Chiedo Nwankwor, Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), have described the media as the lifeblood of viable democracy and accelerated development at the state and local government levels, and a tool to hold public office holders accountable. Nwankwor stated this at the 14th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series held virtually on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in commemoration of the 88th birthday of Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.
The university don said viable democracies globally thrive on the existence of unlimited questioning built on an inquisitive media to drive accountability. According to him, accountability motive is at the heart of journalism, and the media sustained pressure for accountability on government often drive transparency and government responsiveness”.
She traced the docility of the media in driving development at the subnational level to the disconnect between its watchdog role and democracy as a tool for development. She advocated that media as a tool to aggregate, articulate and amplify ideas must fairly translate subnational issues into sets and sequences of policies and programmatic imperatives for the government to accelerate development.
“This agenda setting role of the media is crucial, not only for the substantive and active framing of issues, but also the clear role of amplifying people’s voices as they seek to access the dividends of democracy and lay claims on the state”, Nwankwor stated.
She held that failure to address state and local government inadequacies negatively impacts citizens. In her submission, there is an urgent need to turn media attention towards subnational issues with the help of more community radio stations and newspapers. To achieve this, she advised that the counter-productive processes and exorbitant prices of radio and television licenses must be looked into by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
“We need community radios. We need them to offer valuable information. We need to reorient journalism schools to help make this point clear through dynamic media training. There is a need to engage with regulatory institutions to make this possible. The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) must wake up to its responsibilities”, Nwankwor said.