A review of Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics
Chief Olusegun Osoba

*Insists good,ethical journalism must remain watchword

*As academics,friends, associates,others eulogise erudite scholar,Prof. Akinfeleye at book launch

*FG says freedom of expression has been misconstrued to promoting hate speech,fake news,others

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA -FORMER governor of Ogun State,Aremo Olusegun Osoba, has tasked journalists to strive for excellence in the journalism practice just as he said all hands must be on deck to protect the integrity of journalists.

Osoba,who enjoined media practitioners to be standard torch bearers of excellence in matters of  practice of journalism,said there was “a lot to say and do in that regard especially with the disruption of the traditional journalism practice by the internet and the  new media; particularly the challenges of fake news.’

He spoke,Friday,in Abuja,at the presentation and launching of a book,titled:”Ralph Akinfeleye: The Bridge Between Academics and Practitioners”,in honour of His Academic Eminence,Prof. Ralph Afolabi Akinfeleye of the Mass Communication Department, University of Lagos.

The former governor,who was the Father of the Day, at the event where academics,friends and associates gathered to pay glowing tributes to Mass Communication scholar,was represented by the General Manager and Editor-In-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, Gbenga Adefaye.

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Describing Prof. Akinfeleye as “a standard torch bearer of excellence in matters of  practice of journalism”,Chief Osoba hailed the celebrant for writing his festschrift,noting that it would enrich scholars.

“Ralph Akinfeleye is a standard torch bearer of excellence in matters of  practice of journalism. He is the teacher-activist whose mantra is : Be the Fourth Estate of the Realm, NOT of the wreck.

“And there is a lot to say and do in that regard especially with the disruption of the traditional Journalism practice by the internet and the  new media; particularly the challenges of fake news. All hands must be on deck to protect the integrity of journalists. Good and ethical journalism must remain our watchword,”he said.

“Osoba, a journalist and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos State,thanked the collective of academics and friends for the festschrift on Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye.

His speech, through his representative at the event, read:”Let me thank the collective of academics and friends for this festschrift on Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye,who is being honoured for the unique global recognition as the first African elected as Council representative Africa at the World Journalism Education Congress ( WJEC).

“Our paths have crossed several times in the last few decades in the cause of journalism. He has spent a lifetime  producing quality journalists for our media, and examples abound. 

“We lead his products with practice examples. Ralph Akinfeleye, as a Professor of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos has been a  teacher of teachers. He is almost synonymous with that department. He has achieved distinction as a mentor of budding journalists. And he has quite some fans among the old brigade.  Ralph Akinfeleye is perhaps the most prominent of his kind in recent times.

“Prof Akinfeleye is not an armchair scholar. He has laurels to show for field and gown integration. 

“He made unique contributions as the  master-mind of the Community Concord newspapers chain for MKO Abiola in addition  to years of scholarship in the ivory tower. 

“He has maintained a consistent foray in setting practice standards. Most of the weights for judging press practice came from his marking schemes designed to adjudged merit on the various  platforms where he serves as chair of panel of judges for rating journalists and journalism excellence-. Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA); Golden Pen awards by Nigerian Breweries Plc, etc

“Ralph Akinfeleye is a standard torch bearer of excellence in matters of  practice of journalism. He is the teacher-activist whose mantra is : Be the Fourth Estate of the Realm, NOT of the wreck.

“And there is a lot to say and do in that regard especially with the disruption of the traditional Journalism practice by the internet and the  new media; particularly the challenges of fake news. All hands must be on deck to protect the integrity of journalists. Good and ethical journalism must remain our watchword.

“So much has Prof Akinfeleye done,  providing leadership that the University of Lagos where he spent all his life would not let go of him. Unilag has kept him as Chairman of Unilag Radio/TV for his pioneering role in securing the NBC licence for Campus radio. Even now, he  prospects for a commercial radio for that citadel of learning.

“We would like to remark him for his comportment, diligence, tenacity of purpose.

“He has done very well in building capacity of journalists. He is a reference point in assisting the state formulate the Communication Policy. He is probably one of the most knowledgeable in that regard, a mobile librariy, having participated in nearly all such efforts at having a National Communication Policy. He is at home designing criteria for judging the practice. He works to broaden the scope of Mass Communication education. 

