MATERNAL MORTALITY IN RURAL NIGERIA AND ITS IMPLICATION   

                 FOR   RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

By

           Sugh, Elizabeth Terngu

                                        

                                                                  

                                                             Abstract

Women are a formidable force in the development of a nation. However, maternal mortality is a challenge facing women because Nigeria as a third world country lacks an adequate and strong health care delivery system, infrastructure and machinery. The worst hit by this inadequacy are the largely rural poor, who even where healthcare facilities exist, find them beyond their reach. Factors such as illiteracy, lack of awareness and poverty militate against rural women to the extent that obstetric care is seen as a luxury. This paper examines the causes of maternal mortality in rural Nigeria, bringing to light its implication for development, which include: declining agricultural productivity, ineffective child care and socialization.

 INTRODUCTION

Child birth is a universally celebrated event, an occasion for dancing, fireworks, flowers or gifts, Yet for many thousands of women each day, child bearing is experienced not as the joyful event it should be, but as personal hell that may end in death.  Human reproduction is a vital aspect of human society and as a result, there is need to ensure that the health of the reproducers (i. e mothers) is adequately taken care of to ensure sustainability of reproduction. However, over half a million women worldwide die every year as a result of complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth (BHF, 2005). Maternal mortality is a huge problem in many developing countries and unfortunately, Nigeria is not an exception.  According to a WHO (2004) report, Nigeria’s mortality rate is the second highest in the world after India. 1,100 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This implies that many children are tragically left motherless each year as a result of maternal deaths.  A WHO ( 2004 ) report reveals that  Nigeria accounts for 10% of these deaths. For every woman who dies, many more suffer from serious conditions that can affect them for the rest of their lives.

            The emphasis on rural areas is based on revelations by studies that over 70 per cent of the Nigerian population lives in the rural areas, with little or no proper health care services and facilities, and even where they exist, striking rural poverty hinders most of them from accessing the services. It is as a result of this rural condition that a NDHC (2001) report asserts that there are differences in the sources of ante- natal care for births in urban and rural areas resulting in about 40 per cent of urban women receiving ante natal care as compared to only 19 per cent of rural women. Rural-urban variation in antenatal care can be traced to higher concentration of healthcare facilities and medical personnel in urban areas.

Similarly, Olusanya & Amiegheme (2000) noted that Nigeria lacks maternal clinics especially in rural areas, making  obstetric care a luxury in those areas. In the same manner, Ponle (2007) reported in a study carried out in northern Nigeria that maternal mortality is severe in rural areas especially in Nigeria’s predominately rural Islamic Northern state where women marry at an early age and owing to complications and lack of care die during child birth.

It is unfortunate that Trado-medical care which is supposed to offer alternative healthcare does not provide adequate antenatal care, resulting in high rates of maternal mortality in rural Nigeria.

Maternal mortality has serious implication for development. Evidence abounds and indicates that women are the livewire of rural development. In line with this position, Tom (1987) submitted  that women grow at least half of the world’s food, dominate in household activities, engage in food processing and preservation, generate cash income to satisfy basic household needs, engage in back breaking labour, while supplying the household with water, and fuel. He further stressed that women produce, raise and educate children, operate as health workers, teachers, and are nutritionists in their own rights.  Women’s absence caused by death during child birth signifies a blow to agricultural development, child care and socialization. It also affects commerce and trade, nutrition, environmental sanitation and health care delivery system. It is upon this realization that improved maternal mortality has been incorporated in the Millennium Development Goals MDGs, as one of the prerequisites for development and for poverty reduction.

It is against this background that this paper attempts to examine the causes of maternal mortality, assess its impact on rural development and explore potential for enhancing safe motherhood.  The first section is of this paper is the introduction, and the second segment attempts a conceptual clarification and provides a theoretical perspective. The third and fourth sections examine the causes of maternal mortality and brings to the fore its effect on rural development in the 21st century. The last segment proffers suggestions for safe motherhood.

Conceptual clarification

Maternal Mortality: According to ICD- 10 (2004) maternal mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management. UN (2004) also defines maternal mortality as death of a woman within 42 days of delivery, spontaneous abortion, or termination, provided death is associated with pregnancy or its treatment.

Rural Development: The term rural development is both wide and complex.  Rural development is seen by Diejomoah (1973) as a process of not only increasing the levels of capita income in the rural areas but also the standard of living of the rural population, measured by food and nutrition, level of education, housing, recreation, and security. This implies that rural development is more than mere acquisition of capita income but rather a multidimensional process that cut cross all aspects of human living.  According to Chambers (1983), rural development is all about improving the living standard of the mass of low income population residing in the rural areas, and making the process of their development self sustaining. He further explained that the ambit of rural development is therefore very wide as it includes generation of employment, more equitable access to arable land, equitable distribution of income, improvement in law and order, creation of incentives, and opportunities for individuals to realize their full potentials through education, and sharing in the decision and actions which affect their lives. In a nutshell, rural development is the result of many interacting factors.

Theoretical Framework

This study adopts a functionalist perspective. The functionalist perspective is used to understand the challenges maternal mortality poses to development. To the functionalist, procreation is a vital function of the family that prevents extinction and ensures continuity of society.  From the functionalist perspective, Mothers through the family institution are important agents of socialisation and care of the young. These functions performed by the woman in the family meet societal need and function for the overall good of the society. Maternal mortality can therefore be analysed from how it affects the functions performed by the woman in the family, the direct effects of this phenomenon and indirect consequences for the family and societal development. For instance, when a mother dies through child birth, the family is deprived of   the procreative, socialization and child care roles she performs. This deprivation directly or indirectly affects the social, political, cultural and economic functioning of society. The multiplier effect of this was well elaborated by Haralambos (1980) when he noted that a malfunction in one part affects the general functioning of the whole resulting in disequilibrium.  This situation leads to a malfunctioning which in the long run disrupts the development of any society.

