By Taiwo Hassan
The ethical dilemma comes in different shades. It ranges from editors and journalists slanting a story to cover real issues by giving prominence to a good side of a story without balance, helping the government and other officials in disinformation propaganda to launder the image of the government, and receiving gratification to downplay news stories. The list is endless.
Ethics is primarily being bound by a moral principle. The journalism profession has come a long way with its embedded moral codes. Many Journalists have lost their lives and other things they hold dear, trying to uphold the ethics of the profession.
Journalists, as a social-actor in society interacting with other actors, must face conflict within these social relations.
An ethical dilemma is a problem where a person has to choose between a moral and an immoral act, either as a survival strategy or pressure to perform in order to achieve organisational objectives. Hence, there must be a clash between professional loyalties and certain interests that may undermine the credibility of journalists. It is a delicate balance that can seriously question objectivity.
As the issue of ethics is very important in the journalism profession in Nigeria, it is also relevant globally. Ethical dilemmas faced by journalists in different parts of the world are increasing and not abating, accentuated by online and citizen journalism that leverage internet-influenced-ICT.
The character of media organisations and journalists is defined clearly during a crisis that pits one nation against another or one section of society against the other.
When media take sides in whatever way, either in war or crisis situation, knowing full well that every word written or spoken by them is a freely-given machete, bullet, bomb and ready-made tool in the hands of war actors to perpetrate further atrocities, the ethical and professional obligation of the media is to provide objective, accurate and balanced reporting during war, conflict or peace-time for people to make informed analysis, influence debate and volunteer their opinion and not for journalists and editors to distort or suppress information for certain motives.
Just like what happened in 2nd World War, where journalists and editors in Germany, Czech and Poland as well as the United States, United Kingdom and France during the 1930s and 1940s not only used the situation to feather their nest but also broke morals codes governing journalism profession to serve as propaganda tools that distorted facts to fan the ember of the war with devastating consequences.
Media taking sides in the reportage of Yemen, Syrian and Russian-Ukrainian conflict abound. Online journalists are also not left out of this charade. Media houses and their journalists from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia demonstrate this.
Using Europe and the US as a typical example, the news angle about the war on VOA, CBS, BBC, DW, and France 24 toe the line of the government. FOX and SKY New in the UK and SKY News-Australia toe another line by apportioning blames, politicizing and criticism of President Vladimir Zelensky for profiting from the war instead of offering solution journalism, giving audience balanced, human-angle and result-oriented reporting that will facilitate relief for children, women and families facing hunger and humanitarian crisis and not reportage skewed to the owner’s interest and political leaning.
Contemporary ethical issues facing reporters and editors today are more complex, profound and devastating due to the power of the internet, smartphones and other digital platforms, which have placed journalism in the hands of ordinary citizens to provide “exclusive news”, “exclusive footage”, or “breaking news” that is not easily confirmed or fact-checked.
Ethical issues facing reporters and editors today globally are aggravated in the developing world, especially Nigeria, where the ethical dilemma facing journalism professionals is so damning.
When journalists are owed salary for months without knowing when it is going to be paid or how they are going to settle their bills, families need to be fed, rent to be paid, and other needs to be taken care of, ethical discipline will definitely take a back-sit. In fact, Nigerian journalists are poorly paid in terms of their total welfare package. Some earn as little as less than $150 a month.
Journalists have found themselves in a difficult situation of balancing the demands of their survival and that of protecting the interest of the society in which they live vis-a-vis adhering to professional ethics.
The question is: how does one expect journalists in this situation not to compromise, not to have a conflict of interests, not to behave unethically or expect him to remember any journalistic ethics or codes, for that matter?
Media houses that cannot pay salary resorts to arm-twisting their staff to look for a sponsor, either individual or organization, who can bankroll a programme in order to get paid from the sponsor’s fees they attract to the station.
It is a shame to see the wide income gap between reporters and their editorial bosses. Some reporters earn as little as N50,000 ($112) a month, and many of them are Master’s degree holders. Apart from getting money from politicians who want favourable reports, the editors have perks they enjoyed.
The killing of late veteran journalist, Dele Giwa, publisher of Tell Magazine, through a letter bomb for upholding journalism ethics by refusing to compromise on what he uncovered through his investigation on the Military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida reportedly caused his assassination.
