THE CONCEPT OF CHANGE AND NATION BUILDING BEING TEXT OF A TALK PRESENTED BY
GARBA ABARI, DIRECTOR-GENERAL,
NATIONAL ORIENTATION AGENCY AT THE
66TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BRODCASTING ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA (BON)
HELD AT THE LADI KWALI HALL, SHERATON HOTEL, ABUJA
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2016
THE CONCEPT OF CHANGE: THE MEDIA AND NATION BUILDING
I am delighted to be part of this very important occasion of the 66th General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON). I feel highly honored to have the privilege of addressing this top echelon and other key players in the Broadcast Industry in Nigeria. Let me sincerely congratulate the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, for sustaining this very important forum for constantly engaging in robust conversation on issues of national importance.
The theme of this programme, The Concept of Change: The Media and Nation Building, is both appropriate and apt at this time that the Federal Government is vigorously implementing a comprehensive national value re-orientation programme geared towards building a greater Nigerian nation. It is also a direct recognition of the critical role the media must play in mobilizing Nigerians for positive attitudinal change necessary for the growth and development of our nation.
As an institution of government charged with the responsibility of propagating and promoting values and attitudes germane to national development, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is proud to identify with this programme.
As we are all aware, the mandate and goal of the National Orientation are closely related with those of the mass media. The primary responsibility of the mass media is to inform, educate and entertain the society and by so doing, releases the creative capacities of the citizens for national development.
Similarly, public information dissemination, value re-orientation and attitudinal transformation which are central to the mandate of the National Orientation Agency, have direct implication for national development. In fact, the mission of the Agency is “to consistently raise awareness, provide timely and credible feedback; positively change attitudes, values, and behaviors; accurately and adequately inform; and sufficiently mobilize citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony and national development”. It is therefore clear that the media and the Agency are both instruments of social re-engineering. They both have national development as a goal and public information and education as the means for attaining this goal. It is for this reason that l see the invitation extended to me to speak at this forum as a recognition of the strategic role the media and the National Orientation Agency must play in the task of nation building.
In addressing this topic, l shall attempt a clarification, of the concept of Change and the ongoing Change Begins With Me campaign. I would then share my thoughts on how the Nigerian Media can mobilise our citizens to embrace the desired positive change necessary for national development.
2.0 THE CONCEPT OF CHANGE
Many Nigerians are quite familiar with the word change as the campaign slogan and dominant theme in the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2015 General Election. The agenda to change Nigeria was borne out of the clear conviction that to bring about the Nigeria of our dream, we as citizens, must first change our values, attitudes and orientation. This is because values are the building blocks of national development and no nation can achieve its developmental aspirations unless her citizens embrace and espouse the right values and attitudes.
Like other nations of the world, Nigeria has always had its own set of values which are expected to shape behaviours and drive the process of development. These values, also known as National Ethics are enshrined in chapter two, section 23 of the 1999 constitution (as amended). They include Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self Reliance and Patriotism. These core values were greatly cherished by traditional Nigerian society and they formed the basis for the unity, stability and cohesion of our society. Because our values were right, the generality of our people exhibited positive attitudes of love of neighbor, commitment to hardwork, team and community spirit, love of country, respect for elders and constituted authorities, respect for the sanctity of human life, among others.
Unfortunately, our value system has degenerated over the years. The family institution has collapsed. Community spirit has given way to individualism while indolence has taken the place of hard-work. Merit is now sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity, cronyism and nepotism. Wealth, no matter the source, is now celebrated in place of honesty and integrity. The Nigerian society of today has been greatly ravaged by the seven social evils identified by Mahatma Gandi a long time ago. These evils are:
ü Politics without principles
ü Wealth without work
ü Commerce without morality
ü Pleasure without conscience
ü Pleasure without conscience
ü Education without character
ü Science without humanity
ü Worship without sacrifice.
It is clear that no nation can make any meaningful progress in the face of these social vices arising from negative values and dysfunction attitude. It is against the backdrop of the foregoing that it became imperative to embark on a national re-orientation campaign to restore our lost values as the first step in the process of rebuilding Nigeria.
3.0 THE CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME CAMPAIGN.
While it can be said that this administration ascended into power through the mantra of change, the word change has since transformed from being a campaign slogan into a definite policy of government. This is why it has become necessary to take the gospel of change to all Nigerians for full ownership, irrespective of ethnic, religious or political affiliation. Thus the change begins with me campaign was formally launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 8, 2016, with a charge on all Nigerians to eschew the vices of indiscipline and corruption, idleness, laziness, disregard for law, order and due process that have scuttled our developmental aspiration over the years. It is a clarion call for conscious re-awakening of our collective sense of values and of service to our fatherland.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave indication to the motivation for the campaign when he stated during the launch, that it is part of the determination of this administration “to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that we all can be proud of”.
