Thursday, August 13, 2009

media turf

Why media regulatory turf needs reform
By Ozolua Uhakeme
Assistant Editor (Arts)
THE need for the review of the media regulatory frameworks is not in doubt. Even government functionaries have mouthed it at several fora, except that the talk is yet to be marched with action. In fact, at a one-day policy dialogue on Community Radio Development in Nigeria held recently in Abuja, Information and Communications Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili raised the hope of having those obstacles to efficient media performance removed with immediate effect.
Represented at the function by the Director-General, National Film and Video Censors Board, Mr. Emeka Mba, Akunyili said: “I am aware that we require action on our regulatory frameworks to enable us address grey areas of our activities and take pluralism to a higher level. A little misunderstanding among stakeholders has affected the operations of the Nigerian Press Council for some years. A media sector policy reform process, which involved the review of the 1990 National Media Policy and the design of a Communication Radio Policy has not been completed. A legal reform process affecting the establishment laws of agencies in the Information and Communication sector has also slowed down.
“I am confident that in this new dispensation, the government in collaboration with other stakeholders, including us that are gathered here today, should be able to address these issues and produce worthwhile results in good time. Like other stakeholders, the government wants appropriate and up-to-date policies, law and regulations in place to guide implementation of programmes.
“The completion of the two policy processes will provide a solid platform for our activities in the sector. The community radio policy, for example, will guide us in licensing stations in conformity with international standards and best practices. Putting in place a well-functioning Press Council will strengthen media professionalism.”
With the re-opening of debate at the two chambers of the National Assembly on the review of the 1999 Constitution, stakeholders in the media are optimistic that those cobwebs in the statute book that affect the media (including broadcasting sector) will also engage the attention of the federal legislators.
The issues, which have continuously been raised by media sector practitioners and watchers include the fact that the 1999 Constitution prescribed obligations/duties for the media in Section 22 (to hold government accountable to the people), without providing the corresponding framework of freedoms as stipulated in Section 39 which deals with media issues. The section, it has been argued, should provide, in addition to the general freedom of expression for all citizens, a freedom of the media. Stakeholders have been canvassing that the provision should also be extended to specifically provide for a clear right of access to information for all citizens, including journalists.
Another critical point is the realisation that the Section 39 vests the power of authorization/approval of private broadcasting licences in the President of the country. But the global and standard practice today is to vest full regulatory powers (which include licence authorisation) in an independent regulatory body.
Also, the fourth schedule of the 1999 Constitution vests the power to collect fees on ownership of radio and television sets in local government councils, while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act 38 of 1992 (as amended by NBC Act 55 of 1999) gives this power to the NBC as stipulated in Section 7 of the 1999 NBC amendment Act No 55.
But because the constitutional provision is superior to the NBC Act, the local governments have been collecting these fees and spending them without making them available for the development of the broadcasting stations.
In fact, a fresh twist has been introduced to the collection of these fees, especially in some parts of Lagos. The situation is degenerating as some overzealous revenue task forces from local government areas in the state have embarked on harassing and mounting pressure on proprietors of private schools in Lagos to pay the radio and television license tax.
Stakeholders in the media, especially the professional groups such as the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) have not only canvassed for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, but also the review of certain regulatory frameworks that obstruct free flow of information and Nigerian right to free expression.
This campaign has been emboldened by the support from media NGOs such as Institute for Media and Society (IMS); Media Rights Agenda (MRA); International Press Centre (IPC); Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER) and others.
The synergy among these stakeholders arose from the realization that information sector is probably the only sector in Nigeria without an up-to-date National Mass Communication Policy as well as National Community Radio Policy. This review process has dragged for too long, they argued and urged the Federal government to see to its urgent completion and issue a new policy.
