the essence of the media as the conscience of the nation.
Section 22 of the 1999 constitution provides that “the press, radio television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
The media is therefore the bridge between the people and the political leaders.
Understandably, we are rights now preparing for the biggest and most important electoral contest in the political annals of Nigeria. So much are at stake.
The contenders are already sharpening their political arsenals to battle and defeat their opponents in a bid to win the hearts and minds of Nigerians.
However, we have just noticed a trend which has to do with the misuse and abuse of the professional ethics of media practice by an online medium reportedly owned and operated by an erstwhile chief press secretary to the former governor of Kano state Alhaji Kwankwaso known as Daily Nigeria.
We have noticed that there is currently an attempt to tarnish the corporate and public image of a politician with the aim of scuttling his second term ambitions.
First, we are one of the most formidable campaigners of transparency, accountability and we therefore support the law based crusade against corruption.
However, we totally condemned the systematic pattern of employing subtle blackmail using the media of mass communication as the tool of political battles.
The story about a certain North West governor of the APC purportedly caught receiving bribe is at best a very poor work of blackmail.
Going through the wishy-washy story will tell the audience that this online medium did a very poor job that fails to meet the ethical standards of best global practices.
The revelation that a video exists without naming the person and again stating that the video would be used to seek the directive of the president to compel the alleged bribe taker to forego his second term election shows that this medium has allowed their good venture to be deployed to wage political battle.
The fears about the political ends to which the media can be put relate to the way the media can be used by political parties to control people.
While totalitarian fascist and communist states of the 1930s inspired these fears, political uses of the media also occur in democratic societies.
It is often argued that there should be controls placed over the media so they are not misused.
Fear that the media may be used for political purposes is one reason why many countries insist that the government should not own and/or control the media; this fear also lies behind many of the debates about who has the right to media ownership.
Note, however that media practitioners often see themselves as political watchdogs, and in this respect are referred to as the ‘fourth estate’.
The term ‘estate’ derives from the time of the French Revolution, when the judiciary, the parliament, and the Church were referred to as the first, second, and third estates respectively.
The media, as the fourth estate, are a body who can comment on, criticize, and investigate, through free speech, what these other institutions do, which is why freedom of the press is so important.
It was, for instance, the media that publicized the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the South African apartheid government. [From the book MEDIA & SOCIETY fourth edition, By MICHAEL O’SHAUGHNESSY & JANE STADLER].
May we strongly urge the media to be thoroughly professional and not let themselves be railroaded into carrying out political vendetta or blackmail.
Why use a story and then allow room for negotiations? If you have a story worth telling and you have no political objective for cooking up such soft tissues of lies, why not go full blast?
This unorthodox way of practicing journalism is the reason some core conservatives who wants the status quo to remain are working had to scuttle media freedoms.
Our investigations on this specific story shows that it is a well-choreographed, politically tainted propaganda aimed at demonizing a prominent politician and to rubbish some of the achievements made.
There is every reason to believe that it is a politically motivated hatchet job which should be dismissed as such.
May we call on all political contenders for political offices to play the game by the rules and desist from the deployment of the online, social or mainstream media to circulate fabrications and inventors aimed at scoring political goals.
The media must be vigilant and work to sustain constitutional democracy.