MEDIA CONCENTRATION AND DEMOCRACY: WHY OWNERSHIP MATTERS! It seems natural to start this presentation with an attempt on the definition of democracy. The idea and concept of democracy has come to mean different things to many different people; depending on which side of the fence you stand. According to the dictionary of politics, democracy is derived from Greek; meaning ‘the right of the citizens of the Greek city states to participate directly in the affairs and acts of the government ‘(laqueur 1971). Although this was postulated in the classical Athenian era, it is still in line with the modern western understanding of democracy. We can even go ahead to add that democracy is ‘the government of the people for the people, by the people’’. Some school of thought would measure democracy as ‘ as the right of all citizens to vote, exercising their right to universal suffrage’ (Rodee, Anderson, Christol and Greene, 1983). A very key factor in any true democracy is the element of interest groups. This is because; they act as check and balances, as watchdogs to the activities of both government actions and citizen’s reaction alike. We can begin to understand why the stiff rules on the media in east and western Asian nations (north Korea, china, Myanmar, Vietnam, Mongolia, Iran, Syria, Libya and Indonesia). Facebook and Google have been clamped down in china; and the protest in Egypt and Tunisia were fuelled by the media and the social networking sites, which is inversely controlled by the western world. a truly democratic society rests upon the rights of free speech. Free speech is the right of the public or members of a given society to exercise the right of surveillance and constant criticism which would ensure the maintenance of an enlightened public opinion and consequently a public policy based upon principles of social morality and justice. If we agree that free flow of information is essential for the achievement of true democracy, There are peculiar circumstances in most African countries that must be taken into consideration if any talk about democratizing the media is to have any meaning. These include the patterns of ownership of media and accessibility to information. It is our believe that the length of democratization of the media, both print and electronic, in any country is a function of ownership patterns, and accessibility to, media facilities and information. As such, democratizing the media, for the purpose of this seminar, will be understood to mean the process of ensuring that every citizen of every African country has easy and full access to information and to the channels through which he can express his views on issues affecting him and the society of which he is a member, irrespective of his social, economic and political status, and without fear of victimization by those who wield political and /or economic power. Ownership patterns determine who owns, and consequently who controls media facilities. Accessibility to information is determined by such factors as the ability to own receiving sets such as radio and television sets, availability of electricity, use of indigenous languages in both the print and electronic media so that the vast majority of Nigerians who cannot understand the English Language are not denied access to information, and the location of media facilities. It is only when these factors are taken into consideration that we can begin to talk about democratization of the media. Democratization of the media would ensure participation by the people in making decisions that affect their lives. This, in my view, is the bottom line in any discussion about democracy. We can only talk about participation and mobilization of the people when there is free flow of information which will facilitate dialogue between the rulers and the ruled. The degree of free flow of information is a function of who owns the media and how much access to information the people have. This seminar paper will attempt to examine this ownership patterns and why it matters; with particular reference to the Nigerian context. Media ownership pattern in Nigeria. The pattern of ownership is usually in two forms; ownership by the government , and by few individuals or groups. Government ownership. Not until late nineties, government has been in firm monopoly of the media, most especially the electronic media. This was strategic during the military; considering the fact, most Nigerian citizens from post independence era even till date depends on radio medium for information. During the Tonnie Iredia’s tenure as the director general of NTA, he established satellite stations in all the thirty six state capital of the country. Moreover, you can hardly find any state of Nigeria without “state –owned media”. Thus who plays the piper, dictates the tune. Government being the owner; be it at the federal or state level, calls the shot and the media has no objection but to take their cue. When you tune to all these government-owned media outfits, over eighty percent of their news bulletin is devoted to “ praise chanting” of their employer (the incumbent administration), and the government can do no wrong in their eyes. we remember the shameful role NTA displayed during the ODI crisis of 2000 ( the massacre of hundreds of ijaws youths by the Nigerian army; as result of directives from the president obasanjo). Also see the deaf ears most of the state owned media turned during