By Abdu Labaran Malumfashi
I have not stated the names of the institutions at the beginning because I have spoken about the topic several times.
Well, now that I have decided to put pen on paper on the matter, I may as well mention the names of the three institutions that I have in mind. The three institutions are the Judiciary, the Security Agencies and the Fourth Estate of the Realm, or the Media, for the uninformed.
Some people might be surprised at my choice of number three because I myself ‘is’ or ‘was’ a journalist. My choice of the tense may give me away, which is why I decided to come clean early in the day because ‘is’ and ‘was’ are two different ball games all together. I may not be a practicing journalist at the moment, but a journalist all the same.
Most members of the three institutions I mentioned are after the material world, not the greatness of the country, known as Nigeria.
Because the government wants the judges to be not in want of the material world, it has made their salary and other entitlements very attractive. Still, woe unto him who goes to the court with shallow pockets.
Justice in Nigeria is for the highest bidder. I mean those with the longest pockets always have what they want at the courts all the time. Unless justice is for all regardless of one’s social status, the country called Nigeria may remain a third world in terms of development.
A former top shot at the Supreme Court was forced to leave office earlier than his retirement date because of alleged graft taking levelled against him by those who were in the know.
There are so many cases of alleged graft taking at the highest court in the land that it is well neigh impossible for a poor person to get justice there.
A former head of the Federal High Court was alleged to always have two judgements ready to deliver when a case is before him, and he did not care if the matter is known because he had the temerity to give back to the looser the exact amount he gave to him since the judgment did not favour him.
The security agencies are another worst offenders, who see themselves as being there for the leaders, regardless of how they (leaders) got to the position of leadership. Unless they see themselves as the guardians of the nation’s constitution not just the leaders, Nigeria may remain a banana republic all the time.
The police and the Department of State Security (DSS) are known to be in the forefront of security agencies known to boot-lick leaders all the time, making themselves at the beck-and-call of the leaders all the time weather they are right or wrong. The same Constitution gives the leaders the power to hire and fire any aide they so wish. So, their thinking is that ‘better serve the leaders than the constitution’, which they swore to protect all the time.
Now to my constituency, which is the Fourth Estate of the Realm. The media is called so because of the important role it plays on the world stage. Such a name was coined hundreds of years ago.
The social media has bastardised the media space in the country.
The influx of the uninformed aided by the ownership of the smart phone makes journalism in Nigeria an all comers profession. The allure is the money that some pen-pushers make from the movers and shakers of the society, most of who easily blame the media for ‘misquotation’ for their wilful gaffes.
Of course, some discerning leaders abhor the social media. Still, it is revered by the equally uninformed minds (who are in leadership positions by accident) who give such one-night journalists a chance.
So while the media is revered elsewhere, it is looked at in bad light on these shores because all practitioners are seen as being in the job for the money they can make, not to advance the interests of Nigeria. That thinking has to stop, which is a very Herculean task to accomplish.
I hope this contribution will flag off what may be a lively debate, bearing in mind the age-old saying that fact is sacred but opinion is free.
Mr. Malumfashi wrote from Abuja.