Nigeria’s Media: I-Was-Told Journalism

“They say that ,this man, what’s his name, Trump,  is in trouble” ,a man who thinks he follows politics began to teach me yesterday, Thursday. “What happened”?, I asked even as I knew what was coming.
“They want to impeach him”, he declared. “Why”? He didn’t know. And “Who told you that”? “That’s what they said”, he informed me most confidently and very sure that Trump will be impeached. He also told me that the democrats “are very serious about it”. I asked him who the democrats are. “I don’t know. They just told me the man will be impeached “. 
Nigerians know so much that “they” have been told but are woefully uninformed.  And each person goes on at great length to entrench the errors s/he knows because of a harmful “I was-told mentality “. It does so much harm but very few realize this. Nigeria’s army of professors are not immune.  They are, in fact ,purveyors of a design to stop the people from thinking for themselves.  Creating ineffectual robots. 
The Nigerian media,a terribly nebulous term, is most culpable in the systematic assault on the cosmology of the people.  This, they do via what would be an “I was -told journalism”.  It gets so bad that when you go across the country, a vast and varied groups of people hold a particular view word for word. And as gospel.  All of them seem to know who sponsors Boko Haram, for instance.As they were told. 
They all didn’t want Benjamin Netanyahu to win the elections earlier this month.  Again, as they were told. They know that Trump will be impeached.  As they were told. They know,too, that Atiku Abubakar, who is challenging president Buhari’s victory at a tribunal is wasting his time and money. Yet again, as they were told. It doesn’t matter that it’s Mr Abubakar’s time and money in just the same way they were not told how a Netanyahu loss will affect them. 
I have written previously  about the ghastly lack of distance and artistic truth in the Nigerian media and about the accompanying insidious harm to those who are fed the information.  There are theories that try to explain the decline in ideology and ethics .I think two will do.  
Number one is a national lack of standards.  An everything- goes society gets nothing going. And so,its media which at some point stood between them and the brutalities of military governments(Mr Buhari’s including ) now appears to be a branch of another form of brutish government.  Forever in their lives, assailling them with news and information they don’t need. It removes the little they know that truly matters. 
An instance: In the middle of a harsh socio-economic climate last year, and Mr Buhari’s government having become an incubus, someone, somewhere got the brainwave to resurrect June 12. A period in Nigeria’s history that almost led to war. Victims of the injustices, Yorubas, were sold a most unusual soap.  It goes thusly: That MKO Abiola who is now very dead actually won the inconclusive elections of 1992. The “Lagos Media ” became the funnel via which the mirage was poured into the minds of the people.  Nobody among those who had their people assassinated asked how the sudden realization of Mr Abiola’s victory impacted their lives.  The charade was celebrated where it was intended to work. June 12 was now “democracy day,” they all chorused. How? “That’s what they said”. Ochereome Nnanna, who heads the editorial board of Vanguard newspapers, one of the world’s least cerebral outfits, told the world on Facebook  that “Yorubas are intellectual morons “. Everybody called for his head even though it might have helped to ask why he made such a conclusion.  And Mr Nnanna ,an Ibo, lives in a glass house, as it were. And so he apologised!
Another factor is money. Most of the Newspapers and television stations are owned by politicians. Those that are not so owned had their owners bought.  And knowing the power of money, put the intellect of their employees in a financial dialyzer.  The result is that you print and or say what you have been told.  The people are then fed the general trend, however ludicrous.  Trump’s impeachment for instance. 
It might be ok to spread “I – was-told ” vaccines locally but it becomes very dangerous when you make the people hate a certain foreign leader.  A country that imports everything it needs, whose currency is a mere paper and one with a notional sovereignty cannot afford to be in the bad books of Donald Trump,the world’s most powerful man today. And that is exactly what Nigeria is doing using the media.  Benjamin Netanyahu has just been named again in the Times 100 most powerful people. There is  no wisdom  of any kind in making  enemies of such people. In fact, Nigeria needs them. 
Finally,  the most harm that the media has done is that there is now no difference between a bricklayer and a professor, clergy and congregation ,etc. They all consume the same ” I -was-told journalism “. And so, we have millions of people who have been told a lot of things but who don’t know things.
 The gift of asking questions has died .perhaps they have been told that questions are unnecessary.  They have not told my friend,for example,  why and how Trump will be impeached.  When this trend continues, one would have a North Korea- style society. Millions of humans that bleat.

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