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Media Practice in Nigeria and Enebeli’s Quest for Professionalism

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Emmanuel Ochonogor Enebeli's Quest for Professionalism

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

Like every new invention which comes with opportunities and challenges, there was a veiled agreement among participants at a recent gathering (annual lecture) in Asaba, the Delta State capital, that with strict adherence to the tripod of ethics, professionalism and quality service in the delivery of journalistic mandate as publishers and purveyors of authentic, credible and verifiable information, media professionals will continue to provide the needed sustainable partnership and collaboration in nation-building as well as support the fundamental needs of the country, and the positive purpose of the elected government if it will not in any way dent/obstruct the media’s primary responsibility to the masses in a democratic society.

The annual lecture, which had as a theme Niger Delta Economy; Building a New Face for the Region, was put together by the Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF) and held on Thursday, October 21, 2021, at the Banquet Hall of Orchid Hotels, Asaba, Delta State.

On that day, at that time and in that place, asides from listening to various speakers underline with enthusiasm the urgent need to build productive collaboration among public and private sectors (governments at all levels/private organisations) as well as civil society groups, geared towards finding lasting/sustainable development and solution to the Niger Delta region challenge, I paid rapt attention to the welcome address by the group’s President, Emmanuel Ochonogor Enebeli.

He was not only apt and emphatic in his speech but he used carefully selected words, properly framed arguments, vivid evidence and emotional match with the audience, to demonstrate that the online news platforms have great power to educate, create new ideas and promote human relations.

But just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so, uncontrolled use of the online platforms serves but to destroy.

From his submissions, it became clear to me just like the generality of the participants that what made the gathering crucial was not its focus on the need to develop a new face of Niger Delta but how well Enebeli’s new awareness could serve the society particularly the media professionals.

As empiricists believe that all our knowledge and understanding of facts must be based upon or derived ultimately from experience, I have likewise given some serious/critical thoughts to issues raised by Enebeli in his address and I have come to an objective conclusion that things had started to change.

More intrinsically, separate from hammering on the imperatives of media excellence/undiluted professionalism by members and the group’s mission and vision which he says simply centres on the tripod of ethics, professionalism and quality service in the delivery of journalistic mandate as publishers and purveyors of authentic, credible and verifiable information, the DOPF boss noted that since inception, the group has brought some professional sanity, especially among their membership where self-censorship has over time been carried out, in the often chaotic, unrestrained offerings of citizens-journalism obtainable in the social media space.

He also divulged the information about the group’s willingness, to, as the nation races towards the 2023 general elections, provide ‘signature practices’ to public office seekers-practice that are memorable, difficult for others to replicate and particularly well suited to their ‘business and political environment’.

The second is closely related to the first but concentrates more on the need for relevant authorities to partner with the media in developing effective, workable and achievable programs/policies that will usher in the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.

To achieve this objective, Enebeli who is also the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, added that one of the group core values is knowing that members have a mission to better the society, and this has placed great scrutiny on their public and private conducts thus ensuring that they (the Group) are constantly conscious of the responsibility that whatever they do, go a long way towards impacting positively or negatively on the state and country.

To further demonstrate that as media professionals and watchdogs of the society, they are competent to carry out their duties as the fourth estate of the realm, that they are not the kinds of dogs with ropes tied around their necks, and so have no freedom of speech and expression, that the fact that they are watchdogs means they know what to do, where they are going, and how to discharge their duties as when due, that their decision and direction should not be dictated by any force or power whatsoever, Enebeli recalled with satisfaction that in their previous annual lectures, the group looked at how the social media and fake news has affected both the development of media practice in Nigeria and the nation as a whole. He told the bewildered gathering that experts were brought from within and outside the state, as resource persons and discussants to examine the theme and sub-topics which had been tailored on how the society has been affected by such practices and proffer the way forward.

This, according to him explains why the group today, looked for a more domestic and localized issue and ongoing debate on the Niger Delta and its development, which is a subject that ignites the nerves of everyone from the region.

He added that the body felt it was time to employ a different approach in addressing the attendant issues which have been identified with reliance on the black substance beneath our region and to look beyond the rhetoric of this substance and chart a new course of economic development for the region.

As to the way forward, he captures it this way; we are very conscious of the fact that oil is a finite and diminishing resource and we are desirous of a region which departs from what presently obtains where everything is centred on oil to one where the wealth is created and developed through other channels, region, where the waterfront will be turned into a clean environment and a source of income and job opportunities. It is also a region where its arable land and other minerals are exploited and processed into an exchangeable wealth.