In mid-2004, the Federal Government started a media policy reform process when it instituted a 24-member committee to review the 1990 National Mass Communication Policy.
The 1990 policy became obsolete: most of its recommendations had been implemented while others were out of tune with new developments in information and communication technologies. Against the letter and spirit of global trends and good practices, the policy retained government monopoly in ownership and operation of broadcasting. The policy said: “The time is not yet ripe for private ownership of the broadcast media.”
In its report submitted in November 2004, the review committee recommended such policy objectives as that the broadcast media should be made accessible and affordable to all Nigerians, and that the development of public and private broadcasting should be promoted. It also recommended implementation strategies which include, that “there shall be an equitable spread of the categories of licence to ensure that no community or segment of the population is denied access to information through electronic (broadcast) media” and that “the development of community broadcasting shall be promoted.”
Government solicited and took further inputs from its agencies and public before subjecting the document to a series of internal reviews. In their contributions into strengthening the report, community radio stakeholders made submissions such as:
• The Policy should provide for a clear recognition of a three-tier structure of broadcasting in line with African Charter on Broadcasting: Pub1ic Service, Commercial and Community.
• The development of community broadcasting shall be promoted as distinct from decentralised state broadcasting.
•Broadcasters in all tiers' should be required to promote and develop local content.
•The NBC and NCC should be merged into an independent regulatory body.
•Broadcast station licensing should be fair, transparent and based on clear criteria.
•Media concentration should be discouraged.
•Community radio should be allowed to derive funding from sources, which include specific community-related commercial activities, community contributions, grants and an independent Community Radio Trust Fund.
In 2006, government undertook similar exercise as regards National Community Radio Policy when a 17-member committee was set up to produce a draft Community Radio Policy. The committee presented its report to the government in December 2006. The report made recommendations on key issues, which include:
• Access, participation and ownership: community groups and individuals should be involved in financial/other contributions and represented in the control, management and operations of community radio stations.
• Licencing: The broadcasting licence should be free, without prejudice to reasonable processing fees; application and processing should be simple, transparent and community-friendly.
• Programming, content and language: broadcasting will be in language(s) of the community served as much as possible will reflect the socio-linguistic realities of its environment; content, planning and production will be participatory, involving representatives of the audience.
• Governance and management: of the community radio should be community driven, accountable, transparent and responsive, based on efficient practices and appropriate tools; prior to establishment, the participatory methodology should be deployed in creating awareness and sensitising the people on community radio.
•Technical arrangement: The regulator should prepare a frequency plan which ensures sufficient frequencies for community radios throughout the country 10 to 15 percent of FM broadcast frequency spectrum for community radio stations; stations should be granted transmission power of 1 00 watts, although higher levels where justified.
•Sustainability and funding: Community radio licences should be registered as not-for-profit entities with at least 60 per cent local ownership; there should be no regulatory restrictions on source of revenue other than to encourage sustainability through diversity of financing and to avoid dependence on anyone source, they shall raise funds through advertising, sponsorship and other diverse sources, although no single source should account for more than 50 percent.
•Research and capacity-building: The regulator and other stakeholders shall encourage and promote research and training into the sustainability, social and development impact of community radio.
•Monitoring and evaluation: both the regulatory body and community members should be involved in monitoring and evaluation activities.
Lawmakers are urged to fast track the completion of work on these policies while other regulatory frameworks in the statute book that are due for review are also accommodated in their renewed efforts to bequeath a functional Constitution to the country.

