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Democracy @ 20: High hopes as Buhari, Govs Take Oath of Office

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Democracy @ 20: High hopes as Buhari, Govs take oath of office
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By: Jude Opara

Nigerians are expecting a better delivery of democracy dividends, as President Muhammadu Buhari and 29 state governors take oath of office on a day Nigeria is marking is 20 years of democracy.

On May 29, 1999, Nigeria returned to constitutional democracy after a tedious military administration which had seized power and disrupted democratic institutions.

Before now, the country was having an interchange between the military and the civilians in the quest to administer the country.

In 1993 the country had an election that was generally adjudged as the most peaceful before and it was presumed to have been won by philanthropist and businessman, Moshood Abiola. But the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election.

The heat generated by that annulment was one of the reasons Babangida who had always shifted the goalpost of the handover date quickly inaugurated an interim government headed by Ernest Shonekan in August 1993.

Just three months after, Shonekan whose government was powerless announced his resignation after the then Army Chief, Gen. Sani Abacha allegedly forced him to do so.

During the reign of Abacha from 1993 till his death in 1998, the country was under the stranglehold of one of her most brutal juntas. The ruthless General also incarcerated Abiola.

However, it was a new turn after the maximum leader died in 1998 and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar who took over gave a promise to return the country to a democratic rule in 1999. This promise he kept.

To kick start his transition programme, Abubakar registered three political parties which were, Alliance for Democracy (AD), All Peoples Party (APP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which gave birth to democratic governance in 1999.

So, the current democratic experience which is the longest uninterrupted so far began effectively when the mantle of leadership was handed over to President Olusegun Obasanjo by Gen. Abubakar.

It is our sincere hope and desire that the military boys have returned to their barracks for good.

So, 20 years after, we want to evaluate how the journey has been so far. The PDP took the first shot and ruled the country for 16 years before they were defeated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.

The government started by purging the military when President Obasanjo retired all military officers who have been exposed to political offices. This indeed terminated the career of a generation of military officers; some of them were the finest at that time.

One intractable problem that has bedeviled Nigeria from inception is corruption. The government began a fight against the monster by establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

Like every new broom, these agencies appeared to have been effective at the beginning until somehow they became the instrument of harassment and suppression of real and imaginary enemies of the government.

There was this hope of a new horizon when the country returned to constitutional democracy despite the fact that the president at that time was a retired military dictator himself. Nigerians had hoped that there will be a reversal of their dwindling economic fortunes, but 20 years down the line the standard of living has even continued in a downward slide.

The Obasanjo administration made some efforts in returning Nigeria as a global citizen with her involvement in many international treaties and conventions. His government also negotiated with the international donor agencies like the World Bank, the Paris Club as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to offset the nation’s debts.

In the area of infrastructure, there were a lot of contracts awarded for the construction of roads and other projects but they were given out at highly outrageous rates with jobs delivered not commensurate with the money paid.

For instance, the construction of the Abuja National Stadium is said to have cost the country a huge fortune which if properly managed could have delivered three of the same quality project

In the electoral system the story has not been any different. Politicians were ready to do anything to win elections. Imposition of candidates and ballot box stuffing were and are still the order of the day.

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During the PDP era, impunity was taken to a rather ridiculous level to the extent that the godfathers can give the party ticket to anybody they like whether such a person won the primary election or not.

The mantra then was do whatever you could to be declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), then the judiciary will be the next bus stop. The manipulation of the judiciary was the order of the day as in most instances, cases were delivered to the highest bidder.

In 2007, Nigeria conducted yet another election and shortly after his inauguration, late former President Umaru ‘Yar Adua had accepted that the process that led to his victory was faulty and he promised to do something about it.

Certainly, he did by setting up the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reforms Committee. That Committee recommended for electoral reforms aimed at giving INEC more latitude to organize free and fair elections across the country.

However, midway into his administration, President ‘Yar Adua died and his deputy Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in.