            The foregoing explanation suggests that to prevent  malfunctioning and disequilibrium of the whole society, maternal mortality must be curtailed, so that women can fully perform their family and societal roles without being cut short in their most productive years.  If safe motherhood is enhanced, women will contribute their maximum quota to overall development in general and rural development in particular.

Causes of maternal mortality in rural Nigeria

The causes of maternal mortality are not only limited to the rural areas but are also evident in urban areas of Nigeria. Nevertheless, this paper focuses on rural areas because they are more vulnerable and most affected by maternal mortality.  A wide range of factors account for maternal mortality in rural Nigeria, amongst them are the following: Most maternal deaths are caused by complications of pregnancy, obstructed labour and abortion. (WHO, 2004) Some of the medical causes attributed to it are: – hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, obstructed labour, and abortion. In the same vein, Henshaw (1998) posit that some women die as a result of heart breaking injuries sustained during child birth. According to him, prolonged obstructed labour for several days without appropriate medical attention may cause the babies and their mothers to die. Most of these deaths however, can be avoided if these women have sufficient healthcare facilities which are accessible, and affordable.

Unsafe Abortion: Unsafe abortion in rural areas is another major cause of maternal mortality. Most rural women who have inaccurate or no information about contraceptive use get pregnant outside wedlock and resort to terminating the pregnancy owing to the high level of stigmatization attached to it. In attempting to terminate such pregnancies, they drink herbal concoctions ( of roots, potash, detergents, barks of trees) and  patronize quacks or traditional doctors who use herbs that may not be effective and  may cause complications such as infections, hemorrhage,  injury to the cervix and uterus and may eventually lead to death of mother and child.

Poverty : Poverty is another prominent cause of maternal mortality in rural areas. Statistics from the FOS (1996) indicate that 67 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line and are ruralites, and that the greater percentage of the core poor in the rural areas are women. This implies that women are the poorest amongst the poor.  The data further revealed that most of the rural poor are unable to access good drinking water and cannot afford primary health care. Poverty makes it difficult for rural women to afford transportation and payment of bills. Since they cannot afford medical bills, antenatal and post natal care is seen as a luxury. Thus, complications that could have been prevented if antenatal or post natal care was received are experienced by rural mothers, leading to maternal mortality. Related to poverty is nutritional deficiency for pregnant mothers. Nutritional deficiency is a common phenomenon among pregnant women residing in the rural areas; with little or no access to balanced diet meals, they suffer from anemia which creates complications during childbirth and increases the risk of maternal mortality.

Lack of Education /Awareness: Ajayi (1989) asserts that in almost all African societies, formal education of women especially of rural women has lagged behind. This implies that in Nigeria, the majority of the women in rural areas are illiterate and this affects them tremendously such that even where health care facilities exist, they do not attend antenatal and post natal care. Because of ignorance the importance of antenatal care is underestimated and danger signals during pregnancy and labour are ignored, leading to maternal mortality that could have been avoided.

Inadequate health care facilities and personnel: The high maternal mortality rates in Nigeria cannot be explained by poor antenatal care attendance and provision alone but also as a result of inadequate healthcare facility, obstetric and healthcare personnel. The shortage of personnel denies most mothers who would have otherwise accessed healthcare facilities before and after child birth. However, In some cases, health care facilities are accessible but the capacity of the health care personnel to take care of serious complications is poor, resulting in a high mortality rate in Nigeria. Similarly, Udele (2000) reported that lack of essential supplies and trained personnel to handle complications during pregnancies and child birth leads to maternal mortality.

Cultural beliefs and practices: In most rural societies in Nigeria, there is high regard for obnoxious traditional beliefs and values that influence everyday lifestyles and contribute to maternal mortality. Amongst these beliefs and practices that affect maternal mortality are the following:

  1. a.      Food Taboos For instance Ityavyar (1999) reveals that women’s eating habits are still guided by food taboos which contribute to anemia and other forms of malnutrition. Among such taboos are restrictions on women from eating meat and eggs which are a vital part of their diet in pregnancy. Anemia and malnutrition can cause complications for women which can lead to maternal mortality.
  2. b.      Male Domination: With the stiff cultural and religious set up of male domination especially in rural settings, most women in northern Nigeria  require the consent of their husbands before going to hospitals for child birth. In cases where their husbands are not available to consent, such women if faced with complications during child birth may not be taken to hospital and may end up bleeding to death or dying from complications of the pregnancy, (WHO 2000)
  3. c.       Female   Genital Mutilation (FGM) This practice is most common among people of Northern, Western and Eastern Nigeria. It is a widely used gender bias traditional practice in Nigeria; it involves the cutting off of girls’ clitoris and some other parts of the vagina. This practice aims to reduce promiscuity and enhance fidelity in marriage. Although much has been done to eradicate the practice of FGM, and increase awareness of its harmful consequences, it is still widely practised, and a major indirect cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria.  Pain, infection, and hemorrhage are immediate follow ups of FGM, meaning that FGM can be a direct cause of death. (Ehon, 2005) The associated risk of being infected with HIV and tetanus cannot be excluded. Scarring is one of the major problems following FGM. A scar tissue stretches poorly in child labour, this narrows the vaginal passage and the stretching easily leads to perineal tears and hemorrhage during child birth, which due to inadequate emergency obstetric care are major causes of maternal deaths in rural areas of Nigeria.
  4. d.      Also related to this is the traditional practice of inserting concoctions such as hot herbs, and alom,   into a woman’s vagina to increase vaginal firmness and increase sexual pleasure to her male partner or husband.  Some of these concoctions are dangerous to the human body and are capable of causing complications during pregnancies or childbirth which can lead to maternal mortality in most rural areas in Nigeria.