times of life

Times of life open at Yabatech
By Ozolua Uhakheme
Assistant Editor (Arts)

In most art schools across the country, not many art teachers will readily accept to hold a joint art exhibition with his students. The closest of such opportunity has been the curating of graduating students’ art exhibition by teachers of the department. Also, the Goethe Institut, Lagos organized group exhibitions for the best final year students in some art schools curated by renowned art scholars like Prof. EL Anatsui of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1999 is one such platform. That initiative saw the emergence of the likes of Uche Edoche, Nwosu Igbo and Blaise Gbadem all from the Nsukka School.
Perhaps inspired by that gesture, an art teacher at the School of Art Design, and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Mr. Aladegbongbe Aderinsoye has offered one of his students, Fashakin Michael, the rare privilege of holding a joint art exhibition at the school’s gallery. The show titled Times Of Life, which was curated by Adeola Balogun opened last Saturday at the school gallery. It is featuring about 50 paintings from both artists.
Apart from highlighting different happenings over a period on canvas, papers and metal foil, the collection provides space for the duo to refresh viewers on their evolving approaches to art. For Aderinsoye, the joint show is a tip of the iceberg for his next solo exhibition later in the year. In fact, it is a dress rehearsal of a sort. He pledged that he would hold the joint exhibition every year with one of his students as part of his efforts at lifting the up and coming artists. “I am not influenced by what collectors want to buy. So, I paint what my heart directs me to do. Again, for the miniature, I have lots of them in my collection because I do paint in my bedroom. And since space is a constraint, I chose small size canvass to express myself while in my bedroom painting,” according to the art teacher.
His Forest At Home, is a satirical comment on the state of the power sector, which has literarily been thrown into total darkness in spite of the billions of naira pumped successive administrations to revamp it.
In order to reach more collectors, Aderinsoye presented a good number of miniature paintings that can be purchased at relatively affordable prices. Unlike his teacher, Fashakin presented works mainly in metal foil that address varied issues in the society. Among the works on show are The stroke of persistence, In search of green, Wonders on the sea, Time flies and Fusion. The joint show will run till august 15.

niger delta through aperture

Niger Delta through the aperture
A glance at some of these photographs will give you insight to what most communities in Niger Delta have been facing since black gold was struck in the region over 50 years ago: environmental pollution, erosion, underdevelopment and poverty, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME spoke with Eremina Jan Jumbo, a photographer who spent 50 days documenting some communities in Bonny Local Government Area.

After over 50 years of oil exploration in Niger Delta, the disturbing state of neglect and environmental degradation of the region still appear inconsequential in the reckoning of many Nigerians, especially the elite who form the core of leaders at various levels of governance. But today, the attendant crises of kidnapping of people and bombing of oil pipelines by militants are matters for serious concern, even to the global community.
Worried by the increasing spate of criminal activities in Niger Delta, PHOTOLENSE, an outfit managed by Bonny born environmentalist and photographer, Eremina Jane Jumbo undertook a recent photographic documentation of some communities in the region. In a chat with The Nation, Jumbo revealed that the level of neglect, degradation and poverty she saw during the documentary that lasted 50 days were very serious issues compared to the manner the militants are going about the agitations in the region. Jumbo who traversed the creeks on small canoes and sometimes on motor cycle, disclosed that most of the communities are threatened by erosion and armed robbers who continually invade the helpless villagers. According to her, Nunabie, one of the communities has been sacked by robbers leaving only a family behind. “Almost every resident of Nunabie has vacated the village. For so long the villagers have been under siege from armed robbers but learnt that the men of the Joint Task Force visited the place after series of reports,” she said.
Also, she visited Mumakiri (aka Ajegunle), which is reported to be populated by the Ilaje, and found that it has been devastated by erosion. Apat from erosion menace, the community’s only primary school is without a teacher and pupils travelled two hours on the creek to Ogoni to attend school and take medical care. When she asked the community head, Mr. Sam Ayodele of the contributions of elected politicians, he answered “The politicians only come here during electioneering campaign. After the election, you don’t see anybody again. Mumakiri used to be the largest community with an expansive waterfront, but today, erosion from the ocean surge has overrun half of the land. And because of this, residents are relocating to other villages.” Another community documented is Agaja, where there are lots of oil pipelines but which is overwhelmed by poverty.
Asked why she undertook the exercise at a period insecurity in he region is high, Jumbo explained that it is to draw attention of well meaning Nigerians to the needs of the people, especially women and children in area of primary health care and education. “I wanted to see for myself why young men are into kidnapping, and to also see with the eyes of my camera how justifying their cause is. But the overall objective of the programmme is to engender development in the region, especially in the provision of portable water, health care and even mosquito nets to the people. ” She noted that unfortunately, there are oil companies like Chevron, Mobil, Shell and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas facilities in Bonny.