The confusion that trailed President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s three months exit from the country on health grounds and his unannounced arrival on the early hour of Wednesday, 23th February, 2010, is a case in point. If governments are the only ones given the power to run television or radio stations, how can such radio and television stations uphold section 21 of the Constitution which gives the mass media the duty to uphold responsibility and accountability of governments to the people? We cannot begin to talk about democratizing until government releases it stranglehold which has almost already choked the profession of journalism in most African countries. As Idowu (1985) puts it: Journalism as a profession, as an idea, a commitment to the public good, a dedication to unearthing wrong, is no more as exciting as it used to be. Official bureaucracy has knocked down investigative journalism, in its purest form, from whatever height it rose ... As long as Government monopoly of the media continues, for so long will free flow of information and easy access to information remain elusive. According to the popular dictum, "he who pays the piper dictates the tune". Therefore, if government controls the media, then government also controls what the media say, and who has access to what information. When government controls the vast share of the media, the opinions and agitations of the oppositions is perceived as blabbing. Their views are reported by the government owned media as; rebellion not just to the ruling party, but to the entire citizens. Every action of the government is usually “news- bulletin -worthy”, while that of the opposition; most especially the ones criticizing or counter reacting the agendas of the government. Another practical instance of this is the role NTA played in selling out the “Third term agenda” of obasanjo in 2006. This they promulgated through jingles, talk shows (Tuesday live, point blank), news commentaries and documentaries. Ownership by a few individuals or groups. The second form of ownership patterns is ownership by a few individuals or groups. This form of ownership can be as dangerous as Government monopoly. In talking about privatization as a means of democratizing the media industry, care must be taken to ensure that we do not merely substitute government monopoly by the monopoly of a few. The situation must be avoided in which the same individual or group, for example, owns a newspaper, a radio station and a television station, not even if such individual or group has the resources. Such a concentration of ownership will undoubtedly reduce competition, and consequently, journalistic standards. Apart from this, there is the fear, and a genuine one, that the concentration of ownership in a few hands will result in the use of the media for the advancement of personal and sectional interests, leading to political and religious instability. A good example are AIT on the issues relating to obasanjo and El Rufai. AIT was at the forefront of the “anti-third term” campaign. Obasanjo ambition failed the then minister of FCT, Mallam nasiru el rufai approved for the demolition of AIT structure; citing that it is standing on waterway. Of course, media owners will argue that joint ownership, such as newspaper - broadcast operations, will result in better service but experience in other parts of the world, notably the United States of America, show that such concentration of ownership can be a threat to public access and independent news coverage (Gormley Jr., 1977). In the United States of America, this view is reflected in the ever increasing attacks by organized political and religious groups on both the print and electronic media. These groups often accuse the owners of big media establishments of being more concerned with making profit than with the principles of accuracy and objectivity. Organizations that monitors press and television news reporting accused the big media corporations of using their power "in a biased and, therefore, potentially dangerous fashion". Such fears are justified, particularly when it is remembered that in performing their functions of agenda setting, and gate-keeping the media depend on relatively few people - editors or producers - who determine which stories are reported by the newspapers or radio and television. The editors and producers also exercise the power to determine the degree of importance attached to a particular news event. With such powers, and in the hands of a few individuals or groups with vested interests, the media can be used in a dangerous and rather destructive way. Awolowo versus Tinubu. Awo Family Without An Awo, Written By Sam Omatseye The Awolowo rebirth in the Southwest has inspired gongs, songs and rhetoric of sorts. But they have missed one point. It occurred to me in Abeokuta last week amidst the big crowds and euphoria of the swearing-in of Senator Ibikunle Amosun as governor. In all the states from Lagos to Edo, where Awo has witnessed ideological resurgence, hardly a single family member has played a role. So we have an Awo family without an Awo. That is an irony. But history overwhelms us with this sort of twist. Obafemi Awolowo toiled for his reputation. His roots were lowly, he toiled to school both home and abroad, launched into careers in law, business, journalism and eventually politics. He carved a niche for himself, and became the