The journalism profession is guided by truth and accuracy, independence, fairness and impartiality, humanity and accountability, objectivity, credibility and facts. But, who wants to die upholding any journalism ethics when his life, economic survival and that of his family is at stake, considering the fact that no welfare package is on the ground to take care of one loved-ones when a Journalist passes away, particularly in a country like Nigeria. As it is better imagined than experienced, families left behind by dead or slain journalists are in the best position to tell of the abject poverty they found themselves in following the passing of their breadwinners.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) can hardly do much to help. Many of them have vowed not to ever allow their children to go into the journalism profession again.
Not toeing the line of reticence, I believe ethical dilemmas in journalism can be remedied. Though as I said earlier, an ethical dilemma can be a survival strategy or pressure to perform in order to achieve organisational objectives.
Ethical issues persist globally, just like in Nigeria, as a result of individual, organizational, environmental and societal challenges. It is imperative to empower and equip journalists to prepare for contemporary challenges and ethical dilemmas in the profession in terms of side vocation to break dependency syndrome for bribes to make them less amenable to unethical socio-economic inducements.
Journalists must be adequately remunerated. For Journalists to perform their “constitutional roles and obligations,” journalists must ‘appear-well’ and ‘feed-well’ to ‘work-well’. Wages commensurate with other professions must be paid to journalists to boost their egos as professionals. Opportunities for career advancement and satisfaction should be created for average Journalists and not for editors alone.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Code of Journalism Practice needs to be reviewed to recognise socio-economic circumstances journalists find themselves in the line of duty so as to have a living code that is able to take cognizance of journalists’ survival strategy or work performance pressures as well as serves as checks on the excesses of journalists.
The remedy is also to have NUJ, which presently doubles as a trade union and professional body, be solely professional body while a new body under NUJ would be a trade union arm fighting for the rights of journalists as regards the condition of service, salary payment etc. to take care of socio-economic induced-ethical dilemma faced by journalists in tandem with “International Federation of Journalists” (IFJ) collective actions to support journalists to fight for fair pay, decent working conditions and in defence of their labour rights and also, in alignment with what the “Committee to Protect Journalists” does. (an independent, non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and defends journalists’ rights to report news safely without fear of reprisal.
In order not to call the objectivity of journalists to question, media men must stay within the professional ethics of the profession and also know how conflict and crisis stories should be written for online, print and electronic media without running into ethical potholes.
Recognizing national security interest in the prohibition of information regarded as sensitive, offensive or subjudice and not personal interests, Journalists can balance their reportage independently, not relying on press releases, press statements and other information issued by the government but by being professional in their journalistic endeavours.
Taiwo Hassan is from the Federal Ministry of Information, Radio House, Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
2023 Presidency: Using Your Votes to Reconstruct, Reshape Nigeria
By Michael Owhoko, PhD
As Nigerians file out to elect a new president on February 25, it is imperative to remind electorates that a country’s future and destiny are shaped by the choice of personality they elect as president. Entrusting a country’s leadership and resources to someone with impaired vision and dubious national disposition will be a tragedy.
In context, the Nigerian President is one of the most powerful in the world, given the scope of responsibilities and powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. With 68 items on the exclusive list and mere 12 items on the concurrent list of the constitution, the destiny and future of Nigerians are in the hands of one man – the president.
Since man is a product of his thought process, the president’s style of administration will be conditioned by his character. This means that the well-being of citizens, prosperity and wheels of development of Nigeria are contingent upon the demeanour and capacity of the president.
A president with integrity and a clear national vision devoid of materialism and ethnic prejudice can change a country, as we saw in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew. The choice of Nigerian voters should be premised on this standard. Nigeria cannot afford to entrust its leadership and resources to a colourless personality to determine its destiny.
Nigeria requires a president that is capable of steering the country away from tragedy to optimism. Prosperous nations are not configured from heaven. They are products of the selflessness and commitment of those in leadership. Electing a person without vision, capacity, integrity and empathy as president will amount to sacrificing the collective well-being of the people on the altar of incompetence.
Therefore, as you vote for the president of your choice, let Nigeria’s overall national interest guide your decision. Your personal survival depends on it. Do not allow ethnicity, religion, emotions and primordial sentiments to influence your choice. A wrong choice at this critical period of Nigeria’s democratic journey will mean further erosion of citizens’ dignity, both at home and abroad.
