By Onome Oghenetega
The nation’s political environment poses great threat to the practice of professional journalism, a renowned Germany-based journalist and author of several books on political and socio-economic issues in Nigeria and Africa, Mr Frisky Larr, has said.
Larr noted that the nation’s politics is structured in such a way that it deprived the media from making any meaningful contribution to the advancement of the country’s nascent democracy.
He spoke on Wednesday during an interactive session with newsmen in Asaba, Delta State capital.
He said the situation is not different in other African countries as journalists and media practitioners are greatly handicapped in adhering to professional ethics that could have promoted democracy because of the various vested interests in the land.
Larr, who authored several books including ‘Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism’ and ‘Africa’s Diabolical Entrapment’ lamented that the nation’s landscape was too populated with too many vested interests as media houses are owned by politicians.
According to him, “The problem is that the Nigerian media landscape is presently populated by vested interests. And, many newspaper proprietors have one political interest or the other to represent, and so there is hardly any room to practice journalism the way we learned it at school. Objectivity is almost no more a point in question, when you have a politician running a newspaper in order to advance a political interest or a political ideology or whatever.
“So, journalism actually is entrapped, is in a cage in Nigeria at the moment. Therefore, it would require a bit of heroism to break through the deadlock, in the fashion of personalities like late Dele Giwa, personalities like Tai Solarin or somebody like Aire Iyare of the past. Those were names in the post-independence era that actually tried to have a foothold on how critical and good journalism can be practised. But today, unless a complete overhall happens, I don’t see Nigerian journalism progressing under the stranglehold of politically vested interest.”
Larr also described the apparent fight for political supremacy in Edo State between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor and APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Osgiomhole, as unnecessary because it is basically not in the interest of the people of the state.
“I find it a bit appalling, the turn of events that we have experienced or witnnessed all through the eyes past months or weeks; with two power blocs at loggerheads over nothing basically. That a sitting governor would want to do a second term and his predecessor would come and say, No, you are not going to have a second term.
“However justified that is, it is definitely not in the interest of the state, and it is not in the interest of the common man. There is a saying that when two elephants battle, the field suffers it.
“So, as to what happens in the end, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and wait until one of the parties collapses and we see where we take it from there. However, it is not in the interest of the state that two power blocs are at loggerheads.”
Larr advised Nigerian youths to pay greater to education and personal development towards a more secure future, instead of placing undue interest to getting rich quickly and making dangerous journey in search of the Golden Fleece in Europe and other countries in Asia.
“The Nigerian youth of tomorrow will have to focus more on education. The drift towards grabbing money or getting rich quickly that is so prevalent on the mindset without building a particular intellectual foundation for the future cannot serve the youths well. Drifting away overseas and drowning in the Atlantic and moving through the desert in an attempt to reap greener pastures in Europe will not help us, going forward.”