first methodical and charismatic leftist in our history. Other leftists abounded but they did not inspire comparable drama and following. He faced tribulations, went to jail, failed in elections, won a few, but he imprinted his ideas and legacy in the country, and no single mortal has beaten him in the history of this country. His greatest achievement was in the area of ideas, and that was how he fashioned a family. Most families are born of biology but his issued from ideology. That family suffered with him. In a spoof of Jesus Christ, these were the men who followed him in his teachings, and endured with him in his temptations. So he formed a kingdom for them in the Southwest, in the old Western Region, presiding over his projects, his legacies and people. In all of these, the family he had was not his flesh and blood. In another spoof of Christ, who were his family anyway? Those who were with him must be counted as his family. So, I combed in the ambience of Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), and I found none. I went to Ogun, I frisked the crowd under Amosun’s bower, hardly any. Around Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun, I could not lay a finger. With Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti, where are the forbears of Awo? Yet, I can hear the chants of Awo. Hardly in any of the inaugural speeches or any of their other public intervention would you miss the philtre and filter of Awo from these gentlemen. To parody Novelist Joseph Conrad, they are the sparks from Awo’s sacred fire, the messengers of the might within the man. Already all of them are pursuing the legacy ideas of Awo: free education, free health services, infrastructural development, urban renewal and economic engineering. Lagos has posted itself as the John the Baptist. The others are putting up valiant efforts, and the world of course is watching to see how well they will perform. It will call for great work, resourcefulness and cooperation. They are the real Awoists, and Awo was a man of rigour and vigour. The Awo son that many expected to take after the father was Olusegun, who unfortunately died in a car crash. We shall never know if he could have pulled it off. But the others have not shown much of the paterfamilias’ brio and depth. In the past decade, under this republic, they have blended with the wrong crowd. Even H.I.D, hobnobbed with Alao-Akala, who brought illiteracy to governance; with Oyinlola who turned the grace of office into a hell-hole of despots; with Daniel who could not arrest his quick fall into megalomania. I wrote once that this woman whom Awo once described as the jewel of inestimable value has lost value to his cause. If he came back to life, he would have committed the extraordinary act of divorce after death. Even his newspaper, The Tribune, has so stumbled and fallen that it swims in Awo’s vomit. Groucho Max, one of the funniest satirists in American history, said of a man that he got his looks from his father. Then he quipped, “He was a plastic surgeon.” That means the son is not his real son, or he did not inherit his natural looks. Ideologically, when we talk of Awo’s family, the chief inheritor is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the leader of all the others. He was the one who stuck his neck out. He could have lost his life or ended his career in politics. The so-called real Awolowos who bear his surname cannot come up for mention. They are Awolowos but not Awoists. They stabbed their father in the back. They have committed ideological parricide. The only person that made a real try was Awolowo-Dosunmu in the early 1990s and she lost roundly. She was accused of trying to ride her father’s coattail. Political families are good for democracies. They can exemplify the high ideals of diligence, dignity, ideas, character. We have seen these in such families as the Kennedys, the Adamses, the Roosevelts, the Ghandis. They just don’t claim family. They appeal to the high ideals that endeared the families to their societies. It’s also an irony that these families are falling into twilight. Some of them have vanished. Enoch Powell, a British MP, once gave us the famous line: “All political lives, unless they are cut off midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure because that is the nature of politics and human affairs.” Columnist Ambassador Dapo Fafowora adverted to this idea in a recent outing, and I debated it with him afterwards. I don’t believe that a political life should be judged by how it ends but what it means. The quote is often missed by many who mistake “careers” for “lives.” A political life should be judged by its legacies. If we judged Awo by how he ended, we would look at him only as the loser to Shagari. That is why I see an intrinsic mischief in Enoch’s quote. But I would agree that political families end also in failure if you judge how they peter out and not the legacy. Awo’s legacy is alive and well. Members of other families in flesh and blood can carry on. Immediate families tend to suffer from what an author, Noemie Emery, describes as dynastic curse. The children tend to be intimidated by the standards set by the fathers. So they just don’t want to try. They feel they cannot match them or come even close. The problem probably comes from the fathers themselves. The Adams, who produced important presidents, later gave birth to moral vagrants and drunks. The Bush