With the emergence of modern nation states in the 21st century, information has become fundamental tool for national growth and development. The media plays an important role as a catalyst for development by playing the pivotal role as a channel of public communication and good governance. It does this by discharging its social, moral and professional obligations by providing a much needed platform for public debate, articulation and reflection on public policies and the free expression of opinions.
This has increasingly made the relationship between the media and the government to be inseparable in the common pursuit of good governance. Needless to say that the media wields enormous power in the contemporary society. The way this awesome power is exercised can make or mar public policies, particularly in a fledgling society such as Nigeria, which is still passing through the complex processes of democratization and economic reconstruction.  
 
With the enunciation of Vision 2020 by the federal government with the mandate of articulating and concretizing our collective national goals and aspirations of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020, the media has to play the fundamental role of sensitizing, mobilizing and educating Nigerians to imbibe the correct attitudes and take the right actions for the Vision to progress from the realm of public policy to that of concrete reality.
 
There is no gainsaying the fact that under the Vision 2020 project, we all aspire to build an industrialized modern state, peaceful and united in our collective aspirations; conscious of its manifest destiny as a regional power and well respected in the comity of nations. However, this task will be almost impossible without a highly enlightened, adequately remunerated, well equipped and patriotic national media. In this respect, therefore, government, in addition to providing the enabling environment for the growth of the industry, needs to promote and sustain harmonious relationship with the media as one of the major stake holders in this laudable national Vision. On their part, the media practitioners must imbibe a sense of national interest in the discharge of their duties.
 
It needs to be stressed that based on its immense material and human resources, Nigeria has the potentials for greatness. To harness these resources for the collective national greatness, the media has to motivate, instill, and inspire necessary confidence among Nigerians. We must also embrace the positive virtues of self discipline and patriotism, for our national growth and development.
 
In the light of the above, therefore, the media has to vigorously embark on the deliberate collection, packaging, processing and sustained dissemination of well-thought-out public sensitization strategies, taking in to cognizance the peculiarities of the various Nigerian publics. In addition to this, the media has to equally play the role of promoting peace, stability, unity and progress of this great nation, without which no serious national growth and development can take place. This would, to a very large extent, serve as a catalyst for the needed economic transformations and reforms which are cardinal to the actualization of the Vision 2020.
 
It is essential to note that we should not confine the afore-mentioned challenges to the national media alone. There is the need to establish and sustain cordial working relationship with the international media. We may recall that Nigeria has been largely blacked-out on news coverage that truly reflects the nation’s growth and development. In most instances, Nigeria has been portrayed, by the international media as a nation inhabited by criminals, a people without hope, intellect or perception. This kind of news reportage had been of great concern to our dear nation. Paradoxically, news about various laudable public policies and developmental projects had been downplayed. This kind of stereotyped and combative posture of the international media could be a serious bottleneck to the realization of Vision 2020 especially as it relates to the inflow of the Direct Foreign Investment into the country.
 
It is instructive and pertinent to note that since 2003 the Nigeria Information Service Centres abroad were closed down, and since then, there were no professional information officers to effectively handle the nation’s external publicity functions which are germane to the external promotion of the nation’s developmental programmes such as the Vision 2020. We are, in this respect, constrained with the problems of promoting Nigeria’s external image and countering falsehood and prejudicial news dished out by the international media about Nigeria. Suffice it to say, at this point, that the role of the international media would largely depend on various critical factors such as our external relations, the state of our external image as well as the commitment and political will by the present and subsequent administrations towards implementing the various components of Vision 2020.


Hadi Y. Alhassan
hadiyalhassan@yahoo.com

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