Jerome-Mario Utomi, the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), wrote from Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com or 08032725374.

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Feature/OPED

Teeth Cleaning for Children and its Significance

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Teeth Cleaning for Children

Teeth cleaning is really substantial, so for children as for adults. Tooth plaque and bacteria can be removed by brushing teeth and avoiding the illnesses of gums and decay of teeth. People should brush their teeth in the morning and in the evening just before falling asleep, that is twice a day.

Parents should teach their children to clean their teeth early in the morning and make teeth cleaning an indispensable part of the list of their daily must-do activities so that this habit will stay with them when they become adults.

From what age, children should start off brushing their teeth?

Commence teeth brushing once the first tooth appears, in general beyond seven months of age. First and foremost, start to apply a mild wet cloth, as well as parents, can try cleaning the teeth using water and a mild toothbrush. Teeth are extremely significant for adults and, notably, for children. Teeth aid babies in speaking and eating, so it is significant to take care of them properly from the first months of life onward. Many children do not allow cleaning their teeth as it is an unpleasant activity for them. In this case, parents are advised to try to entertain the kid with the games on smartphones, for this a vivid instance can be the casino gaming like 22Bet Nigeria. So, as the parents adore much to play, they are able to grab the attention of children by these games and clean their teeth in the meanwhile.

The pickup of the right brush and toothpaste for kids

Children under 18 months only make use of only water during tooth brushing.

From 18 months to 6 years old, apply a toothbrush with a tiny head and mild stubble. Check out the fluoride quantity on the pack of toothpaste, it should be with a low.

Teach your kid the right brushing of teeth

Cheer your children up to be engaged in the process of tooth brushing with pleasure. Support them to adopt this skill and entitle them to brush their teeth on their own. After the age of 8, kids develop the perfect motor ability required for cleaning the tooth. Nevertheless, control over the children is mandatory until parents are assured that the kids are able to succeed in this activity and many others by themselves.

After cleaning, cheer your child up to spit out the toothpaste, rather than to swallow it with water.

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Feature/OPED

Making 2023 General Elections a Rewarding One

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2023 General Elections

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

The central interest of this piece is not to spot leadership faults in Nigeria or proffer solutions to what the present administration is not doing well to salvage the socio-economic well-being of the poor masses. Rather, the present piece is out to perform two separate but related functions.

First, as the nation races towards 2023 general elections, the piece x-rays the volume/strength with which foreign observers have in the past two decades raised strong voices against uncivil antics particularly the thorny transparency challenge that characterized concluded elections in Nigeria and the organized resentment it brought to the nation at the global stage/ exposed the nation to the pangs of sociopolitical challenges that prevent her from enthroning true democracy that ensures a corruption-free society.

Secondly, it is primed and positioned to find both practical and pragmatic ways Nigerians and particularly the present administration can use the forthcoming 2023 general election to correct the nation’s leadership challenge which is gravitating towards becoming a culture.

Aside from the fact that we cannot solve our socio-political challenges with the same thinking we used when we created it, the 2023 electoral project will among other things demand finding nations that have met the electoral challenges that we currently face, how they had tackled it and how successful they had become. We must admit and adopt both structural and mental changes, approaches that impose more discipline than is conventional.

Indeed, we are challenged to develop the world perspective in performing the traditional but universal responsibility which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and election of leaders confers on us, as no individual or nation can live alone and our geographical oneness has to a large extent come into being through modern man scientific ingenuity.

Again, with the amendment of the electoral Act that presently accommodates the electronic transmission of results, one can say that as a nation, we have made some political/electoral gains.

However, to help achieve electoral perfection in the country, there exists also, a study report which provides a link between the factors that impede credible election in Nigeria as well as made far-reaching measures that could pave way for development and orderliness in the nation’s political sphere.

The report was put together by the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), Lagos in partnership with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), and supported by MacArthur Foundation. It has as title; Ethics and Standards in Electoral Process in Nigeria (guiding tools/principles).

Going by the content of the report, an election is said to be credible when it is organized in an atmosphere of peace, devoid of rancour and acrimony. The outcome of such an election must be acceptable to a majority of the electorate and it must be acceptable within the international community.

If elections are to be free and fair, laws designed in that regard must not just exist; they must be operational and be enforced. And the power of freedom of choice conferred on the electorates must be absolute and not questionable.

