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*Should Nigeria's Media Be Censored Or Is This Tactic To Muzzle Nigerians Even More?
By Chuks U.C. Ukaoma
Dating back to Fredrick Lugard's days, people at the top always desire to keep the masses in the dark while they rebarbatively divide and conquer. Thank goodness, there are always few brave souls who risk it all to fight every insidious “dual mandate”. They creatively use the media to liberate the oppressed and to give voice to the disenfranchised. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of every true democracy.
When the likes of current Nigeria's Senate President Mark David call for heightened media censorship, Nigerian independent website operators should loudly protest. Citizens ought to draw a line in the sand and peacefully declare that the dog is not going to hunt anymore.
Nigerian website operators are today's freedom fighters with battle scares to prove it. They have written and/or published articles that attracted the wrath of the big wigs. Some have used that badge of honor to garner more credibility and popularity.
The pioneering websites are: NigerianVillageSquare.com, NigeriamasterWeb.com, NigeriaWorld.com, ElenduReports.com, SaharaReporters.com, NigerianVoice.com, etc. I hope NigeriansInFrance.com and AfricanUndisguised.com are restored soon. Nigerians should regularly visit each of these websites to show support and to keep them in business. Nigerians need more websites to haunt the do-nothing-good politicians. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Chuks U.C. Ukaoma, Article authorLegendary Fela used his music and fame to fight the power. Likewise, these websites employ their sites as powerful thorns on the side of errant leaders; proving the pen is mightier than the sword. How these people muster enough courage to operate their websites should be studied, commended, and replicated in other aspects of Nigerian society.
The websites perform other societal functions. For example, after reading about a woman with serious sickness, a reader contacted the NigeriaWorld operator. He was prompt in tacking down the news reporter to find the sick woman. A Harvard-trained surgeon Dr. Brian Camazine had volunteered to perform the surgery pro-bono and an anonymous reader had agreed to chip in N400,000 the newspaper article sought to treat the woman. Reporters covering such pleas should include adequate contact information, in case a reader has the wherewithal to assist.
The websites foster training ground for budding writers. Seasoned authors can use the venues to mentor future writers and to showcase their craft. Hats off to prolific Internet writers, such as Rudolf Okonkwo, Peterside Chamberlain, Nasir El-Rufai, Okey Ndibe, Femi Awodele, Femi Ajayi, and others. One does not have to agree with everything writers publish to appreciate their contributions. We need more authors to write about what we need to know, not just what they think we want to read.
My favorite contributors are: Rudolf Okonkwo and Peterside Chamberlain and Nasir El-Rufai. These writers know how to breakdown complex topics so the average reader can understand them. Mr. Okonkwo's pieces are esoterically great; read his articles!. Mallam El-Rufai's articles are often right on; however, the reader needs to know that the Mallam's nursing a political ambition. I miss Mr. Chamberlain's financial articles.
Surviving In Biafra by Alfred Uzokwe is a book one of the sites helped popularize. It's a unique book that narrates that vicious civil war via a child's lens. To obtain a copy of the book, either ask your local library to stock it or buy one.
It's ironic that some Nigerian websites are censoring contributors. Some of the writers think their work became too thorny that some politicians called in censorship favor. While a few others think there are tribal or regional politics being played beneath the surface. Some websites want exclusive right to articles they publish. Then there are personal fall outs that result in writers being banned. Whatever the reason(s), the duties of these websites are too important to allow them to be attenuated.
It's a competitive business but the websites could emulate NigerianVoice and Nigerian Village Square and Sahara Reporters who publish articles without exclusivity requirement. These three sites are progressive and delightful, in deed. Sahara Reporters goes a step further by advertising competing websites. Bravo to NigerianVoice.com! It's a comprehensive website with instant publishing and editing functions.
Unfortunately, a few writers have traded their fame for seats at the fleecing table, once the price is right. These people pen critical articles about the government or politicians but as soon as their bread is buttered, they begin to sing a different tune.
Website owners have their work cut out for them. While they remain the vanguards of Nigerian fledgling democracy, they should have enough courage to broadcast news from their pipelines without fear or favor! Finally, it's up to the readers to collectively let the leaders know they won't stand for media censorship of any kind. That is the essence of a democratic Nigeria.
Chuks U.C. Ukaoma resides in Austin, Texas, USA. Read his other articles on this and Yahoo website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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