Lack of good rural roads and transportation

Rural areas of Nigeria lack adequate health care facilities, and even where they exist, they are long distances away from the reach of most rural dwellers. As a result of inaccessibility,  poor connection of road networks and lack of transportation,  it takes time and money to travel to a health care facility for check- up, and worse still,  in  cases of emergency.  A study by Udele (2000) indicated that sometimes, the only vehicle can be a motorcycle. If a pregnant woman is unable to climb the bike, somebody has to drive to town, bring a car and then drive the woman to hospital, and this takes plenty of time and may be a reason for not going for antenatal check-ups. In cases of emergency, it puts mother and baby in danger and contributes to high incidence of maternal mortality in rural areas, as most times they spend so many hours on the way and reach the hospitals when it is too late.

HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS infection is an increasing threat and becoming a major cause of maternal mortality in highly affected countries such as Nigeria. This is because rural mothers living with HIV/AIDS have little or no access to antiretroviral drugs to either enhance their living or prevent their unborn babies from infection. This situation weakens their immunity system leading to illnesses and other opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and malaria which can cause complication and death in or after pregnancy. Such mothers   also risk transmission of HIV to their unborn children. A WHO (2004) report that when such children are given birth to, they die before their first birthday, and about 60 per cent die before age 5.

Domestic violence:  Ehon  (2005) reports that domestic violence through physical assault such as hitting, punching, beating, dragging on the floor and kicking of pregnant women by their husbands  has led to complications like hypertensive disorders, hemorrhage, abortions etc. and subsequent death of pregnant women in Nigeria. Wife battering, the use of violence against women according to Ehon is an assertion of the man’s prerogative as husband.

 Implications of maternal mortality to rural development in the 21st century

            The tragic and untimely loss of mothers during pregnancies or childbirth does not only affect their immediate family members, but communities and the society at large. It affects family nutrition, commerce and trade, school attendance and performance of their children, and leads to reduced agricultural productivity especially in rural areas where women contribute enormously to agricultural development. Maternal mortality touches almost every facet of life and the society as a whole. Increased maternal mortality causes increased infant mortality, motherless children, nutritional deficiency, deficiency in socialisation, depopulation of women within the productive age, and other attendant consequences.

Women play a vital role in child socialization, inculcating desirable societal values and norms which are vital ingredients for development. Haralambos (1980) posits that primary socialization within the early years of childhood is important because during this period, acceptable norms, values and culture are learned and internalized by the child, making  him/ her fit into the society, influencing a child’s personality into adulthood.  With increased maternal mortality, mothers as important agents of socialisation are absent, and socialisation of children is left in the hands of whoever they interact with, without any form of reinforcement or punishment for good or bad behaviour as the case may be. This situation predisposes children to insufficient and ineffective socialisation, with tendencies for indulging in societal vices like truancy, crime, robbery, pick pocketing, prostitution, and other deviant acts which make them societal misfits. In every society, antisocial behaviour affects development and rural development especially in the 21st century.

Maternal mortality portends that children in the family will have no capable hands to look after them; this makes them easily malnourished and prone to ill health. UNICEF (2008) asserts that children who are tragically left motherless, are ten times more likely to die within two years of their mother’s death. Also a society with sick children cannot prosper because it puts pressure on the few available health facilities while at the same time it robs adults of time and resources that should be used for work on the farm or workplace spent in caring and providing for the sick. Furthermore, it also reported that orphaned girls are more likely to become more sexually active at a much younger age because of pressing economic hardship or lack of parental supervision which may lead to early marriage, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion. These factors are also leading causes and consequences of maternal mortality which have adverse consequences on development.

Maternal mortality leaves family members and friends psychologically and emotionally traumatized and stressed  for a long period of time. According to Keil  (2004) stress  makes an individual t constantly tense, irritable, restless, fearful, threatened,  worried, and on edge such that he/she is in panic and has trouble concentrating. This affects both children and adults related to the deceased in school and work place to the extent that their educational performance and work place productivity decline. Decline in productivity of school and work place affects development negatively; development cannot occur in an environment of grief and depression due to underutilization of potential and lack of zeal for work.

Agriculture plays a key role in the economic development of a nation. Rural women supply 70 per cent of the work in production of food crops, besides 100 per cent of the work in food processing, 50 per cent in animal husbandry, and 60 per cent in marketing (FAO 1974).  If   women occupy such a crucial role in agricultural development, and mothers who are victims of maternal mortality fall within the most productive female population, the outcome is that the most viable labour force in agriculture will decline, leading to an overall decline in  agricultural productivity . Disruption of food production can have devastating consequences for all aspect of health by undermining the nutritional status of a population.   These are serious implications for rural development in the 21st century because food security, foreign exchange and raw materials for industries will be threatened and rural development cannot occur in the midst of these threats.

The rate of maternal mortality in rural Nigeria has an adverse effect on the healthcare delivery system because women form a formidable force in health care provision in Nigeria. Mothers care for the new born and infants, they have an important task in health counseling and education not only for the women but also within the family and community. Women are also involved in sanitation and water supply. Sani (2001) has stressed the involvement of mothers in intervention programmes via the health information sharing systems, sharing health knowledge, beliefs, and fears among themselves, between generation and among peers. They are therefore an effective link of dissemination of health information in any nation. This is no doubt of great importance to a country like Nigeria especially among the rural dwellers where there is urgent need for health education in preventive health problems to enhance healthy living.

Women are catalysts for development in society and the rural areas in particular. Women are heavily involved in rural development, such as agricultural production, environmental sanitation, commerce and trade, conflict resolution, education and information dissemination. Thus, their absence via maternal mortality means a vital component of rural development is missing. This missing link affects not only rural development but development of the Nigerian society as a whole considering the role of ruralites in overall societal development.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Maternal mortality is a multidimensional problem which requires more than a simple solution. Thus the following recommendations are suggested to enhance safe motherhood.