fresh crisis threatens culture ministry

Fresh crisis threatens Culture Ministry
By Ozolua Uhakheme
Assistant Editor (Arts)
The timing seems to be very odd. And the stakes too, have suddenly become very high in a hitherto grade ‘D’ ministry of culture, where no ministerial nominee ever rejoices when appointed minister of culture. Recent happenings in the culture sector have become source of worries to stakeholders, especially artistes, dramatists, gallery owners and patrons of the art.
Following these developments, the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) is wondering why the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation wants to ‘destroy the harmony and positive changes going on in culture sector. Is it that we abhor progress or why destroy a good thing backed by law?’
According to a statement by NANTAP signed by its national president, Greg Odutayo, the association is deeply worried by fillers from the culture sector, especially the harassment and intimidation of some directors of the parastatals in the ministry. It decried the actions and called on President Umar Yar’Adua to ensure that henceforth, board of parastatals in the culture sector must be populated by professionals in the industry as well as representatives of professional bodies. “We must professionalise the cultural sector. Mr President Sir, please find other jobs for the politicians who want to destroy our cherished sector…
“What is however of great concern at NANTAP is that instead of commendation what we are seeing and perceiving is a culture (pardon the pun) of harassment, intimidation and persecution. These guys are being harassed, embarrassed and out rightly being intimidated for the good works they are doing.
Joe Musa and his directors have been picked up and arranged by the EFCC for embezzlement of funds that even the parastatal does not have as budget. Can you embezzle money which you don't have? The matter is before a judge of competent jurisdiction and we in NANTAP are waiting and watching. We have the firm belief that the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man will as usual live up to its billing when the time comes. We have no fear in that,” the statement said.
The association observed that the hitherto comatose and non-performing parastatals have suddenly become juicy oranges for the picking by some politicians who are being encouraged to bring out the daggers to destroy the hard work that is being done by members of the artistic community who have been saddled with the tasks of developing the various parastatals. It said government made the mistake of putting round pegs into round holes by appointing qualified artistes to head the various parastatals namely - National Theatre/Troupe with Prof. Ahmed Yerima, Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation (CBAAC) with Prof Babawale and National Gallery of Art - with Joe Musa among others.
”That was the major mistake because now we all can see that those supposed dry parastatals can indeed perform. These three practitioners have indeed shown that the sector can shine and can be places of pride for us as professionals and practitioners. What is however worrying in the NANTAP is that instead of commendation what we are seeing and perceiving is a culture (pardon the pun) of harassment, intimidation and persecution. These guys are being harassed, embarrassed and out rightly being intimidated for the good works they are doing,” according to NANTAP.
The statement noted that recently Joe Musa and his directors were picked up and arranged by the EFCC for embezzlement of funds that even the parastatal does not have as budget, asking whether one can embezzle money which he doesn't have. It assured that since the matter is before a judge of competent jurisdiction it would wait and watch. We have the firm belief that the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man will as usual live up to its billing when the time comes. We have no fear in that.
But what “wat we cannot tolerate is the intention of the chairman of the board of NGA, Peter Eze, a lawyer who should know better wanting to set up an administrative panel to probe a case that is already before a court of competent jurisdiction. We call on the chairman to listen to the voice of reason and let's all await the trial and judgment. We in NANTAP condemn the unfolding development and will resist it with all that we have. We reiterate that Joe Musa and his directors are innocent until proven guilty. Mr. President has not suspended them from working neither has the honourable Minister. The Chairman of the board of NGA should stick to policy formulation (if they have the requisite knowledge) and stop trying to do the day to day administration of NGA.”
On the planned changes in the management of the National Troupe and
The National Theatre/National Troupe headed by Prof Ahmed Yerima, NANTAP stressed that the National Theatre is currently the event venue of choice for a majority of events in Lagos today. And that as patrons of the art and stakeholders in Nigeria can attest those two bodies have never had it so good. It therefore wondered why the Ministry of Culture & Tourism wants to destroy the harmony and change going on in that sector of the culture.
Continuing, it added: “Is it that we abhor progress or why destroy a good thing backed by law? In 2000, with the dilapidating state of the National Theatre, government decided to concession the National Theatre. But under the advice of the then Minister, Ambassador Franklin Ogbuewu that a merger of the National Theatre and the National troupe would enhance and improve the revenue generating base and capacity of the organization and also with the pressure and support of the stakeholders, Mr. President in Council in 2006 approved the merger of both parastatals into one. The Council memo of ref. No. is EC166 (2006). The merger was to achieve the following:
Streamline areas of duplication(b)National Troupe serve as a revenue generation organ of the new parastatal
(c) Create job opportunities for Nigerians
(d) Enhance the facilities of the National Theatre so that it can meet international standards..
”With all sense of responsibility, we in NANTAP can see and has commended and will continue to commend the Minister, the Ministry and the management of the National Theatre/National Troupe for the wonderful work that they have done so far and achieved. We will also be the first to shout at the roof top if these organs of government are about to derail. We in NANTAP want the honourable Minister to know that we will resist any attempts at merging those two organs back - National Theatre and National Troupe. Like the Americans say "If it aint broke, don't fix it".
The association warned that it would not tolerate disruptive elements who want to come and take over and benefit from a split of the Troupe and the Theatre, adding that if they are looking for work, they should go else where. Culture sector, it said, is no more a place to reward party loyalty.
It recalled that Decree No 47 of 1991 was what formally established the National Theatre and the National Troupe of Nigeria noting that government’s original intention was to have both organisations function as one, hence the clause in the decree establishing them that there should just be one governing board for the two organs just as there is only one decree for them. “If government wanted them to operate separately, they would have established them under separate decrees.
The merger has yielded fruit as repairs have commenced since 2006 on the National Theatre when the incumbent, Prof Yerima was appointed as substantive Director-General for the merged organization. The greatest dividends of the merger has been the gradual refurbishment of the four major halls, the restoration of the National Theatre as a place of dignified events and the increase in the standards of performances by the National Troupe because of the provision of facilities in the National Theatre.
“Today the once sorry sight that was the National Theatre has begun to attract blue chip companies and multi-national organizations and world class international events. We in NANTAP strongly hold that in the interest of the nation and in the interest of the cultural sector as well as the new status of attracting interest both local and international visitors and events to the theatre, we must leave those two organs the way they are. Artistes in Nigeria will make those organs ungovernable if government refuses to listen to us,” the association said, noting that ‘we also have it on good authority that Prof Babawale of CBAAC is the next in line to be rubbished. We are waiting and watching. Let those who have ears hear.’

