By Oyeleye Oyetunji Samuel
It is a well-known fact that the media, being the Fourth Estate of the realm, that is; the fourth arm of government, holds the government accountable to the governed, by playing the role of a ‘Watchdog’, checking the excesses of the government of the day.
Not only that the media keeps an eye on the ills of the government, but also praises the government if the government is doing things that are beneficial to the masses.
Sadly, governments in some countries around the globe today, Nigeria in particular, want to turn the media from a ‘Watchdog’ to a ‘Watched dog’, by promulgating some laws through National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that would gag the media from expressing unfriendly opinions about the people in the position of power.
Also, another attempt by the Nigerian government to cage the media is the increase in the fine for hate speech aired on any broadcast media. The fine was increased from ₦500, 000 to ₦5 million.
It is absolutely appalling that someone in a position of authority would be involving or alleged to be involved in condemnable activities and the media would be afraid to air the opinions of the masses concerning the issue for the fear of being fined ₦ 5 million, this is nothing, but an attempt to turn the media from a ‘Watchdog’ to a ‘ Watched dog’.
The recent fine placed on a radio station for airing an opinion of a former CBN Deputy Governor, Obadiah Malaifia, about a particular Governor in Northern part of Nigeria alleged to be a Commander of Boko Haram was an attempt by the Nigerian government to turn the media to a ‘Watched dog’ because Malaifia’s comment could not be categorized as hate speech, since it was only an allegation against an unnamed individual.
In a country where it is the government that is keeping an eye on the media, rather than the media keeping an eye on the government, then the media there has become a ‘Watched dog’ rather than a ‘Watchdog’.