  1. Government must prioritise provision of health care facilities and accessibility especially in the rural areas where they are mostly lacking. This means that there must be committed political and social leaders backing the course of safe motherhood. Government must provide more hospitals in rural areas, sufficient equipment, and skilled medical personnel.  In doing this government   and community should improve on rural roads to make them more accessible so that risk of mothers and children associated with delay on motor bikes or bicycles during emergency obstetric or post partum care will be avoided and mothers’ chances of staying alive will be enhanced. The government must also ensure that obstetric care is included in the national health plan, including poverty reduction strategies and projects.
  2. Anti Retro Viral therapy should be made available and accessible to mothers who have HIV/AIDS to prevent complications in pregnancy. It is true that complications cannot be predicted but it is important to pay special attention to risk factors that are possible to notice with a simple examination. This means that antenatal attendance must be encouraged among rural women. This can be achieved through campaigns and education so that risks and dangers of pregnancy can be recognised in time and complications and deaths can be avoided.
  3. Cultural factors such as early marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and religious factors of women seeking permission from husbands in times of danger before attending hospitals should be discouraged. This can be done by enlightening traditional rulers and religious leaders who are the custodians of these practices so that the trickledown effect can be transcended to their communities and other members.
  4. Nigerian government should implement their commitment to providing free ante and post natal care and free services for children under five years and free compulsory education of girls up to senior secondary school certificate examination. This will imply that more women will now avail themselves of ante natal and post partum care without fear of paying hospital bills.  Education functions to change the behavioural patterns of individuals in some desirable ways. This means that it will increase the knowledge people already possess, empower them to perform actions which otherwise they would not be able to perform and to develop appreciation, insight and understanding of the world around them. (Aboho & Moudumogu, 2005). With improved education for girls, there will be improved awareness of the importance of antenatal care, identification of danger signs in pregnancy and labour and subsequently a break from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  5. Also, education will increase awareness and use of Family planning. Thus, their usage should be encouraged among rural women. This can be done through campaigns and education; because spacing children appropriately can enhance mothers’ health and help reduce maternal and infant mortality. In the same vein, it helps prevent unwanted pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Diseases including HIV/AIDS.

If maternal mortality is reduced to the barest minimum in Nigeria, there will be improved participation of the women folk in development programmes and projects in all sphere of the society.

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  • Ø Sugh Elizabeth TERNGU is of the Department of Sociology, Benue State University Makurdi. Nigeria

REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES IN NIGERIA

Some Ethical Considerations

By Daniel Ude Asue

 

Introduction

The Nigerian weekly magazine, Newswatch in its June 20, 2011 edition celebrated in a grand style the arrival of test-tube babies in Nigeria with the publication of special articles on this. In fact, the first reported cases of this technology surfaced in Enugu and Lagos in the 1980s but the controversy surrounding them could not allow them to go further (Golden, 1986). However, with these recent reports as seen from the reactions of many people across the Nigerian society, a lot of people are happy that infertile couples too can taste the joy of parenthood. But the implications of these developments have also called for an ethical evaluation of such technological interventions. In this paper, the term ‘reproductive technologies’ will be used to describe the processes employed in producing these babies. At the same time, the term will be limited to “all procedures that replace, in part or totally, the natural (by sexual intercourse) process of conception and in utero gestations” (McCormick, 1979:1454). The technologies are bogged down in acronyms: IVF (In Vitro Fertilization); ET (Embryo Transfer); GIFT (Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer); LTOT (Low Tubal Ovum Transfer); PROST (Pronuclear Stage Transfer); AID (Artificial Insemination Donor) among others, and several new ones on the increase

It is likely that our perception of life, our deepest idea of what it is to be human has been altered in significant ways by such developments as modern reproductive technologies. Medical ethicists are gravely measuring the slipperiness of the slope on which humanity is now teetering. Some ethicists ask where the mastery of embryology and genetics is leading, indeed where it has already taken us. Will these procedures promote or undermine the human person? Are they overstepping the line of human creative stewardship? On what criteria do we decide? And who decides? (McCormick, 1981:303). Is public regulation called for? How we go about these questions will tell how we will be acting in the next generation. This paper attempts to address some of these questions with the intent of engaging Catholic sexual ethics and medical sciences in dialogue.

The Moral Law

The moral law is regarded as a rule of conduct, which has its grounds in the nature, or will of God and not in the nature of human beings or in the consequences involved in obedience or disobedience to the moral law (Wilde, 1980:833). It is in the light of this “that the church teaches that man need not rely on his intellect alone to determine what is moral and what is not. God has given man the gift of divine revelation, available through the scriptures and through the tradition of the church. Divine revelation reveals to us moral truths that we cannot grasp by the power of reason and also affirms truths that are accessible through the natural law” (Smith, 1991:69). In this direction it gears toward the human good, which is that which perfects and completes human nature (Lawler, Boyle and Mary, 1998:73-74). In this sense Grieez gives the formulation of the first principle of morality thus: “In voluntarily acting for human goods and avoiding what is opposed to them one ought to choose and otherwise will those and only those possibilities whose willing is compatible with a will toward integral human fulfillment” (McMahon, 1987:23-24). According to definition then, every genuine moral law must be good and holy in the sense that it must guide human activity to contribute to the realization of the final goal of human history and of creation, and that it prevents people from obstructing the attainment of this end (Peschke, 1993:109).