The nation as a challenge

‘The Nation is a challenge to other papers’
The Yerima of Auchi Kingdom, and former Information and Culture Minister, Prince Tony Momoh has affirmed the strength of The Nation as the newest challenge to other papers barely three years of its operation. In this interview with Assistant Editor Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME, Momoh described the simultaneous printing of The Nation, its local contents and production package as ground breaking efforts that make the paper stands out.

There was a recent independent research conducted by three leading advertising agencies, which places The Nation second to Punch in sales for the month of March and April this year. What is your reaction to this research?

“I don’t know the status of the ranker. The fact is that I have my own opinion on The Nation. As a matter of fact, I am so impressed with what The Nation has been doing that I now subscribe to it. The Nation is breaking grounds in a lot of areas, especially in the area of education with the CDs they have been sending out and the volume of materials that is there. The average journalist will now know that to be an enlightener, you have to be enlightened and what The Nation has been doing in focusing on educational aspects, not only on the people but on the journalist, I think that area is highly commendable. I don’t know what those who did it considered, but I am telling you my personal impression that The Nation is a very good paper, it is innovative, it has high level writers, I am expressed with the columnists, it is one of the best produced, and that you even go round two or three points to print simultaneously is a big plus. The Nation is a challenge to all other newspapers and other all media owners to proliferate as much as much as possible in Nigeria terrain. As minister of information, I discovered that speaking in Lagos was of no use to someone in Anambra state. For four years I was minister of Information and Culture, I toured every state three times, and I had no time to go abroad because I knew my work was here.
I was speaking in 13 locations in every state (all parastatals, radio stations, television stations, newspapers houses). Everywhere I went to people asked the same questions, as if I did not answer them. But the truth of the matter was that I had not answered them to the communities where the question is asked. So, when you have simultaneously printing, you must move in the direction of the local content of the area where you are producing. If you don’t, then you will be addressing Lagos to other regions.
I always tell people when I was teaching journalism at the Times Journalism Institute (TJI), that if you go to Tinubu Square in Lagos find out the papers they were buying. If they buy Herald, Chronicle, Observer and Standard you will discover that the buyers are either from those areas or have interest in those areas.
So, the next challenge of the Nigerian newspapers is local content. Television and radio are already doing it. With the simultaneous printing in different areas, I think there should be a team of editorial staff that should attend to local contents of the areas and emphasise them.

