Torn into shred between my Id, Ego and Super Ego, these three Freudian constructs are weighing heavily on my psyche, greatly inhibiting my desire to comment on public affairs issues. But since journalism is my calling my choices are limited.
The uncertainty in the environment, the toxicity from both the ruled and the rulers does not give any journalist or public affairs commentator the confidence to speak for the good of all.
The leadership and their agents have become so impervious to criticism even if they are constructive and in good taste.
Annoyingly, the general public have acquiesced to the culture of silence ‘’sit don and look” and abdicated on their rights as citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions and inactions.
The docility and the I don’t care attitude adopted by general public to issues that it ought to speak out and make its opinions known has reduced us as a people who do not know their rights or wrongs.
We have elected as a people to accept the scare and fear campaigns popularized by the leadership to borrow from the late music Icon, Fela’s, Zombies, follow-follow lyrics.
We have chicken in thereby mortgaging the future of this country and that of our children for immediate gratification, driven by a selfish interest to protect our nuances above that of the nation.
Our knack for blind following conditioned by tribal, religious, subtrenain, and geopolitical idiosyncrasies impacts negatively in our journey towards building a great nation anchored on fairness, unity, equity and the rule of law.
The harassment and the arrest of journalists for expressing opinions on public issues have become so alarming, it is no longer safe to speak out on matters that affect the general well being of the society.
The fear of whether is safe to write and comment on public affairs issues has robbed the public opportunity to engage and have their say in governance.
The once vibrant political space known for its tolerance for all shades of opinions has turned Gestapo. Labelling has become the order of the day. All that is required to silence counter views is to give ‘’the dog a bad name’’ so that it’s irritations to those in position power could be silenced.
The press which is referred unofficially as the fourth estate of the realm essentially exists in a Liberal democracy to checkmate the excesses of leaders so that they do not slide into dictatorship.
If every opinion expressed by the media or public affairs commentators is labelled as toxic and considered an attack on the leadership and the coercive agents of the state must deal with the sources of irritations, there will be no free press and freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution.
In it’s country report covering the period January to September 2019 Amnesty International, reported that 19 journalist, bloggers and media practitioners were subjected to attacks, these ranges from physical attacks, verbal assaults, death threats, surveillance, indiscriminate detention, to pressure to reveal sources. Many were charged under cybercrime Act and terrorism (prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 and other laws
As if this is not enough the national assembly an institution which is suppose to be vanguard for the protection of democratic ethos came up with a bill that calls for death penalty all in the name of protection against ‘’fake news” and ‘’hate speech”.
Have we really reached the end game of commenting on public affairs issues? Is it the end of freedom of expression and free press?
In a democracy, the roles of harbingers of news, naturally brings them to a collision course with people in authority, however, when such infractions happen tolerance, civility and the rule of law takes the upper hand.
We must not allow some few individuals in the society who for their selfish interest destroy one of the remaining institution that gives us hope as a people. We must say no to those who want to kill free press and freedom of expression. Long live the federal republic Nigeria. Long live free press and freedom of expression.