2019 Ethiope Federal Constituency: Amori in the eyes of the storm, why the Media must to right the wrong

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Chief Ighoyota Amori
It is necessary to correct the impression that the media is the Fourth Estate of the Realm after the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial arms of modern governments, though that may be acceptable in the separation of political powers equation.
The idea of the media as the fourth estate came from English political theorist, Edmund Burke, who suggested in a House of Commons debate in 1787 that the media is the Fourth Estate of the Realm after the lords spiritual, or the clergy; the lords temporal, the Crown and the noblemen; and the Commons, or the plebian.
The Crown was the sole authority in England, before the noblemen wrested some powers off it, with the pretext of protecting the interest of the commons. The works of Charles Dickens, “The Great Expectations,” and “Oliver Twist,” show how the gluttonous elite took advantage of the commons.
The media undertook to be the voice and advocate-in-the-behalf of the commons against the excesses of the lords spiritual and the lords temporal, and thus became the fourth estate of the English political realm.
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Ben Igbakpa
Tom Burns records: “The (House of) Commons had begun life as the spokesman… of public opinion. The primary purpose of including representatives of the bourgeois and of the propertied countrymen… in the Model Parliament of 1295… was ‘to inform the Crown about local conditions and help to influence public opinions.’ They discharged these functions… as bearers, intermediaries, or discussants of the large number of petitions for relief or remedy presented to the King in Parliament.”
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Lovette Idisi
Burns adds: “The political role of the press evolved… during the eighteenth century largely because the practice of Parliament, and the relationship of the Parliament to the Commons, departed so grossly from the constitutional principles on which the authority and powers of Parliament were claimed to rest.”
Burns concludes: “The press alone rivaled the House of Commons, in that it was the only organ of public opinion capable of dictating to the Government, since nothing else could speak the sense of the people.”
Chroniclers of Nigeria’s media history may have observed that the Nigerian media came before the Nigerian parliament. In 1859, Anglican missionary, Henry Townsend, published “Iwe Irohin fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba,” the newspaper for the Egba and the Yoruba, in Abeokuta.
Some scholars argue that there was an earlier newspaper publication in Calabar. “The Anglo African,” first published by Jamaican Robert Campbell in 1863, followed. Then came Richard Olamilege Beale Blaize’s, “The Lagos Times and Gold Coast Advertiser” in 1880.
Nigeria’s first “pretend” parliament came with the 1922 Clifford’s Constitution with a legislative council of 27 official, and 19 unofficial, members. Electoral franchise was limited to Lagos and Calabar, and Northern Nigeria was not represented in this parliament-until the 1946 Richards Constitution corrected the omission.
It is almost a given that Nigerians with political ambition must own a media house, have worked in the media, or have friends, or sympathisers in the media. Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, Segun Osoba, and former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida, respectively represent these groups of politicians.
The need by politicians to have a media platform or media friends may explain the plethora of ephemeral community newspapers that flame out soon after their proprietors either got elected into political offices, or lost interest in politics.
Yet, the role of the media in post-colonial Nigeria, especially under the iron-fisted and draconian military regimes, has been heroic, if not suicidal. Nigerian media professionals have lost lives, limbs, livelihoods, and liberty.
Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution provides that “The press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in (Chapter II of this Constitution), and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
Section 39(1) provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinion, and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.” Section 39(2) provides that “Without prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish, and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions.”
By the way, media includes books. After Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, “The Jungle,” reported how rotten and poisoned meat ended in food stores, American President Theodore Roosevelt initiated the Pure Food and Drug Act, that forbade sale of adulterated and mislabeled food, and the Meat and Inspections Act that introduced the inspection and grading of meat.
The Nigerian Constitution grants to every citizen, and not only the media or media professionals, the right to freedom of expression, with the responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people.
Ownership of a media house is the ultimate platform that a polity can grant a citizen to exercise freedom of expression. Many however express doubts, or indignation, that the Nigerian media is not living up to its billings.
For me to do justice to this piece, what can the media do about the injustice done in the past to right the wrong impression about Chief Ighoyota Amori, whom many has crucified unjustly, as it relates to whom becomes the member to represent Ethiope Federal constituency at the National Assembly.
Many a times, Amori has been arrested in media, tried in the media and even jailed in the media, there is no name under the sun he was not called.
Then what is the rationale why many are calling for his head? They were of the opinion that Chief Amori was pushing the possible re-election of Lovette Idisi, which earned him public odium among Ethiopians. But is that really the position?
As a media expert coupled with fact that I am from that local government, I went into investigation of the matter and guess what, Amori has never projected Lovette Idisi in any forum/meeting, neither had he pressurized Chief James Ibori to endorse him.
As a matter of fact, I accosted Chief Amori recently to accused him of what was been said about him, but Amori who was known for his peculiar way of explaining things to people, told me that he had never projected Idisi as a candidate, rather advised for a level playing field for all aspirants.
Hitherto, people were of the opinion that Amori has zeroed his mind on Idisi, but I can authoritively state here that Amori did not do anything of such and can never do that, when he knows that an Oghara man is in the race.
Dependable sources close to Chief James Ibori has also explained that Amori has never pressurized Ibori to endorse Idisi against Oghara aspirant, the source categorically informed that it was only Solomon Golley that was always on Ibori not to endorse Ben Igbakpa for the position, that Amori has never did such.
As a writer, I have on several occasions advocated for my people in various positions, but I was shocked when Solomon Golley’s name came in, it goes to show that you can never predict a man with his facial expression.
Then on whether Amori can be Senator and Ben Igbakpa can be in House of Representatives at this time? Sure, during one of my course in the tertiary institution, being a mass communication student, we were told that educating the uneducated is one of the functions of a journalist and of course that is what I have told myself to do at this critical time. Both of them are eminently qualified to man the positions
Amori being a senator is for eight local governments that made of Delta central and Ethiope House of Representatives is for two local governments, I see anybody holding onto this argument as a lazy and myopic fellow who could not see beyond his/her nose. It is a different positions entirely, and I urged all and sundry, especially our people from Ethiope west to grab this apple opportunities.
Amori and Ben Igbakpa are the best man for these positions, they have the war chest and the necessary requisite for the prone job, after all Halims Agoda and Akpomiemie, who are from the same kingdom, has done it before in two elective positions. Why would our case be different?
I commend our ebullient Chief James Ibori in his vigor and resolved to allow a level playing fielding for all aspirants, of course I was not surprise with his promise, because he is a father to all the aspirants and I appeal to him never to allow Ethiope west people to be political onlookers in the 2019 political chess game.
The media must move away from hype, and promote edifying values and principles to benefit all of us. But to do this, the media must be well-informed, daunting as that may sound. Then, it must present all perspectives, and align with what works in the interest of all on the Street and we can achieve this through unity of purpose, it is possible, yes it is.

Kparobo Ehvwubare is the publisher, sunreporters writes from Oghara-Delta State. Could be reached on marksbare@gmail.com or 07067546856. 

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