The focus of the research is the actual sale per paper (not print run) during the months of March and April this year. Are these figures realistic?
As a matter of fact, circulation is a function of patronage. If you are circulating, it is either you are producing a very good product that is acceptable and or you have means of reaching out to the readers. The problem with newspapering today is one of distribution. But if you invest in vehicles and the content is attractive, obviously you will circulate.
I am looking at The Nation less from the angle of circulation than the angle of expertise in production, because if you want to talk of circulation, which is very good, I commend that. In Daily Times Group in those days, Daily Times was distributing 350,000 copies a day and Sunday Times was distributing between 400,000 to 500,000 copies. Lagos Weekend was distributing about 500,000 copies a week. And we were in all the regions.

Specifically, the ranking scored Punch first with 34,264 sales while The Nation got 30,578 copies. What do you make of this research?
I am not going to comment on what anybody got in the ranking. When it comes to ranking I don’t want to take part in it. If one asked me about each paper, I know what to say. However, I have been into development of media for many years. But I have told you The Nation has done marvelously well. Don’t let me comment on what others have done about ranking.

Can any of the Nigerian dailies of today meet such target?
First of all, the cost of newspaper: the cost of producing and unless you want to make money outside of sales, unless advertising comes to your aid there comes a time when circulation will not help you. Those days, we were using 72 tonnes of newsprint a day because we have 14 titles. The truth of the matter is that today, there are newspapers that use one realm a day.
I don’t know of what is the current situation with the coming of newspapers like The Nation, Sun, Kompass and Daily Independent. But until now the total print runs of all the newspapers in Nigeria, about 12 years ago, was not up to the production of Daily Times in a day. That means the total print runs of Nigerian newspapers was not up to 500,000 copies. The most serious one is that there is no newspaper on daily basis that reaches beyond a local government area in many states. We are fortunate that the Mass Media Commission did not come into effect, which was in the 1999 draft constitution. The commission would have made a newspaper to circulate only in the state in which it is printed except if publicly owned.

Was that provision perceived as gagging the press?
They thought it would regulate the press and regularize the operation of the press. If we had had the Nigerian Media Commission in the constitution, newspapers would only circulate in areas where they are printing like in Lagos, you must circulate only in Lagos state. Then the board of the paper must reflect national character.
Can we relate this to the on-going legal tussle between Daily Times and the Nigerian Union of Journalists in the area optimal use?
The fact is that we should not go to that aspect. The law is not there and Nigeria is better off for it. Restrictive laws are always a hindrance in a growing democracy. Fortunately, the commission was removed. Another thing was the provision for a court which was in the newspaper decree. Newspapers were to register and re-register and the body to oversee it was not a journalism body.

In other climes, cover prices of papers are sometimes slashed. Can we do that in Nigeria?
Why not? But if you drop your cover price, it means you have enough adverts to absorb the shock. If you don’t have advert back up for cover price, you cannot drop cover price. But if you want to make profit, you need money from advert and or circulation. But newspapers get subsidies from the owners.