It is therefore clear that the campaign is a charge on all Nigerians, both young and old, the leaders and the led, the poor and the rich, to do the right thing at all time. This point is particularly important because the tendency has been for some Nigerians to see change as involving only the political leadership and the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people. While the pervasive yearning for change in the material conditions of life of our citizens is both legitimate and justified owing to the deplorable social condition of an average Nigeria arising from decades of bad leadership and unbridled corruption, the change we need cannot come about overnight. It is only when we all are willing to change from our old and negative ways and work together as one people with common purpose, that we can harness our individual and collective potentials for national development. This is why we must join hands with government in the effort to curb corruption, combat insecurity, create jobs, alleviate poverty, fix power and other critical infrastructure and reposition our nation for accelerated growth and development.
4.0 THE MEDIA, THE CHANGE AGENDA AND THE TASK OF NATION BUILDING
The Media has a critical role to play in galvanizing Nigerians towards embracing positive change and committing themselves fully to the task of nation building in line with the change agenda of this administration. As the fourth estate of the realm, the media is both the agenda setter and watch-dog of the society.
Agenda setting, within the context of the role of the media in the society, is the creation and sustenance of public awareness and interest on key national issues by putting such issues in the front burner of national discourse and influencing public opinion on them. Accordingly, Nigerians could be more conscious of the necessity for change and become change agents, if the media continuously saturate the social space with appropriate messages through news reporting, editorials, commentaries and special features.
As the watch-dog of the society, the media has a public duty of monitoring the process of governance, holding public officers accountable, exposing all forms of social vices, while celebrating honour, integrity and the best of Nigeria. The media professional is a change agent who is expected to be in the vanguard of the fight for social justice, peace, stability and cohesion, necessary for nation building.
Historically, the Nigeria media has been in the fore front of national development over the years. The media played a pivotal role in the struggle for the attainment of political independence of Nigeria. It also contributed greatly to the fight against dictatorship and the enthronement of constitutional democracy in the country.
Since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic governance, the Nigerian media has remained a pillar of support to the essential tripod of government. Its outstanding role in the evolution of modern Nigeria has earned it the reputation of being the most vibrant in the African continent.
While the Nigeria Media has contributed immensely to the development of the Nigeria nation, it still needs to do alot by the media in sustaining our democracy, fostering national harmony unity, peace and development.
The Media must continue to uphold the professional ethics of accuracy, objectivity, neutrality, fairness, decency and national interest. With the liberalization of the Broadcast Media, the industry has witnessed phenomenal growth, resulting in frequent breach of ethical conducts. In the words of Edithu Ohaja, “unprofessional practices are becoming the norm rather than the exception and many media appear to be leading the citizens in a macabre dance towards shallowness and mutual destruction”.
The consideration of commercial interest over national interest, the overbearing ownership influence, the concentration of attention on personality at the expense of serious national issues and over-sensationalism are some of the unwholesome practices that could impede the role of the media in the process of nation building.
The Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, (BON) the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, the Press Council and other Media Regulatory Agencies in Nigeria must therefore rise to the occasion by ensuring that the Nigeria mass media is not allowed to derail but continues its traditional role in leading the way in the process of nation building. This is food for thought for this General Assembly.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is pertinent to point out that the advent of satellite broadcasting has continued to pose very serious challenge to our traditional cultural values and identity as a people. Our youths are now daily fed by the international media with values that are at variance with our culture. They are being socialized away from the ideals of our cultural values and made to internalize strange and alien cultural traits.
The wearing of body tattoos, dreadlock hairstyle, saggy trousers and the painting of hair have become a vogue among our young men. Innocent people are daily hacked down in our cities as if in scenes of Hollywood movies. Our youths now openly clamour for the legalization of gay marriage and are bold to take this campaign to the hallow chambers of the National Assembly to press for it as a fundamental right!.
The Nigerian society has become a testing ground for all forms of violent crimes disseminated to our youths through a deliberate and sustained programme of indoctrination, by the satellite. The manifestation of this is unprecedented upsurge in ethno-religious militia, insurgency, mindless destruction of national assets and the orgy of killing for pleasure that now pervade our society. As a strong weapon of socialization, the Broadcast Media in Nigeria must evolve strategies towards combating this new forum of cultural imperialism.
The task of nation building can also yield the desired result when the youths are well cultivated and nurtured to share in our cultural ideals and developmental aspirations. Therefore, our youths should not only be made to internalize our core national values and make them operational in their daily life, they must also be constantly galvanized to bring their creative potentials, energy and dynamism to bear in driving the process of nation building.
Finally, given the intricate relationship between the Nigerian Mass Media and the National Orientation Agency, there is the compelling need for greater synergy between these two critical organizations to jointly and collectively lead the agenda for change in the process of rebuilding Nigeria.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has the relevant structure and the platforms for spear-heading the campaign to change Nigeria. We are already fully engaging with Nigerians, using our robust structures and platforms at the national level, the 36 State Directorates and FCT, as well as in all the 774 local government areas across the country. We would continue to rely on the kind support and cooperation of the Nigerian Media as a formidable ally in our effort at sustaining productive engagement with Nigerians on the very important issues of values and nation building.
Thank you very much for listening and God bless Nigeria.
Change begins with me.