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Nigerian Media Must Avoid Credibility Suicide

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Remarks By Hon. Oseloka Henry Obaze, MD/CEO Selonnes Consult Ltd. And Immediate-past Secretary to the State Government of Anambra During the Commissioning of the Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna, Legacy Building Housing UNIZIK 94.1 FM Studios & Facilities On Tuesday 20 December, 2016

I am extremely honoured to have been asked to chair this event - the commissioning of the Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna Legacy Building, which houses the UNIZIK 94.1 FM Studios, and facilities. My chairman’s remarks will be brief.

Although the order of protocol is already well established, I would like to acknowledge some of the eminent persons here present: HE Mr. Peter Obi, CON, the immediate-past Governor of our dear state and my former boss.

I salute our Chief host, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, FSS, the Vice Chancellor this great university -- the ranking choice for all incoming students nationally. I salute all our traditional rulers here present, our industrial titan, and major stakeholders.

I thank and congratulate my dear friend and colleague, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna, for her exemplary commitment to promoting qualitative education and mass communication in particular. It is because of her vision and commitment that we are gathered here today.

Prof. Okunna, thank you for your services and for helping create an enabling environment, where students of radio broadcast journalism can hone their skills. We celebrate and share in the joy of the UNIZIK community and the exemplary work you continue to do.

I have publicly noted that the challenges we face as a nation are immense; but that such challenges also offer unique opportunities to our creative and talented youth to excel. Today’s event is significant for two reasons: first, we are here to commission an enduring legacy bequeathed by a communications professional and leader.

Secondly, we are here to showcase to UNIZIK community and the larger Anambra community, their new state of the art radio studio. This legacy project, does not only seek to connect the beneficiary community to the radio; it also gives the community a huge sense of ownership and an avenue to express their unfettered views about society.

The third and a vital point is a pitch for public support of this great institution. UNIZIK is ours, built for us and being run by us. Therefore, we must all seek to add value to this great university by bequeathing legacy projects; as well as structural and academic endowments. Perhaps, it is time for us to have in this university, a Leadership, Policy and Governance Programme that will help anchor our indigenous manpower and draw on the vast knowledge of accomplished public servants, well before it is too late. I hereby throw a challenge to H.E. Gov. Peter Obi, to spearhead such an endeavour.

Let me touch briefly on an issue that is topical, but also vital in modern day journalism and as

such, pertinent to law and order in our society. The Nigerian media is faced with a lot of

challenges with more emerging daily. However, a deeply troubling challenge in Nigerian media

industry, far worse than indolence, or pay-to-write, is the increase in the number of fake news

carried by the media.
Fake news was a rarity in the past, and an aberration, which if it ever occurred was quickly

followed by a corrigendum or retraction. Now, fake sells. Fake news is contrived, often with

malice aforethought and with implicit and explicit purposes. The expansion of the social media

no doubt, continues to underpin the expansion of fake news.

Nonetheless, teachers, practitioners and students of journalism -- be it print of broadcast

journalism -- must remain conscious of a growing scourge of fake news and hate speeches within

mainstream and the social media. Alone or combined, these two variables are divisive and

Accordingly, teachers and students of mass communications like media practitioners must

recommit to combatting the growing rampancy of false news and hate speeches. Despite the

excesses of the social media, those who are true to their vocation, must be accountable and

ensure the veracity of the news they publish or broadcast. In this context, the Nigerian media

must avoid committing credibility suicide related to fabricating and bandying false news.

In an era, when false or fake news and hate speeches hold sway, community radios such as

UNIZK FM, inevitably serve as the medium for truthful journalism. A community radio is and

must remain the conscience of the society and must be seen to connect with the owners, the

individuals that make up its community. In this particular case, UNIZIK FM, as a community

radio, must uphold that guiding tenets of this great institution, namely; Discipline, Self-Reliance

and Excellence.
Ideally, a community radio such as UNIZIK FM is apolitical, accessible to all, developmental

and affordable. A lot of hard work has gone into making UNIZIK FM a niche station. As such,

the management staff and student volunteers that keep this station on the air must be celebrated.

Yes, you have done well; but the work has just begun. You should never take for granted the

scope and reach of a community radio: it has the capacity to do good or to do harm.

Preferably, the community radio should step in to sieve out the untruth, banalities, and clatter and

bring to their community unbiased news and the truth. Such self-regulation or self-censorship is

imperative. As our nation and society experiences increase in hate speech daily, this radio station

must take the lead in rejecting such inclinations. You must act in concert or risk committing

credibility suicide.
In closing, let me finish as I started, by paying tribute once again to Prof. Okunna. I am hardly

surprised by her tenacity. There could hardly be a better way for a Professor of Mass

Communication, to leave an indelible footprint for the succeeding generation, than by erecting a

legacy building for a University radio station. As we celebrate this historic moment, let us pause

for one moment and contemplate what this singular gesture that can’t be repealed portends for

the future. May UNIZIK find and be embraced by many, who will seek to emulate, match and

surpass Prof. Okunna’s great act of altruism. Thank you and God bless.