Anti-Corruption: The Role of Media as a Change Agent
By Nuhu Ribadu
I am happy to be in the midst of a gathering of journalists and media practitioners, today. I am especially glad that you chose to have us reflect on a very important and ever-relevant topic of the fight against the malice of corruption in Nigeria, and the roles a powerful tool like the media can play in combating corruption in our country. Having this discussion in the month of Ramadan, a time of spiritual odyssey, underscores the fact that we should not only pray but compliment the needed supplications with practical solutions to our challenges of nationhood.
There is a consensus about the position of corruption as our major impediment to greatness. It is a malady that has unfortunately gone deep into our national fabric. Corruption is the major reason why we are where we are today as a country. It is also the reason why we are unable to address a lot of our problems and challenges.
Years of mindless stealing and waste of public resources has brought bad name to Nigeria and reversed the hope and aspirations we had as a country at the time of Independence. The haemorrhage of corruption has dragged this country to a brink in spite of efforts at different times, including what we are witnessing presently, to get the country away from the monster. Fighting corruption, therefore, is key to the survival and progress of our country.
In this fight to emancipate Nigeria from corruption and the corrupt, you as journalists have a great role to play. Your role in this crusade is conferred by the potent of the weapon that is in your hands as pressmen and women. Journalism, you would agree with me, is a frontline profession when it comes to nation building and search for development.
Throughout history, media has played momentous roles in different societies to tackle a number of malfeasances, including corruption. Such turning point interventions by the media have also occurred at different points in Nigeria. In the case of fight against corruption, the Nigerian media should continuously rise up and resist continuous desecration of our country. Corruption desecrates our national ethos and values, and inhibits our well-being as a people. As the acclaimed voice of the voiceless, the media should be up against corruption in all forms.
However, for the media to effectively fight corruption, there must be self-purgation. Media should purge itself of corruption and stand up firm on the path of integrity to discharge its function effectively. As I always say; corruption cannot fight corruption. He who is morally challenged has no moral right to sermonize on morality. And when the morally deformed person attempts to rise against immorality, hardly would he ever succeed and often he ends up ridiculing such moral responsibility.
Cardinal objectives of journalism; that of upholding honesty, probity, fight against injustice and patriotism, sit very well with the teachings of Islam. In fact, fighting for the oppressed and telling the truth are some of Islamic injunctions that are repeated a number of times in the Qur’an and for which Allah promises abundant rewards.
Therefore, as Muslim media practitioners, you should first see your positive role in the fight against corruption as an act of worship. Allah enjoins Muslims against injustice, and there is no injustice greater than cornering what is unto people into one’s own.
The media is therefore needed to champion the anticorruption message and always stand for what is right. As a journalist, you should make it a point of principle to never join forces with people you ought to help the public to fight. Above all, fear of God should be the guiding principle always. At points of temptation always prick your conscience; ask yourself what is in the public interest. Ask yourself; what or who is on the side of the truth before making news judgments or lending yourself to any cause.
Distinguished audience, what I try to do is to scratch the surfaces before we immerse into the lecture proper. I believe the paper presenter, eminent professor Is-haq Oloyode and the discussants lined up will take us through the full course of the theme of this lecture and expectations on you are media practitioners in helping the fight against corruption and, ultimately, the development of this country.
Professor Oloyode has had a long term engagements with activism around this issues. I know his commitment to anticorruption crusade having helped us at the EFCC for a number of initiatives, including developing a faith-based training manual on the war against corruption, in his capacity as the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. We thank you Prof.
The three discussants on the agenda are all eminently qualified to address us on the topic and I believe if we listen carefully we will have a lot of take-away points that will benefit us, especially in your work as journalists.
Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Former Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commissiion (EFCC) delivered this remarks at Ramadan lecture organised by the Muslim Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria at the National Mosque, AbujaJune 3, 2017