But contrary to these provisions, since the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, our country has conducted different elections. These elections have many common features and few things differentiate them.

For instance, the elections were all conducted periodically as expected. They were closely monitored by domestic and international observers, and they aroused varied contestations from Nigerian politicians and voters and they were marred by varying degrees of malpractice.

The implication of this finding is that the electoral process in Nigeria is rendered vulnerable to abuse, through massive rigging and other forms of electoral malpractices by political parties- especially by those in power as they seek to manipulate the system to serve their partisan interest.

Elections, which are a critical part of the democratic process, therefore, lose their intrinsic value and become mere means of manipulation to get to power.

This, the study noted, derogates the sanctity of elections as an institutional mechanism for conferring political power on citizens in a democratic dispensation.

As a way forward, it underlined four basic conditions necessary to create an enabling environment for holding free and fair elections. These include; an honest, competent and non-partisan body to administer the election, the knowledge and willingness of the political community to accept basic rules and regulations governing the contest for power, a developed system of political parties and teams of candidates presented to the electorates as alternative choices. And an independent judiciary to interpret electoral laws and settle election disputes.

For transparency and accountability during and after the election, INEC should; be free from any form of financial encumbrance, funding of INEC should henceforth come from the first-line charge. The commission should also be removed from the list of Federal bodies. And, the procedure for the appointment and removal of the INEC chairman and members of the board should be reviewed.

To perform its role effectively as the final arbiter of electoral dispute, and curb the excesses of the politicians, the court must possess both juridical expertise as well as political independence. There should be adequate time between resolution of conflicts and swearing-in of elected officials; section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 should be reviewed such that election tribunal cases are expedited. And finally, the court must resist the political or financial pressure and adhere strictly to the underlying legal grounds in their consideration of injunctions.

Aside from adopting or enforcing provisions requiring aspiring candidates to have been a member of a political party to address a high prevalence of defections before elections which dilutes political party growth and development, political parties should act as a bridge between people and the government and help integrate citizens into the political system. Also, they should inform citizens about politics through socialization and mobilization of voters to ensure that the decisions are made by the people.

While the report stressed that any discussion on democracy without the right to receive and impart information is empty. It, however, regretted that journalism in Nigeria with regard to its constitutional roles is not scientific; adding that Nigerian politicians have always used the media in an unwholesome manner.

To exit this state of affairs, the report urged practitioners to help build enlightened electorates as public enlightenment is a prerequisite for free and fair elections.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, private and state-owned media outlets should strictly enforce, and adhere to regulations on media neutrality and take steps against hate messaging and misinformation in the media. The media should uphold the ethos of providing accurate and factual information to the citizens at all times.

While this is ongoing, the Nigerian Police Force should be guided by,  and conform to the appropriate principles,  rules, codes of ethics, and laws governing police duties especially in relation to crowd control and use of firearms. They should maintain impartiality and eschew partisanship or discrimination between the ruling and non-ruling, big or small.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Feature/OPED

Money, Society, Development and Economics

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By Nneka Okumazie

For some people, all they will ever become is what money can make them.

For them, the power of everything money can do makes everything about money.

They often measure to money and measure for money. They talk for it and ensure it is what is seen about them.

Many of these people have money above all culture in some of the countries the people there have described as unbearable.

In most of these countries, the same reason government does not work is the same thing outsiders are about, bringing the country to a contiguous halt.

Government is all about who can grab for self and interests, around power, resources and money.

This same reason is why many organized crimes exist and several kinds of harmful practices across the private sector.

Money will never develop any country. Though some continue to say money is what is lacking.

Money will never change anything about anyone because if there are real changes at any point, money may have enhanced it but was never cause.

Things that look like changes that money made does not change; they are just more of how money keeps itself important.

For many things done because there was money to do it, they are many times purposeless. There are also others that should be been important, but because money was more important in that project, it also became purposeless.

If in some developing country, someone lives in a nice apartment or drives a cool vehicle, making that individual seem important, the importance of the individual is to whom, and what purpose does it serve, and for what it serves, what does it change, affect or improve?

The comfort that is lived in many of these places is a false peak.

It keeps them there and there is rarely much else to find meaning for.

Money continues to dictate how to be seen to have it, going around in circles, absent of progress, but ensuring participants are unaware.

Money, for what it can, makes people become a sunset. Money stays important using people as tools to itself.

[Ecclesiastes 6:7, All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.]

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