The dominance of Federal Government activities within the media space at the detriment of subnational issues has been blamed on Nigeria’s worrying underdevelopment. Olaide Oladayo, Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation Africa Office, made this assertion at the 14th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series held Wednesday 13 July 2022 while representing Kole Shettima, Director of the Foundation’s Africa Office.
According to Oladayo, “Between 50 and 52 percent of annual spending in Nigeria goes to the state and local governments.” He said the failure to pay serious attention to where the bulk of annual spending goes is partly responsible for glaring deficiencies at state and local government levels.
He blamed the subnational media blackouts on despotic rules by regulatory bodies, highly politicised governance culture, the complexity of the Nigerian Federal space, widespread insecurity, and impunity at the federal, state and local levels.
Oladayo stressed that because of funding challenges by media houses, most fail to hold the government accountable as many dangerously depend on state patronage for funding. “Since Nigeria returned to democracy, practically every politician wants to have a media license. So, there is an intentional but gradual process of capturing the media space”, Oladayo said.
“We equally have a deeply unaccountable political class. Related to that is a significantly compromised and weak official public oversight and regulatory bodies at federal, state and local government levels”, he added.
Dayo maintained that the overbearing regulations often force journalists into self-censorship and impede the media from performing its oversight function of holding elected officers accountable. He recommended that regulatory bodies need to rediscover themselves not only to regulate but also put in place policies that enable the media to play its civic education role.
“They must shift from punitive and controlling mindset to one that is more partnership oriented to enable the media play the civic education role as a platform for educating the public and creating democrats”.