daughters showed themselves as party girls when their father was contesting the political battle of his life. But Joe Kennedy groomed his sons assiduously, and they excelled in politics. They also had a fair share of tragedies. Ted Kennedy regained his sobriety and voice in America after a season of debauchery. In Nigeria, we are seeing the Sarakis fade. A Saraki – Bukola – is wiping out the Sarakis from politics. It is a classic case of oedipal tragedy, something I predicted earlier this year on this page. It is not late though for the flesh-and-blood Awolowos to join their father’s fold. But they must be genuine. Awo was the most important Yoruba personage in history after Oduduwa. They had stellar men like Oranmiyan, Balogun Latosa, Lisabi, Sodeke, et al. None of them had the unifying vision and organisational acumen that Awolowo gave the race. The wife, children and grandchildren should not watch others glow in his jewel without them. RE: AN AWO FAMILY WITHOUT AWO…….BY MRS H.I.D AWOLOWO. My attention has been drawn to an article in Monday’s edition of The Nation, written by one Sam Omatseye and titled ‘Awo family without an Awo’. Ordinarily, I do not join issues with uninformed individuals nor do I comment on articles written in uncouth and downright vile and violent language. Hypocrites that claim to be more catholic than the Pope or more Awoist than his family when they in fact hobnob with so-called pariahs when it suits them and their pockets certainly do not engage my attention, usually. However, this piece, the latest in a long campaign of calumny against my person and family and which, if reports are to be believed, is the opening salvo of a fresh campaign apparently aimed at destroying and demystifying the Awolowo family, deserves an appropriate response, particularly since, we are informed, such campaign has been adopted as the preferred policy and strategy by a particular political party to consolidate its hold on its newly acquired political power base. At 95, I have lived long enough to expect common civility from younger ones, assuming that they received and imbibed proper home training. Having just lost my daughter less than two months ago, I also expect that normal people would spare me the kind of vitriolic attack that was unleashed on my person and my family, particularly as such an attack was entirely unprovoked. It is pertinent to mention here that, for all their protestations as the true children of Awo, the top hierarchy of the leadership of the ACN has not deemed it fit to offer me their condolences on the bereavement either by telephone, letter, or personal visit, up till now. I should certainly not expect anyone in their right mind to, in the same article, rake up the old wounds of the previous tragic loss of my first son and then proceed to question and, indeed, dismiss the notion that he could possibly have been fit to carry his illustrious father’s mantle. All in a bid to situate Mr. Omatseye’s ‘piper’ as the anointed heir of a heritage that can never be purchased. For the avoidance of doubt, my son Olusegun was a graduate of Cambridge University and he was called to the bar in the UK after a stint at the Inner Temple, where his father also studied. These are facts that are open for verification by anyone who wishes to do so. Our expectations of Segun were tragically cut short and it is a cruel irony that a socalled Awoist has chosen to taunt me with this. With friends like this, who needs an enemy? Omatseye claims that, ‘in all his tribulations, the family (Awo) had was not his flesh and blood’. One of the basic tenets of journalism is that facts are sacred but comments are free. Perhaps it should not be surprising that Omatseye failed even in this. I would like to refer him to the dedication contained in Awo’s last book, first published in 1987 ‘The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law’. I quote:‘To my children, Omotola, Oluwole, Ayodele, Olatokunbo. They also bravely weathered the fierce and howling storm from sixty-two to sixty-six; they suffered mental agony in silence; they provided besides sources of cheer for Papa and Mama, in the four-yearlong journey through the dark and dreary tunnel’. As for my personal role in my husband’s life before, during and after the crisis, I commend to Omatseye most of his publications, particularly ‘AWO’, ‘My March Through Prison’, and ‘The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law’. It is surely to the utter shame of a so-called avowed Awoist that he has exposed his absolute lack of any knowledge of Awo’s life. I would not be surprised if Omatseye was unaware, as many of his cohorts also appear to be, that I was the first person to use the broom as a party symbol when at the party’s campaign for the Federal elections that were held during my husband’s incarceration. Omatseye’s dishonest claim of respect for Awo’s thoughts and opinions is further debunked by his notion that Awo was unable to correctly assess his wife of 48 years (at the time of his transition). The abject insult that was heaped on my person by Omatseye, for daring to rise above partisanship and pursue the common good has caused me the kind of pain that can only be dealt with by offering it to God, whose wheel of justice may grind slowly but is guaranteed to grind exceedingly fine. I notice a reference to ‘dynastic curse’ in the article under reference. I totally reject that in my family, by