The mass media and Ikpeazu's infrastructure revolution
There are three major traditional roles performed by the mass media. They are to inform, educate, and entertain. In carrying out these roles, the mass media attain other ancillary functions such as persuading/influencing the society; socialising, and integrating the society.
Through the persuasion role of the mass media, the masses attune themselves to the programmes and policies of the government to make them a reality. It is one thing to articulate a policy and another thing to carry the masses along. As the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the press take it upon themselves as a social responsibility to explain, interpret and urge action on the part of the masses. Thus, it is only when the press have created the awareness about the necessity and desirability of such governmental policies and programmes that the masses are convinced and persuaded to lend support to them. Persuasion takes the form of constant and consistent efforts to socialise and make people both receptive and responsive to the desirable policies of the state or any other responsible corporate authority.
No project presently demands the deployment of the ancillary roles of the press more than the infrastructure revolution of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.Ikpeazu has kept to his promise of using the dry season window to fix the dilapidated Faulks Road.It will be recalled that Ikpeazu had earlier flagged off the reconstruction of 4.7km Faulks Road with a contract sum of N6.8 billion.This appraoch was tp provide a permanent solution to the strategic road which has defied efforts by the previous government due to the menace of flood.
To achieve this, the contract was awarded to a reputable construction company, Setraco Group. The company is also to oversee the construction of 5.6km underground water channel that will collect water from Ifeobara basin near Ukwu-mango to Aba River.
Ifeobara basin, an artificial lake, collects run off storm water from most part of Aba, especially the Ariaria area. The basin is usually filled with domestic waste, debris, silts and sediments which impedes the underground drains to discharge water whenever there is heavy rain because they are blocked.
Recovering and desilting the basin is strategic to a successful reconstruction of Faulks Road. It has been severally posited in the past that the past administrations failed in their bid to fix Faulks Road because proper attention was never given to Ifeobara basin. Also, Ifeobara is a major contributor to the problems Ukwi- Mango and the flood water along Faulks. Therefore, complimenting the road reconstruction with 5.6km underground water channel would proffer a lasting solution to the lingering problems of both Ukwu- Mango and the flood water along Faulks Road.Recovering and desilting the basin is strategic to a successful reconstruction of Faulks Road. It has been severally posited in the past that the past administrations failed in their bid to fix Faulks Road because proper attention was never given to Ifeobara basin. Also, Ifeobara is a major contributor to the problems Ukwi- Mango and the flood water along Faulks. Therefore, complimenting the road reconstruction with 5.6km underground water channel would proffer a lasting solution to the lingering problems of both Ukwu- Mango and the flood water along Faulks Road.
Faulks Road is very strategic to the commercial life of Aba, the commercial- nerve of Abia State and indeed, the South East.The road begins from Brass Junction by Aba-Owerri Road through Ukwu-mango to Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway. It also serves a major link to Aria ria International Market.
Ariaria International Market which was established in the 1970s, arguably is the largest market East of the Niger. The market cuts across three local government areas of Aba North, Aba South and Osisioma, and countries of West and Central Africa such as Cameroun and Gabon are served by the market. The market is the largest shoemaking cluster in Africa with 85 zones.
The mass media are expected to go beyong the surface of Ikpeazu government’s policies and programmes to explain,where necessary ask questions, to ensure that the public’s support is moblised for such policies and programmes.
Like Anyanwu D.O posited in his book”Editorial: The Voice of the Media”, “the mass media of communication are not mere watchdogs of the society. They are rather active agents that manipulate the minds of men; influence their values and beliefs; shape their views and lifestyles; take them to places or hold them hostage. In other words, the mass media are both agenda setters and opinion moulders.” Therefore, the mass media have enormous role to play in Ikpeazu's infrastructure revolution in Abia State.
Ukegbu, a communication strategist, writes from Umuahia, Abia State.