Will such assistance not amount to control?
Newspaper control mechanism is through ownership, patronage, or policies which are the laws that regulate the operation of newspapers. So, there are lots of laws restricting the newspapering.
But owners may want his paper to be a shot in the arm for his political ambition. It might be economic too.
Ownership is either government or private, but the ascendancy of private ownership of newspaper today is good for the industry. But what a newspaper does will point the direction of what the owner wants. If the owner wants his businesses to be enhanced, you will see that it will tilt towards economy. If it is for political clout, the paper will move towards politics. So, there is a lot of reflection of the person and his interests. Ownership of media is guaranteed in the (Section 39 sub-section 2) of 1999 Constitution not freedom of the media. On the side note is the freedom of expression and the press. But there is freedom to establish and own a medium. And section 22 of the Constitution says the press must monitor governance for the masses, which is why the press is referred to as the fourth estate of the realm. The journalist must do the monitoring professionally. If the owner says he pays the piper and therefore will dedicate the tune, then the song must be offered by a philharmonic orchestra. The media owners are moving in the direction of self discipline and are trying to get respect for the press and not being feared.

What is your reaction to the recent publication of nude photograph of a legislator on the front page of a daily? Is that professionally right?
Obviously, it is against the moral ethics of the profession. Section 45 of the constitution is clear on such and it says you cannot exercise your right to undermine others, especially the moral health of the country. Under moral health is obscene publication, which includes anything (like corpses, nude pictures etc) that will disturb your breakfast at a table are not morally acceptable.
There are papers that are involved in organizing awards and concerts. Does this amount to unethical practice?
Newspaper is a business and its owner is a businessman. It is the reader that decides the patronage and the journalist is not a businessman. The newspaper owner can go to federal government for oil lifting contract because he is a businessman. And the newspaper is an asset he can use. However, there are gatekeepers that are always mindful of what goes into the paper in line with the house policy.

How can newspapers close up the gap between print run and sales figures?
Newspapers’ Proprietors Association has been discussing it over the years. Sales will be increased when cost is lowered, especially distribution cost. Some newspapers distribute by air while others do it by printing simultaneously like The Nation. Early arrival to the readers affects sales a great deal.
If I were a businessman into newspapering, I will not distribute my paper to many parts of the North. The request for reprint by Mushin alone is more than what some papers send to many parts of the North. Unfortunately, many papers claim they are national.
What we should be having is community newspaper like the way the Concord Press of Nigeria did before the collapse of the company.

art as therapy

‘That art piece could heal you’
In most homes, offices, public buildings, recreation centers and churches you find different works of visual art in the form of painting, sculpture, illustration, backdrop and blind. Apart from being objects of beautification and store of wealth, can these collections also serve as therapy to the viewers? Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME examines the therapeutic power of art in Kent Onah’s paper, Art Therapy: Process and Production, presented at Life In My City Art Festival in Enugu.