Incompetence, ethnic nationalism, nepotism and greed, as evident in poor management of the economy, insecurity and corruption, are factors that have kept the country prostrate. These elements are responsible for leadership failure, stunted growth, and poverty in the country. It is, therefore, critical to vote for a candidate with the requisite capacity to deliver on the aspirations of Nigerians. Failure to do this will mean no lessons have been learned from the current widespread hardship.
As a voter, ask yourself this honest question. Has your living condition in the last eight years improved or dipped? Without subterfuge, Nigeria has been on a downward swing in all critical facets of socioeconomic space. This is evident in the increasing number of those falling into the poverty bracket, as reflected in the growing penury rate in Nigeria.
The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), together with its partners, captured this vividly.
According to the survey, 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, out of which 65% of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35% (nearly 47 million) live in the South.
The poor Nigerians under reference here are not politicians but a majority of the voting public. Unfortunately, the hope that Nigeria will get out of this mess soon was dashed by President Muhammadu Buhari when he asserted that he had done his best for the country, even in the face of a growing debt profile, inflation, unemployment, corruption, insecurity and capital flight. This is the mirror image of the country’s leadership capacity.
When this is juxtaposed with the recent report by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on the nation’s debt, then Nigeria is in big trouble. The DMO stated in December 2022, the country’s public debt had reached N44.6 trillion. When viewed against the backdrop of Nigeria’s revenue-to-debt service ratio, which The Economist Intelligence Unit described as the worst in the world, it means that Nigeria is in crisis. With a high debt-service ratio and dwindling revenue, the provision of infrastructure is relegated, compounding the woes of Nigerians.
Voters should, therefore, not repeat the mistake of the past. Those who voted in previous elections based on ethnic and religious lines had no inkling that their fortunes would plummet. Today, many of those voters have been humbled by the poor performance of the economy as depicted by the misery index, particularly inflation which has eaten deep into their pockets. They have become victims of their own decision.
Obviously, the wrong choice of candidates has been unhelpful to the future of this country. Check your conscience and reflect on the number of Nigerians that have lost their lives in the last eight years, either through insecurity or poor management of the economy or suicide.
Also, think about the number of businesses that have closed shop or the growing band of single parenthood resulting from broken marriages. All these have their roots in the poor handling of the nation’s economy.
As part of the consequence, there has been a mass exodus from Nigeria. Voters must note that to “japa” or flee abroad is no solution. Of all those leaving or escaping from the country to seek greener pastures overseas, only less than five per cent achieve their aspirations. Over 90 per cent of these Nigerians struggle to make ends meet, regretting the decision to relocate.
On one of my trips to London a few years back, I went to Kaycee’s Bar, a popular Nigerian joint in Holloway, where Nigerians hang out and where sometimes, Nigeria’s independence celebrations were held. While there, I met two Nigerians at the underground disco section. They begged for money, saying they were trapped and would like to return to Nigeria. I was touched and parted with a few pounds as support. This is just one of the tales and ugly experiences of Nigerians abroad.
Ironically, while the majority of Nigerians are reeling from the excruciating effect of poverty, the president, governors and other elected officials are swimming in affluence with high-quality life made possible by manipulative access to the public treasury, despite managing the economy aground. Politics in Nigeria is the surest way to break out of poverty.
Voters should know that the president and governors do not spend their salaries while in office. Their bills are borne by the government, including feeding at the government’s expense. Even members of their extended families are relocated to the Villa or government house to enjoy these privileges. This cannot happen in advanced democracies. Yet, in midst of this, the average Nigerian toil day and night to stay afloat.
At the last World Cup in Qatar, the President of Liberia, George Weah, watched his son, Timothy, play for the United States of America. It is most unlikely a Nigerian President will allow his son to play football games for fear of injuries. He would rather make his son a billionaire through the award of indirect contracts or presidential favours.
The underpinning motive of politicians is not to serve but to acquire the power to accumulate wealth. Without empathy, they multiply poverty through fiscal indiscipline and extravagance while fraudulently feeding fat on the nation’s resources. This is why voters must liberate themselves from this hopeless life of poverty and frustration caused by leadership greed and bankruptcy.
With 48 million youths out of a total of 93.5 million eligible voters, coupled with the poor, credible leaders can be elected, but politicians exploit their vulnerability, using ethnicity, religion and handouts as inducements to manipulate them. Voters should be reminded that these office seekers would move on to oil their profligate lifestyles, leaving the electorate to suffer the consequences of their choice.