When we are following the aforementioned path with applicability to the modern reproductive technologies, we may say that at creation God mandated humankind to gain dominion over the earth and subdue it (Gen 1:28). This is interpreted in the sense of creative stewardship. God is the author of creation to whom we owe our responsibilities (Marshall, 1960:22). Creation has an end that gears towards a destination in God. The human person as a creature in God’s image occupies a special place. As such a person’s right over his/her body is not the same with other things. For he/she is not his/her own master, a person has a right that is dependent on a will other his/her own (that of the creator). Humankind’s dependence is not a dependence of finality. Since a person’s end is to establish in one’s self the reign of the Spirit of charity, one can do so only by submitting self to the plan itself which is written in one’s nature and which expresses one’s likeness to God. Seen from this perspective, the human body takes on, as the instrument of the soul, a value which lifts it above the level of mere animal body, and we recognize in its activities a destiny and mode which cannot be arbitrarily modified (Flood, 1957:38).

The church holds that there is an order imprinted into the nature of human beings, an activity, that of sex, which has a particular purpose, namely, the transmission of life, and which has, in consequence, its particular laws (Griese, 1987:39). So in accepting modification by technical skills on the human body, we should keep in mind that the human person is not a mere reproductive or purely biological mechanism for his/her existence has a transcendental value. The Second Vatican Council gives expression to this thought when it advises: “Let all be convinced that human life and its transmission are realities whose meaning is not limited by the horizons of this life only: their true evaluation and full meaning can only be understood in reference to man’s eternity.” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 51). If we are to follow this path, we might be interpreted as saying: “The end does not justify the means.” Simply put, the mere fact the result envisaged, in this case procreation, is attained by these means, (reproductive technologies) does not justify the use of the means themselves; nor is the desire of the couple to have s child, in itself legitimate, sufficient to establish the legitimacy of having recourse to the modern reproductive technologies which would fulfill the desire.

Tensions and Fears

There is startling controversy over the morality of reproductive technologies today. Protagonists recognize infertility not only as a marital problem but also as a moral and social problem whose causes and remedies are within the reach of discovery by modern reproductive technologies. For them, since the urge and desire to acquire children is a natural right of couples, developed techniques of procreation whose eminent side effects are not beyond corrective medication can be considered morally, ethically and legally licit, so they argue. They seem to be saying: ‘They are simply correcting God’s mistakes.’ But taking the reverse opinion, the antagonists question the whole morality behind the technologies. In this regard, Donald Fleming concluded long ago, “The biological revolutions… are not antireligious but simply unreligious.” (Campbell, 1969:80). Thus Kelvin Kelly maintains that the prevailing moral climate is that what matters ethically is what people ‘feel’ (hence it is called ‘emotivism’). Moral statements simply express our personal preferences and make no claim to truth. But fundamental moral criteria are absolute and cannot depend on the personal preferences of individuals (Kelly, 1993:28-29).

Though the consistent ethic of life position of the Catholic tradition on this subject matter has provoked a lot of debates, Dr Leon Kass synthesizing the medical and ecclesial points of view submits: “Medicine’s proper task is to cure underlying pathologies and not to alleviate human desires, because human desires are infinite in number. With in vitro fertilization proceeding from TOT and GIFT, the woman is still infertile, it does not alleviate it.” (Reproductive Technologies, 1988:166).

With the tensions and complexities, we must also take into cognizance Dietriech Bonheoffer’s remarks when he said, responsible action “has not to decide simply right and wrong and between good and evil but between right and right and between wrong and wrong” (Lobo, 1991:255). Admittedly, the recent revolutions in medical technologies have brought about dramatic changes in the nature of family life. They have offered us many exciting opportunities for co-creating and supporting human life, rededicating ourselves to human dignity, and nurturing these sacred values within their most successful context, the family. “On the other hand, they also present new occasions for the expression of the more macabre and violent side of human nature. Often these advances have come well before any widespread reflection on their desirability or morality.” (Fisher, 1993:1) At this point, we will explore some aspects of the procedures which have major implications for us. What are we likely to see happening in these procedures in the next decades? Below is a discussion on some of the implications:

i. Bodily Life and Health

It is a moral certainty that, “respect for a person’s life, his bodily and mental integrity and health belongs to the fundamental rights of man. To these rights correspond the duty of respecting the health and life of others as well as one’s own person.” (Peschke, 1994:243). This is tampered with by the technologies. Many fertilized eggs and embryos are discarded and thrown away in order to get a suitable one. This could be another form of abortion. Again, the procedures create multiple pregnancies resulting in the destruction of the “excess” numbers through the techniques of “selective reduction of pregnancies.” (Dunn, 1992:128-130) An embryo is a potential human being who must be treated in a special way and its life respected. In contrast to this, over 3000 embryos were destroyed in England in August 1996 in accordance with the legislation passed by the British Parliament in 1990 (Independent, 1996). John Hass, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and a consultant to the NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities, while commenting on this says:

IVF is also expensive, costing at least $10,000 per attempt. Over 90 percent of the embryos created perish at some point in the process. In a desire to hold down costs and enhance the odds of success, doctors sometimes implant five or more embryos in the mother’s womb. This may result in more babies than a couple wants. In Canada, one woman gave birth to five children engendered by IVF. She had wanted only one, so she sued her doctor for “wrongful life”, demanding that he pay for the cost of raising the four children she did not want. (Hass, 2011)

Again, medical complications do abound. For IVF in a surrogate mother, the pregnancy itself is not without danger of hemorrhages, malignancy, permanent damage to the mother’s (surrogate) health, and toxemia (Duncan, Dustan and Welbourn, 1981:154; Littleton and  Engebretson, 2009:77-102; Gugucheva, 2010:17-23).  Another problem has arisen that is connected with AIDS and also IVF when a third party is involved. According to O’Mahony,

In 1985, the Observer (3October) reported that four Australian women had been infected with the killer virus AIDS through artificial insemination with donated semen. Earlier, the Irish Times (22 August) had carried a report in which specialists had alleged that there is no method at present which can establish the absence of AIDS virus from semen (O’Mahony, 1990:43).