the blood of Jesus and I decree, by His power, that any contrary pronouncement shall return to its sender. As for the Awo family’s non-attendance at recent inauguration ceremonies, as decent and dignified people we know that etiquette does not permit you to attend functions to which you have not been invited. My daughter, Or Awolowo Dosumu’s public career and foray into partisan politics had at various times in the past been described in disparaging terms on the pages of The Nation. The reference to her in the article under reference is, therefore, nothing new. I am glad, however, that, by Omatseye’s own admission and inference, all those who recently assumed governance in the Southwest have done so by riding Awo’s coat tail. What baffles me, however, is the inverted logic that suggests that his daughter had no right to his coat tail while these others do. The mantra when my daughter was contesting, which emanated from the same group that has now metamorphosed into the conquering army of the west, was ‘a o le sin Baba k’a sin omo’ (we cannot serve the father and the child) has obviously been jettisoned as many of the children and spouses of these same people have now emerged winners in various electoral contests. One law for the goose, another for the gander. Like her father before her, she has taken electoral defeat in her stride and has since returned to her profession as an Occupational Health Physician. In other words, she has moved on. It is about time that everyone else did too. In any case, Dr Awolowo-Dosumu’s role and activities at the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation since its inception in 1992 have been acknowledged and recognised, even internationally, by fair-minded people who are not so blinkered by their inordinate desire to ‘own’ a legacy that belongs to all that they become economical with the truth and unleash despicable propaganda against people who have done nothing to deserve it. Only two years ago, the series of activities organised by the Foundation attracted high-level national and international participation and were favourably received by the general public. I recall that some so-called Awoists refused to support the initiative on the pretext that the support of the ‘wrong crowd’ had also been invited. Of course, this did not prevent the full participation of these ‘purists’ in the fund- raising ceremony for Sir Ahmadu Bello’s centenary celebrations, an event that was organised by the then Governors of the Northern states, none of whom belonged to the party of ‘the perfect ones’. For clarification, I applaud the way in which the Governors and all concerned rallied to the cause of celebrating Sir Ahmadu Bello, one of Nigeria’s founding fathers. I simply quote this example to highlight the breathtaking hypocrisy of these modern-day Pharisees. I believed then, and I still believe now that Chief Awolowo’s right to be honoured and celebrated, particularly in the territory in which he held sway and in which he performed the feats for which he will be forever remembered, should not be predicated on political party affiliation. As far as I am aware, Chief Awolowo has not founded any of the political parties existing in Nigeria today. His political associates, those who actually knew him personally and worked with him, can be found in several different parties. Let me remind Omatseye and others like him that Awo expounded the theory of dialectics in his last presidential address to the UPN at Abeokuta in 1983. His thoughts and -ideas have been proved beyond any doubt to be the blueprint for Nigeria’s, even Africa’s, development and it remains a source of joy to me to see and hear people from all political parties, using him as their roadmap to success in governance. Talk about vindication! I, and my family, refuse therefore to be hamstrung or blackmailed into going into the bondage of exclusive association with people who clearly resent and despise us and have made no secret of that fact. We applaud all those who have tried their best to approximate Chief Awolowo’s record of service and we extend our best wishes to those, including those in Omatseye’s list, who are just setting out on their journey of governance. We pray that they may succeed, even as Awo did. To do so, however, they have to remain faithful to his ideals and work sacrificially, as he did, for the benefit of the people in whose trust they today they occupy high office and whose expectations have been raised that another Awo era has arrived. Finally, let me say this. When last I checked, there was no law in Nigeria that compelled anyone to go into partisan politics. Under a democratic dispensation, freedom of association is also guaranteed. Mr. Omatseye would, no doubt, balk at any suggestion that he should forgo any of his rights as a bona fide citizen of Nigeria, including the above-mentioned rights and liberties, under any circumstances. As. my husband always used to say (and include in many of his writings), however, you must always concede the rights to others that you claim for yourself. This is an important lesson for Omatseye. To the uninformed, Chief Awolowo’s legacies begin and end with partisan politics. Those who know better, however, recognise that his legacies as a thinker, visionary and administrator hold far wider and more profound implications for, and potential to impact, posterity. My children know this and remain free to choose, individually