In 2011, President Jonathan campaigned and won election defeating current President Muhammadu Buhari. Then he ran a campaign based on the fact that he was from a poor background, many people bought into his story believing he will make things easier for everybody given his background.

But his government was largely criticized because of the high rate of corruption. Many people at the corridors of power easily helped themselves from the public purse.

The issue of the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram in the North East also took a dangerous turn as bomb explosions were happening just in days even in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

All these and many more real and imaginary reasons were capitalized on by the civil society organizations and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which was an amalgam of some political parties for the sole purpose of capturing power to run down the government.

For instance, in 2012, the government attempted to increase the pump price to N140 naira to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy, the CSOs and the opposition party took to the street to protest. They claimed that there was nothing like subsidy, describing it as a scam. The Jonathan administration buckled and returned the price to N87 naira.

So, in 2015, many analysts were not surprised when the incumbent president was defeated by his challenger. This is because a lot of people had had the notion that the country needed a change and the person of President Buhari well fitted in.

President Jonathan, who had always said his ambition never worth the blood of any Nigerian, equally surprised many especially his party members when he put a call across to Buhari to concede defeat. That singular action also saved the country a lot of stress because the tension in the country was at a fever high pitch.

Many analysts believed that the APC never believed that the former president was going to hands off so easily, so they were alleged to have prepared their supporters for a wild protest which may have turned violent.

President Buhari mounted the saddle with a lot of promise and the people in turn were also not in short supply of expectations and hope. The government during their electioneering campaign had promised a lot of things including payment of N5,000 monthly to all unemployed Nigerians, reduction of the exchange rate from a naira to a dollar, reduction of the pump price from N87 naira to about N45 naira, ending the Boko Haram madness within the first three months and many more.

But four years after, many Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of the government. Most of the promises have at best remained promises. In fact, some have been out rightly denied.

The exchange rate is now N360 to $1 dollar, the pump price instead of selling at N87 is now N145 naira.

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While some of the abducted Chibok girls have been released, over a 100 others are still in captivity, just like Leah Sharibu of Dapchi school who was among the other set of school girls abducted under the watch of this present government is still in captivity after the freedom of her colleagues was negotiated.

The country has not fared better in any way including in the security situation because while we will agree that Boko haram has been pushed to Bornu state, other dare devil organizations have commenced the business of mass killings and wanton destruction of property. Today the killer herders and armed bandits are freely on the rampage, killing and abducting people with little or no hindrance.

The government seems to have lost ideas of what to do and perhaps that is why the clamour for at least the change of the service chiefs has been ignored. Today all over the country, people are living in fears and some ethnic nationalities have started threatening of defending themselves from any external aggression.

The mass killings by the herders in Benue state last year with one incident resulting to the mass burial of over 77 bodies will linger for a long time in the minds of Nigerians.

The country is today more divided unfortunately along the two dangerous lines of religion and ethnicity. This government may have inadvertently contributed to this by its actions and utterances earlier in their regime. For instance, shortly after his inauguration in 2015, President Buhari in an interview told a foreign television that he will not treat those who allegedly gave him 97% and 5% equally. While those who believe he was right rose to support him, those who differed said it was unnecessary for a sitting president to so classify his own people.

Suffice it to add that the government must be seen to be fair to all manners of Nigerians irrespective of their creed, ethnicity and orientation. The idea of treating some people with kid gloves while others are given the sucker punch will not help us. One can easily remember the seeming pat on back to the Arewa youths who audaciously gave Igbos living in the North a quit notice as well as the activities of the killer herdsmen are being justified by the body language of the government, while the secessionists Indigenous People of Biafra who are only carrying flags were quickly branded as terrorists.

Unemployment and hardship are now bedmates of most Nigerians and the ugly result is the high rate of suicide among the citizens at all levels and strata. Many people are confused and ready to take any rash action at the slightest provocation.