Nigeria has the resources to pull the country out of poverty, but leaders are indifferent. As long as they can access good healthcare and send their children abroad for quality education, they care less about the masses who are left to contend with low-quality education, poor healthcare system, erratic electricity and bad road network.
If the resources of the country are effectively harnessed and deployed, particularly in a restructured political system which is best suitable for a plural society like Nigeria, the country will quickly recover from current economic woes. But leaders with entrenched interests are opposed to this arrangement, preferring the status quo for selfish reasons.
Voters must therefore rise in unison and vote out ethnic bigots and visionless persons without integrity and capacity as president, failing which, they have no other persons to blame but themselves. February 25, 2023, has provided another opportunity, so be resolute and courageous. Vote conscientiously to reconstruct and reshape Nigeria in order to restore its corroded dignity.
Dr Mike Owhoko is a Lagos-based journalist and author. He can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com
The Remittances Route Driving Sub-Saharan Africa’s Financial Inclusion
By Shahebaz Khan
Remittances from overseas workers are a vital source of funds for many families around the world and are an area of payments where, for all parties involved, time is of the essence and every single cent matters.
Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) make up the bulk of receivers of these inflows, representing $605 billion of the total $773 billion of incoming remittances in 2021, according to the World Bank. Thirty LMICs received more than 10% of the GDP in remittances, with eight receiving over a quarter of GDP through these inflows.
However, a lack of access to traditional banking facilities means that cross-border payments can be slow, risky, and expensive.
World Bank data from the second quarter of this year shows that, on average, a $200 remittance costs the sender 6.01%. Cash-funded remittances, traditionally the most expensive means of sending money, are 6.52%, while digital remittances are 4.8%. Meanwhile, when consumers have access to sufficient information, the figure drops to just 3.35%.
The past six years have seen substantial progress in the transition from cash- to digitally initiated and digital end-to-end remittances. In the second quarter of 2016, 93% of remittances worldwide were cash-initiated – six years on; the figure had dropped to 66%, with digital end-to-end and digitally initiated transactions at 13% and 21%, respectively.
By launching two innovative products that make cross-border person-to-person (P2P) payment transactions significantly faster and cheaper, Visa has also introduced sub-Saharan African consumers to a global financial network of billions of users. In the region, Nigeria received the largest sum of remittances, at $19.2 billion, followed by Ghana ($4.5 billion) and Kenya ($3.7 billion) in 2021.
In Kenya, in a first-of-its-kind market solution in Sub-Saharan Africa, Visa has partnered with ABSA Bank Kenya to launch a domestic and cross-border remittance service via the Visa Global network that will allow seamless money transfers and payments to any of the two billion-plus Visa cardholders in over 100 Fast Funds-enabled markets, in near real-time with the complete security and reliability associated with Visa cards.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, meanwhile, it is estimated that in 2021, Congolese citizens received remittances valued at more than $1.33 billion – in an economy where only an estimated 26% of the population is part of the formal financial system.
Since opening an office in Kinshasa earlier this year, Visa has partnered with a range of stakeholders, including the central bank, financial institutions, fintechs, merchants, and mobile operators, to develop the country’s digital payments ecosystem and drive financial inclusion.
With around 650 million mobile phone users, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the fastest-growing economies across the globe and is a leader in the adoption of mobile digital payments, according to the World Bank and African Development Bank. Africans are making frequent transnational payments related to trade, education, and healthcare, among other things, and this service is giving them a powerful, efficient new option for transacting across borders.
Globally, according to the World Bank, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent this year (2022) to reach $630 billion. In an increasingly digital and connected world, consumer demand for fast and convenient access to funds is driving opportunities for cross-border person-to-person remittances.
By building digitally-enabled infrastructure, driving digital enablement, and fostering an open, interoperable, and secure ecosystem, the rewards of remittance innovation on individuals, communities, and businesses can be realized – driving economic growth for everyone, everywhere.
Through our global platform, Visa Direct, we are helping facilitate this growth, powering a global and open money movement ecosystem and aiding financial inclusion.
These innovative new products in Africa are great examples of how Visa is seizing this opportunity by rethinking the traditional way we receive funds, transitioning from ‘pull’ – using a card almost exclusively to withdraw funds – to a ‘push’ model where cardholders can receive payments, as well as make them.