“In all, Prof Akinfeleye must surely have his story to tell. Festschrift  is good for him. At least we celebrate him in his lifetime. But his own story told by self Should enrich scholarship. And we think that should also make a good read. 

“He should write the book, like Babatunde Jose, Alade Odunewu. Biodun Shobanjo’s The Will to Win has jus been launched. Akinfeleye, for his eminence must not pass like Jakande who translated with invaluable library with him.

“So it is good to celebrate Ralph as our icon. Congratulations to him. And to the clan that made this possible.”

Nigerians misconstruing freedom of speech to promoting hate speech,fake news,others-FG

Speaking at the event,the federal government alleged that freedom of speech which it noted,was “one of the basic principles of democracy” had been misconstrued by some Nigerians and media to promoting hate speech,fake news and other unethical practices.

Acting Director General of the National Broadcasting Corporation,NBC,Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, who reviewed the book,stated this in his work.

“Freedom of expression as one of the basic principles of democracy and how that has been misconstrued to mean absolute freedom to the extent of promoting hate speech, fake news and other unprofessional broadcast including maximising ownership influence on audience and content were extensively discussed,”he said while reviewing the book.

“This habit has not only been a threat to our democracy but to the corporate existence of a united Nigeria,”he said.

Noting that,”There are several contemparenous disruptions in the Nigerian media that ought to be examined”,Prof. Idachaba explained that:”The Reform of the broadcast industry majorly undertaken by the Buhari administration, some of which our celebrated icon offered his expertise and wisdom” lead to revolutionary changes in promting local content,protecting the local industry,checking monopolitic tendencies and boosting the local advert industry.

“The book has done well in this regard by unravelling the impacts of politics on broadcasting and succinctly explored the role of Nigeria’s broadcast regulator, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in minimising violations and ensuring the continued democratic governance in Nigeria. 

“The book made it clear that, freedoms of speech and of the press are two controversial concepts that are essential in any democratic society. It has paid attention to this by going to show how such freedoms were curtailed by the very persons that supposed to protect it. It’s made clear in the book that such freedoms are not absolute and are difficult to determine,”he added.

He described the book as a “good reference material in the field of mass communication, especially in the aspects of media literacy, media and society and communication policy.”

“It would immeasurably guides communication stakeholders and students pertaining current development in mass communication field. The book contributors have provided detailed explanations in their bid to explain each phenomenon,”he said.

Noting that “Professor Ralph Akinfeleye’s name is synonymous with Mass Communication in Nigeria”, Idachaba added that he was,”A robust and transcontinental, trans generational scholar.”

” He is an erudite scholar, accomplished communication guru, a distinguished professor, an epitome of scholarship in Africa’s media space whose publications traverse the planet. With over 40 years of unblemished impactful career that saw the successful training, coaching and mentoring of tens of supervisees and students who are now professors themselves. Prof. Akinfeleye is indeed the grandfather of Nigeria’s Mass Communication. He has contributed hugely. A graduate of the world first school of journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia, USA, Prof. Akinfeleye bagged masters and PhD degrees between 1974 and 1978. His contributions to the gowns and towns are indeed commendable, therefore, coming up with a collection of essays in his honor is not surprising,”he said. 

According to him,”The title of the book “Ralph Akinfeleye: The bridge between academics and practitioners’ conveys the true meaning of his selfless services rendered and still rendering to his fatherland.”

” Today, one can say without any fear of contradiction that, there is no state in Nigeria where you cannot find either direct or indirect student of Prof. Akinfeleye. He either taught you or taught your teachers. 

“This book which is an intellectual product of seasoned communication scholars from different communication disciplines focuses on journalism education, media and society, health communication, broadcasting, politics and regulation, digital communication as well as communication policy. Based on the quality of contributions, the book is going to be one of the powerful reference materials on media, society and culture in Nigeria, Africa and the world. 

“The book’s theoretical and empirical underpinning in offering practical solutions to communication challenges is quite central to our democratic aspiration for development and sustainability. The book’s methodological approach will to a larger extent add value to empirical investigation and scholarship in Nigeria,”he noted.

Vanguard News Nigeria 

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