So as the President takes his second and final oath of office, he should begin to think of how to solve of some of these problems especially those that bother on national security and the standard of living.

The Social Investment Programme (SIP) which the administration launched before the 2019 elections has been variously described as a failure as little or no impact have been felt of the hundreds of billions of naira budgeted for that. No other personality than the First Lady, Aisha Buhari only this week cried out that the programme has failed especially in the Northern Nigeria.

The Buhari administration and the 8th National Assembly had at best functioned in a cat and mouse relationship with accusations and counter accusations of sabotage every now and then. It came to a head last year when the men of the Department of State services (DSS) sealed off the assembly, locking legislators, staff and visitors out.

Despite the fact that both the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were members of the APC by the time they were elected, the leadership of the party did not welcome them and hence the barrage of attacks and court cases that followed. This also forced the duo to decamp to the PDP later on.

The incident which happened when the President was away on medical trip hugely embarrassed the country as the local and international channels beamed the development live. The then Director General of the DSS, Mamman Daura was forced to resign as an aftermath of the power play that emanated from that inglorious outing.

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The government should this time try to operate in harmony with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly. We also hope they succeed in getting their preferred candidates, Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila elected as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively.

The President has promised to change his style; we hope the change will be a positive one. To start with, immediately after the inauguration today, we expect to see the list of ministers as soon as the 9th Assembly is inaugurated in June. Nigerians will not accept the long wait of six months it took before the out gone ministers were appointed.

As a leader, the President should also devise other ways of getting information of the real situation in the country because it appears that most of the people around him only tell him things that will make him believe that all is well.

Importantly, President Buhari has said he believes Nigeria needs to practice True Federalism; it is expected that he puts flesh to the skeleton of the verbal pronouncement by initiating a bill to the National Assembly to make the necessary constitutional amendments.

I have said it severally that without True Federalism Nigeria will not likely improve on her development. This is because the unitary system we are operating at the moment is not helping us. At best what we are doing is motion without movement.

We must practically move away from the mono economy we are operating. Oil alone cannot continue to carry the country while elsewhere in Zamfara people are freely mining gold and the government looks the other way. Nigeria must allow each component unit or state to operate a level of autonomy that will help them take certain responsibilities.

Finally, the APC as the government in power must begin to drive some of the changes, they promised Nigerians in 2015, this the President is expected to champion because what has happened so far is a far cry from what was promised.

For example, the level of impunity exhibited by the APC in the last general elections must have even dwarfed whatever the PDP did on the scale of infamy. Today the ruling party has lost all elective positions in Rivers and Zamfara States including the national and state seats because they simply failed to adhere to their own guidelines.

The report of the Uwais Commission which recommended that the chairman of INEC and other board members should be appointed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) instead of the president.

Today it is the president that usually appoints the Chairman, the National Commissioners as well as the Resident Electoral Commissioners of the commission. INEC as presently constituted will most likely continue to do the bidding of politicians especially the ruling party and the appointing president.

An example is due to the ease of manipulation by any sitting government; in 2001 it did not take the then government of President Obasanjo to get the amendment of the Electoral Act ahead of the 2003 elections. Prior to this time, the presidential and national assembly elections used to come last but it was changed to be the first to be conducted.

Indeed, that change was selfish because the president and the members of the national assembly reasoned that if the state governors should win their election first, they may truncate their own election.

President Buhari can and still has the opportunity to write his name in gold by using the last four years which starts today to conscientiously move Nigeria forward.

He should look for competent and quality men and women to man the ministries and not necessarily party men who may add little or nothing to the growth of the nation.

FEATURES

The World is Burning; We Need  Renewables Revolution

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By António Guterres

As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security. When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns.

The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

Nero was famously accused of fiddling while Rome burned. Today, some leaders are doing worse. They are throwing fuel on the fire. Literally. As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels – pouring billions of dollars more into coal, oil and gas that are driving our deepening climate emergency.

