Friday, 30 August 2019

Common Good, Value System & Incarceration of a C/River Journalist

30 July 2019 

Irrespective of how different we are or pretend to be, insofar as we exist and live in society, whether we are of the (same) Homo Sapien specie, race, ethnicity etc there is a meeting and melting point for all of us existent —plant, animals and the inanimate environment.

For the purpose of this article, this meeting point is what may be referred to as the —common good. Lexically, common good refers to 'that which benefits society as a whole, in contrast to the private good of individuals and sections of society'. This notion denies the disposition that 'society is and should be composed of atomised individuals living in isolation from one another' (Encyclopedia Britanicca).

Examples of common good abound but I like to refer to values/value systems. By values I simply mean those principles or standards of behaviour; or even judgement of what is important in life and cherished by a given individual or group. Also, values are a individual's or group of individual's beliefs about good behavior and what things are important'. I'd emphasis that values be seen as a collective property than an individualistic ethic because of the argument that it will constitute an objective standard against which actions and inactions are weighed in definition of our common ancestry.

So, our values or value system becomes the common good because of that singular component of the unity in diversity it sues for. The implication is that anything that challenges or attempts to erode our values undermines our collective identity. It even threatens our existence as whole.

Politically speaking, democracy is a value or constitute part of the value system of a given society, that is, it is a or part of a set of principles or standards of behaviour principal among is freedom, equality (and control). The notion of freedom in democracy invokes the concept of fundamental human rights which we understand as 'a right which is believed to belong to every person.' According to the United Nations, these human rights inhere in every human, despite the peculiarities of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other social standing. These basic rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and the list continues. 

Yes, historically, we may not have created democracy as a part of our (political) values but we have inculcated or attempted to inculcate it into our cultural substratum. Granted that we copied democracy from somewhere else and pasted it here. The question has always been why not paste it well?

If freedom of thought and that of speech constitute the political culture called democracy, if this disposition is inherent in the value system which we all should hold dear (because I doubt we hold it dear), if journalism helps with objectifying the freedom of speech and thought by reason of its professional objective, why do we sit at ease instead of stand at attention where and when a journalist is unlawfully arrested and illegally detained even by state actors? 

Do we as Nigerians have a common good? If yes, why have we all forgotten about Omoyele Sowore? Is democracy part of our value system? Then, how are we yet to even air our reservation against the arrest of journalist Agba Jalingo? Some of us don't even know that another journalist Dadiyata is missing.

It seems to me that journalism are the most endangered profession in Nigeria if not the whole world : according to AlJazeera 'The number of journalists and media workers killed while carrying out their jobs rose again in 2018, reversing a downward trend of the previous three years, according to a new report by an international trade association.' See statistics: Afghanistan: 16
Mexico: 11
Yemen: 9
Syria: 8
India: 7
Pakistan: 5
Somalia: 5
United States: 5
Philippines: 3
Ecuador: 3
Brazil: 3
Colombia: 2
Palestine: 2
Guatemala: 2.

Journalist Khashoggi who wrote critically of the Saudi Arabia's government was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2nd October 2018. His body has not been found. Again, the International Federation of Journalists IFJ President Philippe Leruth said in a report that 9 of 10 journalist murders remain unpunished in the world.

When society is in need of communication, rights needs they run to the journalist, but when that writer is persecuted and is in need of that society standing for him/her that society shies away. What a dilemma. 

If my notion of common good and values makes any sense especially to you the present reader, I will proceed to call on the Nigerian Union of Journalists NUJ in Cross River, Nigerian Medical Association NMA, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria PFN, Christian Association of Nigeria CAN, NURTW, NUMWN, civil society groups and opposition political parties in the state to wade into the agitations for the release or charge to court of Jalingo the publisher of #CrossRiverWatch. Keeping him in the detention of the Cross River Command of the Nigerian Police for 8 days now goes contrary to the ideals of democracy. Even if you've a better argument, do this for the purpose of the common good.

Efio-Ita Nyok

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