The collective of Journalists in Nigeria was dealt a firm slap to the face last week when the proverbial ‘high and mighty’ sent the watchdog cowering into apologetic fear for sniffing in mysterious waters.
By now the topic must have been so overflogged that the Crux of this article has already been spotted from a mile away, but for keen-eyed observers, the watchdog has been put back on the veterinarian’s operating table.
A former Minister of aviation, recently assembled a team of reporters to tell a story he wanted out in the media for the masses to consume, but when a bold reporter inferred a question that may have provided what the masses ‘needed’, the good former Minister chose to launch a direct attack at the bemused reporter to the full glare of the world.
One may wonder why I decided to refer to the gentleman as former Minister instead of his full names; the reason isn’t far-fetched as like I stated earlier, the issue must have been overflogged by now, but it also helps you question our democracy. If a former public office holder does not understand the simple concepts of Press duties, why engage them in the first place? Why refer to Donald Trump and Olusegun Obasanjo if you do not equate yourself to the level of public office holder?
I say unapologetically that the Nigerian Press was collectively silenced when not one person defended the ”who is bankrolling you” question on the spot, but offered an apology because afterall, ”do you know who I am?”
The watchdog was told boldly that it had to have been paid to perform its duties because it wasn’t ”the style of Daily Trust” to sniff but sit and swallow whatever is served on the dog bowl for consumption.
Commendably there have been efforts by affected stakeholders to redeem the image of the wounded watchdog, but damage had already been done to the ego of the ”small-minded” and ”stupid” watchdog.
Instead of joining to flog the bush, how about we take a long hard look in the mirror to weed the parlour dogs and disenchanted watchdogs from the kernel.
So I ask, Nigerian Journalist, who is bankrolling you?
Has the colour of the famous envelope blurred the vision of the highly intelligent animal, or does the smell of printed paper affect the functionality of sniffers?
While fingers swing in all directions in blame, the issue of structural cracks continue to linger. The average Journalist is comfortable with telling the average story and not having to fan the fires aggressively for fear of the bitter end of dividends of Nigeria’s democracy.
More and more Journalists live off the numbers that slide across a table after an event while a backlog of unpaid ‘pedigry’ piles up, difficult to forfeit as there is another dog willing to sit and have it pile – so much for dog eat dog.
What we have today is a case of Journalists metamorphosing into Public Relations experts to push a suitable narrative for the highest bidder.
But I hear my colleagues murmuring at this juncture, pointing to their faces and telling me clearly, ”they don’t try that with me, look at me clearly.”
Whatever your conclusion is at this point, the fourth estate of the realm has got to start living up to its billing or come out to tell the waiting public what it needs to know.
So, Nigerian Journalists, tough pill – who is bankrolling you?
Daniel Ojukwu is an investigative reporter and social critic with over three years journalistic practice with Newspapers, Online Media and Public Relations outfits.