Meanwhile, all the climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unlivable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet. Our world faces climate chaos. New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. Fossil fuels are not the answer, nor will they ever be. We can see the damage that we are doing to the planet and our societies. It is in the news every day, and no one is immune.

Fossil fuels are the cause of the climate crisis. Renewable energy is the answer – to limit climate disruption and boost energy security. Had we invested earlier and massively in renewable energy, we would not find ourselves, once again, at the mercy of unstable fossil fuel markets. Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century. But the battle for a rapid and just energy transition is not being fought on a level field. Investors are still backing fossil fuels, and governments still hand out billions in subsidies for coal, oil and gas – some $11 million every minute.

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There is a word for favouring short-term relief over long-term well-being. Addiction. We are still addicted to fossil fuels. For the health of our societies and planet, we need to quit. Now. The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

…we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer. Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for the components and raw materials of renewable energy technologies.

To that end, I have called on the G20 governments to dismantle the coal infrastructure, with a full phase-out by 2030 for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and 2040 for all others. I have urged financial actors to abandon fossil fuel finance and invest in renewable energy. And I have proposed a five-point plan to boost renewable energy round the world.

First, we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer. Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for the components and raw materials of renewable energy technologies.

In 2020, the world installed five gigawatts of battery storage. We need 600 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2030. Clearly, we need a global coalition to get there. Shipping bottlenecks and supply-chain constraints, as well as higher costs for lithium and other battery metals, are hurting the deployment of such technologies and materials, just as we need them most.

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Third, we must cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. We need to fast-track approvals and put in more efforts to modernise electricity grids. In the European Union, it takes eight years to approve a wind farm, and 10 years in the United States. In the Republic of Korea, onshore wind projects need 22 permits from eight different ministries.

Fourth, the world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to a sustainable future.

And fifth, we need to triple investments in renewables. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks. All must step up and dramatically boost investments in renewables.

There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time. The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade. The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.

We need more urgency from all global leaders. We are already perilously close to hitting the 1.5°C limit that science tells us is the maximum level of warming to avoid the worst climate impacts. To keep 1.5 alive, we must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by mid-century. But current national commitments will lead to an increase of almost 14 per cent this decade. That spells catastrophe.

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The answer lies in renewables – for climate action, for energy security, and for providing clean electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who currently lack it. Renewables are a triple win.

There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time. The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade. The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.

Of course, renewables are not the only answer to the climate crisis. Nature-based solutions, such as reversing deforestation and land degradation, are essential. So too are efforts to promote energy efficiency. But a rapid renewable energy transition must be our ambition.

As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security. When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns.

António Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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OPINION

The Cost of Living Crisis has a Global Toll

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By Garba Shehu

Last week,  thousands marched in the streets of London to protest the soaring cost of living in Britain and demand the government do more. The story was the same in Italy, in Israel, in Australia, in Germany – where workers are on strike, demanding the government ‘Stop the Inflation Monster’.

Nigeria is no exception.

As the horrors of Covid-19 started to recede, our globally connected world has been hit with a new pandemic: the cost-of-living crisis. The price of staples such as cooking oil and maize flour is rising sharply at a time of heightened global demand and increased shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine; the effects of drought and flooding; and the sky-high costs of fuel and energy.

Inflation is surging in countries around the world, from the United States, where the US Central Bank is determined to bring prices down but warns that goal ‘depends on factors we don’t control’; to India, where inflation is having a disastrous effect on the tiny budgets of families already on the breadline as they seek to recover from the economic effects of Covid as well as the recent record-breaking heatwave.

India, producer of a third of the world’s wheat supplies, has had to block exports in the face of domestic food shortages.

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Australia has seen rising fuel, energy and food prices after recent floods ruined crops and the price of fertilizer rose 120% since 2020. A bleak winter is on the horizon for them as power prices soar and increase inflationary pressure.

