By Simeon Nwakaudu
It is true that the media have a responsibility to hold the government to account. But that responsibility must be discharged with utmost regard for objectivity, fairness and commitment to the development of the society.
Therefore, a medium is under strict obligation to work towards the growth and development of the society where it operates. This is because the sustenance of any medium lies in the serenity of its host environment.
Nigeria Info Port Harcourt, a Radio Station owned by a Lebanese Businessman, has constituted itself into a propaganda tool for anti-Rivers elements. It is the same story with her sister station, Wazobia FM Port Harcourt . They Broadcast falsehood, half truths and outright concocted reports to mislead their listeners. This is a recurring and ever-present reality in Rivers State. Everyday, these stations assault the listening public with misleading information , aimed at promoting a negative political and social order.
The falsehood and negative information order of the Nigeria Info and Wazobia Radio Stations is deliberate, planned and sustained to cause disaffection. It is politically crafted and funded to generate negative opinion about the Rivers State Governor and Rivers State.
The activities of these Foreign Stations have nothing to do with media practice. If it was to hold the Government accountable, it wouldn’t be horribly one-sided. This is not the style of practice adopted by Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM in Lagos. Of course, in Lagos, the owners align with the political party in power. It is not the practice of Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM in Abuja. We know who controls the Federal Government.
The official policy is to continually misinform the listening public at every turn. It is not coincidental that all the duty continuity announcers of the two stations are hostile to the state and the State Government. Using the phone-in programme format, the stations deliberately broadcast wrong and unverified information. There is virtually no respect for the ethics of broadcasting. As long as the goal of destroying the governance process is targeted.
The stations are still in a vicious campaign mode. Canvassing for the immediate past Administration and its officials. In some instances, one would think Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM are fielding candidates for a yet to be determined election.
I am compelled to write this piece after I listened to a paid feature broadcast by the said Organization attacking the Federal Lawmakers from Rivers State who protested the neglect of East West Road and Aleto Bridge by the Federal Government. It was rather disheartening that these Radio stations placed their political and financial interests above that of the environment where they operate. The commercial fee for the sponsored broadcast opposing the completion of the East West Road has been aired and money banked, but the entire State plus the Niger Delta region continue to suffer.
Just a few weeks ago, the Federal Government awarded different road contracts amounting to over N180billion. Rivers State and majority of the South-South States were excluded. These Lebanese Stations saw nothing wrong with the development. Rather they focused on their goal, which is to always defend the APC and her failed Federal Government.
These Radio Stations are unperturbed by the deliberate and frustrating marginalisation of Rivers State by the APC. They play the Ostrich, pretending that they enjoy the fruits of this ugly marginalisation. They air their politically motivated programmes with a seeming declaration: “We told you so”.
Whenever Rivers State is short-changed, there is a clear spirit of celebration at Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM, Port Harcourt.
For these Stations, there is nothing like responsibility to the community, outside consistent negative media hypes.
The manner security infractions are reported on Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM, Port Harcourt connote that nobody lives in Rivers State. Yet they ply their trade here. Security reports are broadcast in very unprofessional manner to belittle the efforts of the security agencies and the supporting state government. No attempt is made to indicate that the Rivers State Government can only support, fund and encourage the security agencies when there are infractions. They deliberately forget that the entire country is having major security issues and Rivers State is one of the few states where the State Government and the security agencies have worked hard to tackle emerging challenges.
When the Nigerian Army was used by the APC to frustrate the take off of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency, it was Nigeria Info, Port Harcourt that justified the anti-Rivers action. Continuity Announcers took to the airwaves with pre-arranged phone-in programmes to defend an illegal action that negatively affected Rivers security.
The issue of the delivery of projects in different sectors is one area that these Lebanese Stations have worked quite hard to misinform people. Hiding under contrived phone-in programmes, Duty Continuity Announcers of the two Stations throw up highly incorrect information and insult the Rivers State Government. The phone-in programmes are cooked to allow same APC supporters to air disparaging and false allegations daily.
If by any stroke of luck , a Pro-PDP caller comes on air, he/she is hounded by the desperate duty continuity announcers. There are times when they even insult such callers or bang them the phone on them.
At the rate which Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM propagate their anti-Rivers agenda, one would expect them to field candidates in any forthcoming elections. No credible medium de-markets where it operates and makes money. Irrespective of the ownership structure, no station should constitute itself into an opposition political party.
It is surprising and a total lack of judgement of facts for Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM not to have realised that Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and Rivers people are into a positive developmental alliance. This alliance is beyond the evil machinations of mischief makers. Irrespective of the plot or deadly propaganda, Rivers people will never be misled.
In case these Lebanese propaganda merchants have forgotten, the Nigerian Army and NTA teamed up a few days to the 2019 General Elections to unleash the worst propaganda onslaught against Governor Wike and PDP. This ungodly assault funded by the APC, failed woefully before the watchful eyes of all Nigerians. Right inside the fortified compound of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, the plot of the Army/NTA/APC plot was resisted by those abducted by the Nigerian Army.
Perhaps the Lebanese Propaganda merchants have forgotten how the AAC/APC/ARMY alliance failed, despite the top level coordination and execution during the elections.
I am surprised that there is no institutional check within the Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM in Port Harcourt. I am shocked that the Lebanese Owners have not found it expedient to change the Anti-Rivers agenda. It has not worked and it will never work.
Nigeria Info and Wazobia FM, Port Harcourt should honourably leave the political arena and resume their place in the media space. This continued assault on the sensibility of Rivers people is unfortunate. Very regrettable.
We understand their affinity to the APC, but they should at least pretend by masking their bias.