Unlike drugs, the therapeutic essence of art (music, drama, drawing and paintings) can be realised effectively through the creation of a natural environment or activity that can generate healing for the body and soul. Art therapy engages the whole being and the healing one gets is not like drugs. It is an experience beyond drugs, as its curative healing is holistic.
Interestingly, colour therapy is one major aspect of art therapy, which was practised by ancient Egyptians by bouncing light off prisms and using the seven spectrum colours to heal the body, mind and spirit. Ancient civilization of India and China understood the negative and the positive, the stimulating and depressing effects of colours on human body and used them effectively to rejuvenate and heal. Some notable physicians like Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Celsus, Galen, used colours to treat their patients. Each colour has its own unique effect which can be used for healing and restoring body’s natural balance and harmony.
A senior lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Auchi Polytechnic, Kent Onah observed that when colours are properly used as therapy, they could promote a feeling of well being, energize the body and stimulate the mind. He noted that some colours are effective in raising spiritual consciousness while others develop intuitive powers, which could enhance confidence levels and self worth, or influence the feeling of love and hate, and that others could directly affect energy levels in people exhausted by chronic illness.
Speaking at the festival conference session, Onah who described art therapy as alternative to drugs, said it is also a process that helps people of all ages to express and understand feelings, interest, relationship, and self–perceptions through art activities. He added that It is useful in treating emotional trauma and grieve, as a supplement to pain and symptom management, to address psychological distress and encourage self-growth and actualization.
In his paper, Art Therapy: Process and production, the art teacher though identified eight key colours with which therapeutic powers of art could be realized, explained that the methods of applying art therapy for healing are varied and dependent not only on the therapist’s preference but, most importantly, on the clients level of receptivity. “It is most important that the therapist properly evaluates the individual who is been treated. We are each unique in our way. Therefore, our needs are different and our responses vary accordingly. So one must learn to evaluate each problem and then apply the tools that will help in that particular situation,” he said.
Art therapy, according to him, brings creativity into places like hospitals and nursing homes, places that could use other forms of healing rather than just the medical or psychiatric. He wondered why developments in the study of art therapy should not change altitudes of Nigerians toward creative arts.
On the key colours and their therapeutic powers on man, Onah described red as an energizer that stimulates the red blood cells and revitalizes the body. He however noted that the physical stimulation that red offers is not comfortable for everybody, because for some, it could energize in a positive manner and bring about increased circulation in the body whereas for others it might be over stimulating, harsh and even offensive. Yet, it is good for treating arthritis, waist pain, tiredness and depression, anemia, low blood pressure among others.
He said green colour is nature’s master healer as it brings rest, tranquility and peace to the soul. He said as a balancer, it could be used for healing in situation where there might be doubt as to the appropriate colour energy needed. “Colour therapist can use it for treating ulcer, boils, blood pressure, nerves, tension, breast cancer, etc” he added.
Onah who teaches in an art school famous for its Colour Masters phenomenon, described the healing attributes of other colours thus:
“Orange: Warm and invigorating: A nourishing colour, if used properly can revitalize like red. It is good for treating constipation, for cleaning mucous and in breaking up calcium deposits. It can relieve repressed anxieties and fear. It is good for fertility and kidney problem, impotence, self- esteem etc.
Yellow: Stimulating emotions and intellect: It has three fold functions; it can stimulate the nervous system, it deals with emotion and it activates the mental faculties. If used properly it can stimulate the brain cells and will give the ability to study, analyze and be the thinker, good for treating depression, nerves, liver and spleen, slow learning, stomach disorders, ulcer, diabetes etc.
Blue: For tranquility and meditation. This colour represents spiritual awareness, feeling of God-centeredness, it also signifies coolness, calmness, and inner peace. The blue person appreciates the beauty of life and nature. If people need to look back into the past, this colour will help lead then there, as it is a reflective colour. It can help people step ahead on the spiritual path. It is necessary, treating blood clots, bladder infections, burns, fever, ulcer, high blood pressure, internal infections, sore threats headache, ear infection, mental disorder etc.
Indigo: The colour for the third eye. It is associated with intuition. It has a rather mysterious connotation because it leads into the depths of ones being. It is associated with wisdom. It can be used for treating conditions of eyes, ears and sinus cataracts, nose bleeds and dry coughing, epilepsy, lack of motivation, mental and nervous disorders, problems with meditations, blindness, bad dreams, etc.
Violet: For spiritual dimension: It is a colour of very high spiritual vibration. Some of our greatest artists and musicians have been inspired by the use of the violet rays. It is said that Leonardo da Vinci meditated under violet rays falling through stained glass windows. Wagner, when composing the Parsifal music, had violet drapes around him, thus absorbing these extremely high spiritual vibrations. It is called the crown colour. It is necessary for treating baldness, cataracts, cerebrospinal, meningitis, cramps, epilepsy, eyes, insomnia, mental, nervous disorders, nervous, or irritated state of mind etc.
Brown: For information to other parts of the body. It is a colour for instinct, resonance, rhythm, duality, and healing. It is good for healing both physical and spiritual illnesses.”
To Onah, a painting could serve multiple purposes while the painter could become a therapist and his painting a tool for therapy. He however lamented that much has not been done in this direction, saying that tremendous opportunities exist for painters who are willing to develop themselves and use paintings as tool in colour therapy to serve the best interest of man.
But he stressed that art therapy would encourage increase in studio practice among visual artists, enable artists to diversify as well as create avenue for artists and other related professionals to have a steady income. More importantly, art therapy, he said, would create platform for collaboration between artists, medical doctors and psychologists in treating of patients.