In the Philippines, workers can no longer afford the fuel to get to work and steep food prices mean many are going hungry.

In the United States, businesses and consumers tell the same stories – pandemic-related supply shortages, rising gas prices and soaring demand have collided with the impact of the war on Ukraine and weather-related issues to create a real crisis for the ordinary man.

The pain suffered by people here today is not local to Nigeria, it is a pain suffered by all people across the world whether their governments are left or right, democracies like ours or dictatorships, whether they are the world’s richest economy or one of the poorest. Citizens of the world are struggling today to pay for the bare essentials as we rebound from the humanitarian and economic devastation of the pandemic.

This global systems failure is hard for the average man, or woman, in the street to grasp. As they struggle to feed their children, put fuel in their car, keep their businesses solvent and their hopes and dreams on track, it is easy to look to local government leaders as the cause of their pain and anger and seek to blame them for the current situation.

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However, just as no country was immune to the coronavirus, in the 21st century, no country is immune to this new global cost-of-living pandemic.

Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism, as the world came together to defeat Covid, so we will come together to forge a way out of the current crisis, through cooperation with our close neighbours, with the Commonwealth and the newly strengthened allegiances with our traditional western allies and international partners.

But resolution also depends on strong actions at home: Nigeria’s ambitious infrastructure developments will help set the country on strong foundations for sustainable and equitable growth. We have faced international criticism in recent years for our focus on boosting domestic manufacturing and production. Yet today, all countries are thinking again about the importance of their energy and food independence and security.

Nigerian initiatives to protect our farmers against unfair competition from subsidized imports have boosted our rice production to the point where imports are near zero. And more is still to be achieved. We still struggle against the protectionist policies of blocs such as the European Union which undermine Africa’s self-sufficiency – but the EU, as they close the door on Putin’s Russian gas, will need to step up and end their hypocrisy on green energy policy. Africa’s abundant energy resources offer a clear solution: with UK and EU investment, our planned 4,000 km pipeline will bring Nigerian gas to Europe.

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Here at home, we have recently voted through a bill that will allow state governments to generate and transmit their own electricity. We are also decentralizing the national grid through renewable driven mini-grids.

Despite calls from the IMF and World Bank to remove the fuel subsidy, Nigeria has resisted a move that would double the price for citizens overnight with untenable human consequences. Instead, a focus in boosting our refinery capacity will ramp up in the next 24 months as new companies come on board.

These upticks in domestic food and fuel production will both help diminish the threat of inflation, and our transport infrastructure developments in road and rail will alleviate many of the difficulties of food distribution.

The coming months will be hard – for the world not just Nigeria – as the cost-of-living crisis exacts a global toll.

Garba Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

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OPINION

The Birthplace of Disunity

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By Richard Ikiebe

The genesis of organised politics in Nigeria is steeped in and the direct result of press agitation. At every stage in the evolution of the Nigerian state, the role of the media has been prominent. Very early in organised politics in Nigeria, newspapers took the front row positions of influence. Erudite media historian, Alfred Omu, tells us that the publisher of the Weekly Record, Thomas Jackson and Herbert Macaulay, publisher of Lagos News were the initiators and promoters of the first and most prominent political party – the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 enabled organised electoral politics; as a result, the NNDP was formed, and two new newspapers, the Nigerian Spectator and the Nigerian Advocate emerged, purposely as what Omu called, “electioneering newspapers”.

Today, after 100 years since the nation’s very first stroppy experiment with elective democracy in 1922, it would not be entirely correct to say nothing much has changed.

We have gone from tolerable experimentation to something far worse: we now have a firmly established pseudo-democratic political culture (the “neither bird nor fish” type), most of it curated through the media by the selfish political elite.

No doubt, the press led in the fight against the British Colonial Government for independence. But as Omu tells us, quite early in the political history of Nigeria, newspapers became “outlets for electoral policies and propaganda”. The Lagos Daily News, for example, became Macaulay’s “stormy mouthpiece”, and for the better part of 25 years, the NNDP and its leader, Macaulay, almost singularly dominated the Nigerian press and political scenes.