and collectively, which aspect of their paterfamilias’ legacy they wish to promote and progress. My family fully recognises, cherishes and welcomes the larger Awo family, regardless of status or location. But we will not be harassed into associating with anyone or group, no matter how loudly they proclaim their self- righteousness. Let me end with one of Papa’s favourite quotes, ‘What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just, And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted’. I hope this statement will be given the same prominence in The Nation as the offensive article. TINUBU’S APOLOGY. Former governor of Lagos Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has written to Chief HID Awolowo, saying he has no cause to disrespect her person or disparage the Awolowo family. In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Olakunle Abimbola, Tinubu said: "I wish to assure Mama that I cannot disparage the Awo family without disparaging the legacy that all of us proudly embrace and are trying to sustain," he wrote in his letter, dated 9 June 2011." The statement said the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader was writing on the controversy over the article entitled, "Awo family without an Awo", written on June 6 by Sam Omatseye, chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation, viewed by many to be critical of the Awolowo family. Many have also claimed the article was a "sponsored" attack on the Awolowos, he said. But Tinubu, in the letter, said he found such linkage strange, since every newspaper has its own editorial policy, independent of any person’s relationship with the paper. "Anybody with knowledge of how newspapers work knows every newspaper has its editorial policy, most times independent of even the publisher," the former governor explained. "So, how can I possibly be behind the opinion of a columnist, simply because he writes for a newspaper, which I am associated with?" He said even Papa Awolowo, publisher of the Tribune, always told people that he read articles in the Tribune, like other readers, since the paper had its editorial policy. "The sage, Chief Awolowo himself used to say that he read articles in the Tribune like any other reader, despite that he was the publisher. The same principle applies here," he explained. Tinubu said though Tribune had been demonising his person, it would be wrong of him to assume that Mama Awolowo, as publisher of the Tribune, was behind the attack. He said the same principle held in the Omatseye piece because the columnist is known to hold strong views which he expresses every Monday. He said: "It is common knowledge that Tribune, almost every day, demonises my person. But should I because of that claim that Mama, as chairman of the newspaper, was behind the demonisation? Of course, I feel disheartened by it all, but I have never felt Mama was responsible for stories Tribune published." Tinubu reiterated his respect and affection for Mama Awolowo and her offspring, saying that was not about to change. He said: "I have absolutely no need to cause Mama any heartache in her old age. All I want for her is to be happy. I assure her of my love and reverence; and affection for her family." 2011 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: THE PRINT MEDIA COLD WAR! Starting from when late president yar’adua illness to his death, goodluck jonathan sworn in as the president, and finally the party primaries to the election proper, it has all been verbal tussles in most of the Nigerian dailies. This war could be tagged;” the north versus the south”. First was the party primary debacle between the incumbent Jonathan against former president babangida and former vice president atiku. The print and electronic media in Nigeria got divided on the choice of candidate; simply for one basic reason, THE CANDIDATE THE OWNER SUPPORTS! Sun newspaper owned by orji uzor kalu rooted for atiku, like a vendetta on obasanjo. daily trust threw their support on atiku ( northern affinity), AIT was much on babangida’s trail; based on Dokpesi’s loyalty. But where the royal rumble erupted and still unfolding, is during the presidential election. The politicians used the media in slandering and defaming their opponents character. And it seems Jonathan won the media war; largely based on the fact that most of the electronic and print media in Nigeria are owned by the southerners ( with exception to a few like; the daily trust, new Nigeria newspaper etc) The media ownership in Nigeria is largely private. There are over 100 national and local newspapers and magazines. The 1992 deregulation of broadcasting brought to an end government monopoly of the broadcast media and emergency of independent broadcast media. Radio is the main source of information for most ordinary Nigerians. Though the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ban the live broadcast of foreign programs, including news, on domestic channels since 2004, many Nigerians remain voracious consumers of foreign news and programmes via the internet, satellite and cables. Social media thrives without restriction in spite of low internet penetration. Nigerian media could rightly be classified as one of Africa’s most vibrant. It is considerably a free media landscape but often, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial measures are use to intimidate journalists and stifle political criticism.