With these technologies, it is now possible for women over 60 years, using eggs donated by younger women, to conceive and carry children to term. But French doctors and scientists have reached an apparent consensus that giving birth after the age of 55 is just too dangerous to be permitted. They say the average physical health of an older woman- cardiovascular dysfunction, nervous-system disorders, bone fragility – requires an immediate vigilance to ensure that she can carry her baby to term. The experts also argue that children born to older women risk having weaker immune systems (Beck, et al., 1994:42).

 

ii. Sociological complexities

There are foreseen short term and long term effects not only on the ‘object’ of the actions but also on the subject/agent and on society at large. These effects may be intangible, hard to anticipate and measure, but may bring undesirable and almost irreversible changes in the way parents regard their children, in the way men and women regard their bodily life, the most intimately involving personal interaction within marital life (Golden, 1986:178). The British Catholic Bishops captured the situation better when they said:

Each of these changes, bad in themselves, would also make more difficult, in principle and in practice, resistance to… the general trivialization of sexual intercourse; commercialization …of reproductive activity; selection of children on eugenic grounds; the moulding of children’s most basic characteristics by parents, technicians and the interested persons, groups and governments; and ever more extensive resort to that awesome instrument which is (sic) ruthless and inhuman, the embryos bank (Catholic Bishops, n.d:18).

The technologies are producing a change in the social structure of the traditional family. With sperm, ova, and embryo banks, married couples and single persons willing and able to do so choose gamete materials from these stockpiles on the basis of assembled biographic information.  H.J. Muller asserts: “It will lead to significant improvements in the quality of human life.” (McLean, 1974:144). The problem here is, how can parents have a normal relationship with a child that was conceived in a laboratory? Can a child have a normal relationship with parents that are not biologically his/hers? Can we consider how easily this course of action can lead the way to being wide open to marital infidelity and general lowering of moral standards?

The third party involvement offends the exclusive character of marriage relationship. Is this not a new form of adultery? Technical adultery? When a donor sperm or ova are used, there is the possibility of a psychological effect on the non-contributing partners feeling alienated by the process and this may affect their sense of not being the true parent of the child. At the end, these procedures foster an attitude of genetic irresponsibility on the part of the donors. The more serious thing: “AID produces large numbers of half brothers and half sisters who are unknown to one another.” (Dunn, 1992:146).

iii. Human rights infringements

Intrinsic to humanity are certain fundamental properties in nature, which are present in every conceivable situation and that needs to be always respected for a viable society. These have been recognized and accepted. “Human beings have certain rights, irrespective of any circumstances.” (Six, 1992, p.11) Bearing this in mind,

In 1959 the United Nations adopted a “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” which supplemented the United Nations’ statement entitled “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. One reason for the supplementary Declaration was stated in its Preamble as being because: “The child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”  (Hilgers and Horan, 1973:116)

It is indeed unfortunate that these technologies unwittingly ignore this. For instance, it would, of course be nonsense to argue that if a child will be born into such circumstances which will be seriously harmful or detrimental to it, then there is a moral obligation not to initiate that process. Take the case of a child being brought up by parents with a positive attitude toward homosexual behavior, which would influence his upbringing and education. One would be justified, to consider such influences undesirable, and conclude with even more force that to bring a child into existence in such conditions would inevitably result in serious infringement of its natural right (Curran and McCormick, 1993:262) to a sound conscience formation. These considerations are thoughtlessly rejected by the medical technologies of procreation when they make it permissible for homosexual and single-parentage families to have children. Should a homosexual and/or single person (men and women) be allowed to have children? What is the status of such children? Socially disadvantaged in many ways is the psychological and emotional development of the child. “It appears to be the case that children are in danger of being emotionally and sexually (in a broad sense) deprived, or perhaps even harmed, in their upbringing if a father and mother are not at hand to cooperate in that delicate and demanding task.” (Curran and McCormick, 1993:262). No doubt there are of course individual instances where such dangers are met with considerable success or perhaps with qualified success by single parents. But this does not appear to affect the conclusion that to deliberately set about creating one-parent families is a line of action which will not be in the best interest of the child in such families.

iv) Personal Dignity and Well-Being

What is the value of the human person? Christian anthropology holds the human person as the imago Dei – i.e. created in the image and likeness of God (Gen1:27). Our worth is based upon this imparted sharing in the divine life. The life with himself to which God has called us constitutes the basis, good and meaning of our existence. This sacredness of human life demands that human beings are to be respected and protected (Maestri, 1986:28). However, the technologies often go contrary to this. Surrogacy for one reduces the personal dignity of the woman as the practice turns her into an incubator where an egg and sperm are “laid” (fertilized) in the laboratory (in glass) and hatched in her womb. She becomes a working instrument. It is more disturbing when we observe the commercialization of human beings, as they become objects of barter in embryo banks. But “human beings, and particularly the most vulnerable, children, are simply not for sale even to benevolent buyers, because people have an inherent worth that places them above the vicissitudes of the market.” (Kilner, Cameron and  Schiedermayer, 1995:233).

We have come to believe all human beings are equal; but even more firmly we are taught to believe that each of us is unique. Is that idea undercut by cloning? That is, if you can theoretically, deliberately, make any number of copies of an individual, is each one special? How special can clones feel, knowing they were replicated like smile buttons? (Gelman, et al., 1993:49)

The issue of donor involvement in procreation creates a situation of multi-parentage exposing the resulting child to the danger of a major psychological crisis regarding personal identity and all the harmful consequences flowing from this. Theoretically, a baby can now have about five contributing parents: “the genetic parents,” who provide the egg and/or sperm cell(s), the “surrogate mother” or “brooding mother,” who takes care of the baby after it is born (Mortesen, 1995:4). Is the child legitimate? Who is the legal father/mother? What is the status of such a child? Has the child the same legal rights (e.g. of inheritance) as a ‘natural’ child of the putative father or man who gave the sperm? If the child was produced with donor sperm, is the child entitled, as is usually the case in adoption, to know the identity of his/her biological parents? These and other questions abound. Controversial cases have arisen for the above questions and are already being tried with difficulty in many countries of the world.