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Politicians succeeded in stealthily dragging the media with them into ethno-partisan politics to fight real or imagined political opponents became apparent in the mid-1940s. Later, after the nation’s long romance with militarism, a shadowy political elite also prodded the media to revolt against the military rule; they did it as if with one voice for the return of the country to democracy.

In 1906, Lagos (which became a Colony of Britain in 1861), and Oil River Protectorate with headquarters in Calabar, were joined to become the Southern Protectorate. Eight years later in 1914, the patched work merged the contiguous British colonial Northern and Southern Protectorates – on paper. Thus, Nigeria is a geopolitical construct of the British by fiat through amalgamation in name only.

Professor James Coleman, in his 1958 book on the background to Nigeria’s nationalism stated that the nation was birthed from “Three separate, independent, and uncoordinated forces”. Ever since, the nation has behaved more like cobbled patches of ethnic nationalities, and barely the image of one united nation. As such, forces that fostered geo-political cleavages that would define Nigeria’s political structural contentions should not have surprised anyone; the surprise is that the entities have remained somewhat together, a perpetually unresolved problem.

The press in politics:

The decade between the 1920s and 1940s marked a significant era in the history of the media in Nigeria. Several momentous political occurrences in the period defined the character of the Nigerian media and the nature of her politics, in the period leading to independence. A decade and a half earlier, media power had gradually begun to shift from the old and established elite – descendants of freed slaves – to the emerging young, indigenous, educated elite. What the new leaders lacked by way of experience, said Omu, they made up for in their unbridled zeal and adept use of the press to insistently demand for self-rule. The media of this period began to have a stronger influence on public discourse. Its influence and confidence grew beyond a small circle of the urban elite to include a growing number of ordinary literate Nigerians; it was the beginning of what could have been a populist press.

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It was during this period that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his newspaper, the West African Pilot, arrived from the United States of America by the way of the then Gold Coast (now Ghana) to set a new tone for the press and politics, redefining both. Chief Bola Ige in his political masterpiece said that Azikiwe and the West African Pilot infused the Nigerian press with an American brand of journalism, with vibrancy and colour in style, urgency in tone and assertive language, along with new production techniques.

In Prof. Alfred Omu’s impressive industry study of the early Nigerian press, which spans the first six decades, he called Nigeria’s early press a political press that played a crucial role in “cultural nationalism and in resistance to imperialism”. According to him, this early press “Attracted many people of intellectual competence and quality”, and it “Provided the most distinguished intellectual forum in Nigerian history”. They “Laid a good foundation for the new epoch of nationalism”. Sadly, their brand of promoted nationalism quickly derailed; it benefited the emerging Nigerian nation-state. Their specialty was the promotion of ethnic or regional nationalism, for which the press was a veritable tool.

In the immediate post-independent Nigeria (leading to 1966), true professionalism seemed to have vanished from most newsrooms of press organisations. The few that remained steadfast were torn between serving their ethnic groups or regions and serving the larger nascent nation-state. They were also torn between intersectional conflicts of allegiance: loyalty to the profession or to ethnic politicians who owned and used the press as stepping-stones to national political relevance and prominence.

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According to Dayo Sobowale, the majority “promoted inter-ethnic hatred as well as inter-ethnic distrust and acrimony that eventually led to the collapse of the first republic” And Dare concurs, noting that through crude and overzealous partisanship, journalists transformed opponents of ruling parties into dissidents. Outside the commonly acknowledged but limiting role of the press in agitating for independence, the problem that the press may have contributed in the more fundamental manner to the forging of a dysfunctional post-colonial identity and character that modern Nigerian state currently has.

Dr. Ikiebe, who is the Chairman of the Board of Businessday, is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Pan-Atlantic University, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.

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