With these products, Visa is not just making the remittance process more efficient but is introducing millions of people to connected, global platforms and accelerating financial and digital inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.
Shahebaz Khan is the Senior Vice-President and Head of New Payment Flows for CEMEA
Wike and his Imminent Endorsement of Tinubu: Cain, Where is Your Brother?
By Okoro Chikaodiri Frank
As Governor Wike, the de facto leader of the G5, has reportedly decided to endorse the candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), one cannot help but evoke the emotions captured in Genesis 4: 9 when God asked Cain, where is your brother?
This emotion and question are understandable, considering the political and fraternal brotherhood between the South-South and South-East and between the Ikwerre in Rivers State and their Igbos from the South-East in particular. A brotherhood that Nyesom Wike benefitted from in his two successful bids for Rivers governorship.
It is paradoxical that Wike, who is still licking the wounds inflicted on him by Aminu Tambuwal’s choice of being his brother’s keeper against a one-sided friendship of convenience with him, will now turn back to betray Obi, whom he himself described as ‘my brother’ when Obi visited him in Rumuepirikom on September 30, 2022. One would think he learnt a thing or two from the May 29, 2022, incident, but alas, he is still indulged in the opium of political rabble-rousing and comedy shows.
What could have made Wike go back to eat his vomit, you may wonder? Simple, hate and avarice. Wike is consumed by his thinly-veiled hatred for an Igbo man and/or his success. The Oyigbo massacre, the Ikokwu saga, his opposition to the zoning of the PDP ticket to the South-East and other clandestine anti-Igbo actions and inactions all betray his emotion and motive towards the Igbos.
Any right-thinking Igboman in Rivers State is not ignorant of the aforementioned actions, and I am sure he has been patiently waiting for the opportunity to tell him that we are aware of his antics.
It is an open secret that Wike has turned himself into the biggest landlord in Port-Harcourt all within the past eight years of his governorship. He might have been dreaming of becoming the “Jagaban of Rivers State” just like his newly found political mentor, Tinubu, who, through whatever means, has allegedly turned Lagos state into his personal estate and is now believed to be going for the jugulars of the economy of our country Nigeria. This quest for ‘jagabanism’ is why he is seeking a tenure extension through his accountant and boy, Simfubara, whom he believes will be pliant enough for him to continue and achieve his aim, God forbid. Rivers people, through the support of their Igbos residents in Rivers, must refuse and resist this agenda.
Wike has done his worst; what next for the Igbo man resident in Rivers State? There must be a concerted effort to marshal out plans to remind and sensitize Rivers people, indigene and non-indigene, that Rivers’ political future is NOT and is bigger than Wike’s political future. As Patrick Obahiagbon will say, “it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf” Rivers people will support and vote en masse for Peter Obi and Labour Party in the presidential election because Obi is by far the best candidate in the race and the candidate that represents fairness and justice without minding Wike and his egoistic endorsement.
Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, the Professionals for Igbo-Excellence that I lead and other Pan Igbo groups must wake up to the task and pay Wike back in his coin by making sure that his stooge is stopped by all means necessary.
We must get ready to defeat his campaign of calumny, which he will deploy against Obi through different means and make Rivers people understand that the N20,000 he pays them monthly is their rightful entitlement and a peanut compared to the billions being allegedly squandered for his failed and failing political venture. On February 25, Rivers people will go ahead and vote for Peter Obi of the Labour Party and “Nothing will happen”.
On March 16, during the gubernatorial election, we will ‘obey’ Wike’s voice and vote for APC candidate, Pastor Tonye Cole, who, in sincerity, is a better candidate by all standards. (Emphasis will be thrown on why we need to vote for Tonye Cole in part 2 of this series.)
God told Cain in Genesis 4:12, “You shall be a wanderer and fugitive on earth”, for daring to go against the wishes of his people, against the principle of fairness and equity, which he deceitfully claimed to be fighting for and for going against Obi’s candidacy which obviously has divine backing, it is now clear that come May 29, 2023, Wike will become a political fugitive in Rivers state and Nigeria and as Cain exclaimed; “my punishment is worse than death”, that will be the political death of Wike and his selfish calculations. He will be looking for visitors in his Rumuepirikom mansion if he isn’t cooling down in the EFCC facility.
By Okoro Chikaodiri Frank, President of Professionals for Igbo-Excellence
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