It’s democracy day in Nigeria and Americans are preparing to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Watergate, a scandalous phenomenon that has shaped politics and newspapering – newspapering being an unvarnished generic representation of the mass communication media.
Watergate is a vivid and graphic reminder of the possibilities of journalism. The Premium Times, Nigeria’s foremost and leading online newspaper, is perceptive in contextualising the intersection of journalism with social processes to birth a better society: “…only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.”
Yesterday, 1,309 of us gathered on Twitter Spaces at the instance of Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), a sub-group of Premium Times, to reflect on the place of the media in strengthening democracy. It was a rare assemblage and a great opportunity to re-learn, and importantly to discover the great mobilisations and rational activism spearheaded by young people to make Nigeria great again.
So, let’s reclaim our spaces. Join the mobilisation efforts in your neighbourhoods to educate and be educated on why you must participate and vote in the coming elections, it will be Nigeria’s most defining and decisive moment ever.
Also, please support good journalism, support “journalism of relevance”, to borrow the words of Dapo Olorunyomi, friend, brother, mentor and Nigeria’s most celebrated journalist in contemporary times – a living, uncelebrated hero of June 12 struggles.
Why do you have to support good journalism? It is “history written in a hurry”, that phrase is also borrowed from Asaju Tunde – another friend, brother and mentor, a perpetual activist and a notable journalistic satirist. Yes, journalism chronicles events in a hurry, yet it sets agenda for social discourses and illuminates the social fabric, providing information and knowledge we all require to take informed decisions about our lives and about our democracy.
The Washington Post reminds us daily that “Democracy dies in silence”. Professors Ziblatt and Levitsky even carried the argument further in their thought-provoking book, HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE. And Professor Wole Soyinka reported tellingly in his published prison notes, THE MAN DIED, that indeed, “…the man died in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”
It stands to reason that we can make Nigerian democracy to work for all of us by being intentional about our security and safety to ensure terror does not win. Thankfully, terror never won. And by collectively insisting through organised, conscious self-activity, that our brand of democracy must be popular, representative and participatory, we shall win.
In 1981, Minimum Wage was 125 naira (equivalent to 270 dollars). Today, Minimum Wage is 30,000 naira but its equivalence is 60 dollars. By the way, in 1978, a dollar is 45 Kobo. Such a painful reversal! Nevertheless, our collective, rational social action can cause another reversal in a positive sense.
So, though the times are dark, the rain cometh soonest; if we don’t keep silent, OUR DAY SHALL COME.
Once again, remember, democracy dies in silence. DON’T BE SILENT!
HAPPY DEMOCRACY DAY!
Ibietan,a Media Strategist and Political Communication Scholar, writes in from Abuja