Further is the lack of respect shown to embryos. In the process of IVF, as we have already noted, many ova are collected and inseminated. When one has been inseminated and replaced in the womb what is the status of the remaining embryo? Are they human persons with rights? In spite of the universal acceptance that human life exists from the moment of conception it has become an accepted practice to experiment with such embryos and allow them to die (Golden, 1986:176). But an embryo is a human being in spe entitled to be handled with respect and care. Is it right to look at a human being in spe as just another object of research? (Mortesen 1995:4) A permanently attendant problem is that of the morality of the research and experimentation. Here, the most basic questions are: if the embryo is a person, from the moment of conception, in what circumstances, if at all, may it be used for purposes of experimentation or research? (Hannon, 1989:8)  Are there morally acceptable indications for involving living human fetuses and infants especially when such research may not be of benefit to those particular fetuses? And if so, what and who will be responsible in drawing up appropriate regulations to govern such fetal research? (McCarthy and Moraczecwski, 1976:5-6) It was in consideration of all these foreseen effects that the Catholic Church in a document, Donum Vitae had earlier warned against the practice of freezing embryos:

The freezing of embryos, when carried out to preserve the life of an embryo … constitutes an offence against the respect due to human beings by exposing them to grave risks of death… thus placing them in a situation in which further offences and manipulations are possible (Donum Vitae, n.6).

According to the moral theologian, Gino Concetti, the practice is viewed with even horror as there is difficulty in adoption. “Putting frozen embryos for adoption raises (sic) perplexities and reservations since the Catholic Church while encouraging the adoption of children and infants, makes no reference to embryos.” (Burnell, 1996:3) Observing the pitiable situation of the embryos, David Alton has called on all and sundry to joining forces with governments to end this “disgraceful practice” of spare embryos creation with its attendant evil, “if we are going to tackle the problems of infertility and still respect the sacredness of human life” (Alton, 1996:10).

Indeed, it seems as if our age is witnessing the ultimate in human degradation. Else, how can one explain the animal form of surrogacy, the implanting of a human embryo within the uterus of an animal? “It would, of course, be impossible for the pregnancy to proceed very far,” (Dunn, 1992:128) but whatever the intentions of the doctors involved, this is against human dignity. Commenting on the insidious attack on human dignity by these methods, the renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr H. P. Dunn summed up: “Even though the parents are loving and courageous, the child becomes an object, an achievement. There are already many cases where the promised happiness does not eventuate and, through human weakness, he is later abandoned or his custody is fought over in the courts.” (Dunn, 1992:128)

iv. Technological Dominance

These procedures are attempting to add to the already existing threat of the domination of humanity by humanity’s technological creation. No sane person can treat lightly the prospect of the scientification of humanity in which it has been objectified rather than subjectified. Humanity now faces the threat of extinction in a ‘world man has made’. The fears of the ecological crisis are a living example. “On every side there is an awareness that this is no time for ethical or legal mistakes. Life in the world of star-war technology sensitizes to the urgency of the need for human control…”(Hannon, 1989:9). We often assume that these activities are value-free and simply concerned with facts and objective information. But a valueless science becomes an end in itself, which leads to the dehumanization of both the scientist and the society at large. A medical scientist only concerned about advancing knowledge, who does not respect the dignity of the human person, can easily turn the person into an object or a thing for the sole purpose of gaining knowledge. In the drive for medical progress and advancement, it has become all too easy for the reproductive technologies to overlook human dignity and well-being. The future cannot and will not be made more human by present actions and policies which are dehumanizing. (Maestri, 1986:10)

Catholic Sexual Ethics

The Catholic Church conscious of the divine mandate to teach and correct errors has a guiding role in the midst of these complexities. Dei Verbum states: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the church alone.” (Dei Verbum, n.10) In his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II taught:

Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the word of God who was made flesh (cf. Jn1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15) (Evangelium Vitate, n.3).

Flowing from the above, the church feels obliged to teach on the new reproductive technologies. Reproductive technologies are of particular concern to the church since the institution of marriage and the family, which has always been central in the Christian message, is greatly affected by the good, but also the possible evils, of these technologies (Mortensen, 1995:42). However, in this section we shall not be discussing the stands of the various churches but that of the Catholic Church as required by the scope of this work, namely the Catholic Church being in dialogue with the medical sciences on human reproduction. It then implies that the word, “church” as used here designates the Catholic Church and is specific to it alone.

The church following the moral law insistently teaches that the good end (desire to have a child) does not and cannot justify the evil means employed to realize that end (Griesse, 1987:35). Having this as his basic thrust, Pope Pius XII in addressing Catholic Doctors in Rome on the 29th September 1948 raise eyebrows on the growing reproductive technologies. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Human Vitae of 1968 reinforced this condemnatory stance. These teachings have been made definite in the document, Donum Vitae: Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation.

In the document, a preliminary point for the moral evaluation of such technical procedures is constituted by the consideration of the circumstances and consequences, which those procedures involve in relation to the respect due to the human embryo (Donum Vitae, n.6). These are held as being against both the natural law and the divine positive law (Flood, 1957:56). The theses of the document are thus:

i) Separating the unitive (love-giving) and procreative (life-giving) meanings of the conjugal act is always wrong (Reproductive Technologies, 1988:110-112). This has sharpened Pope Pius XII’s declaration that all procreation by the married couple must be the fruit of a physical union accomplished according to the laws of nature. Consequently, acts against nature aimed at procuring the masculine seminal fluid – masturbation for example – are to be regarded as illicit and morally prohibited. Equally reprehensible are those methods, which, while they are not acts against nature, obtain the reproductive gametes without physical union (Flood, 1957:46).

ii) The second reason is based on the personal dignity of the child, who is not, even in its generation, to be treated as a product but who must always be respected as a person. The technologies hold or desire/conceive it as a product of an intervention of medical or biological techniques thereby reducing it to an object of scientific technology (Flood, 1957:46).

iii) It maintains that the ‘language of the body’ requires that the child be given life only in the personal bodily and spiritual act whereby husband and wife become ‘one flesh’ and express in a unique and proper way their personal and exclusive love for one another. They should give themselves to one another and be opened to life communication.

In addition to the above, it is stated that if reproductive technologies are necessary and possible, they must take place either beforehand, by the treatment of weakness and malfunctions, or afterwards, by supplying the deficiencies of the physiological mechanism. Thus, the means whose effect is to help normally accomplished sexual course to attain its ends are not forbidden. It thus remains legitimate, to take the male fluid in the vagina and project it further forward in the female genital ducts, for this is simply to complete a natural act. (Flood, 1957:46) In the encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II said, “The various techniques for reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used within this intention actually open the door to new threats against life.” (Evangelium Vitae, n.14). On this note he reiterated the church’s condemnatory stance on modern reproductive technologies as being morally unacceptable.

 

 

 

The Way Forward

 

Medicine and the church are not enemies but allies in bettering the course of humanity to attain its ultimate end. It is true that we might notice some negative ethical implications of the technologies on the society and married life but that does not mean we throw all away. Yes, the child must not be thrown away with the bathwater. But how can this be possible? This paper puts forward the following suggestions:

i. Both medical scientists and infertile couples should respect the sacredness of human life. Of course the medical personnel would say that the death of embryos during the technical procedures is a corollary of the considerable wastage of embryos in natural reproduction. Hence it is unreasonable to ask of the technologists a commitment to sustaining life greater than that which nature itself affords. To them we say that it is God the author of life who demands that it should not be arbitrarily taken away. We have lost sight of this fact and the condition of our society reveals the effects of that shortsightedness. Until we rediscover our respect for the individual, from conception until natural death, we will never solve the vast problems facing the technologists especially as regards bodily life and health.

ii. There should be more concentration on making the techniques curative rather than the mere alleviation of the effects of infertility as it is done today. The proper task of medicine is to cure underlying pathologies. This will go a long way in clearing the dangers of product mentality creeping into the creation of children conceived by these means. This will also help in preserving the exclusive character of married life; responsible parenthood and, help in controlling long-term effects that befall the society upon the technologists’ neglect.

iii. Counseling course aimed at educating couples that childbearing is not a right should be introduced for our medical students. Infertility cannot be said to be the worst tragedy that can befall a human being (more specifically a couple) but which must be fought tooth and nail irrespective of the morality of the means used. Here arises the importance of ethics as “corrective vision” for medicine and science. A well-systematized education will be able to purify and draw out the nobler aspects of humanity. This will enable a physician to develop sensitivity for the moral dimensions of ethical reflection, which are capable of aiding infertile couples to cope with their problem.

iv. Laws should be used in regulating the technology. Legislations should be drawn to safeguard the values that are at stake in these procedures. Care should be taken so as not to bring together people of one creed to regulate the procedures for all as it is done in Britain where “services and experiments are being regulated by a voluntary licensing body drawn from the medical profession. But this is most unsatisfactory in that it has doctors being judges in their own ethical cases in matters which are predominantly moral and legal, fields where they have no expertise.”(Golden, 1986:178) This has left the regulation of advances in this field quite uncertain (Prosser, 2010:29).

 

Conclusion

The field of reproductive technologies is no doubt complex. This paper sums up thus: ‘Reform the technologies before using them.’ The maladies contained therein should be checked so as to better the lot of childless couples. Theirs is a difficult burden, and we sympathize with their pain. We must offer them love, support and understanding. At the same time, while these issues are complex and the questions troubling, we cannot turn over our consciences and decision-making power to the medical experts alone. Just like other scientific advancements, modern reproductive technologies undoubtedly aim at giving a fillip to humanity’s welfare and progress. But a human being is not only biologically constituted, one has the social, psychological, emotional and spiritual makeup which must not be ignored or sacrificed on the altar of medical technology under the canopy of seeking to improve one’s welfare. The issues here involved us all. We cannot step aside and relinquish our responsibility to question, to be informed and to make responsible decisions. After the professionals and experts have had their say, it is up to us to determine the road we must travel. The physician and scientists are able to inform us as to what can be done, but each of us must decide what ought to be done. On this note this papers beckons all people of good will to join in this great incantation: “Modern reproductive technologies we want, but can’t they be practised on a reformed basis?” A Tiv person says: “A toad likes water but not when it is boiling.”

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  • Ø Daniel Ude ASUE is of St. Thomas University Miami, USA

 

 

 

EDUCATING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA: Bringing God (theology) to the Table Talk

By Clement T. Iorliam

Abstract

This paper is theological in approach. It looks at theology as a discipline which does not limit itself to the academy and the church but extends to the public square. The paper uses practical theology to dialogue with the Nigerian educational sector clearly delineating education for human rights and social justice. It is the conviction of the paper that education should lead to transformation, and this can only be possible if education raises self-consciousness in the people. The praxis pragmatic approach Ignatius of Loyola adopts in his education system in the sixteenth century Europe, which adequately responded to the needs of the time may be a good starting point for Nigeria. Such an education trains the mind and the heart, and makes people conscious of their rights and duties.

 Introduction

An emerging sub-specialty of theology that is strategic and fundamental to theology is Practical theology. It is a theological discipline that begins with God’s revelation in the world and is grounded in the experiences of the people. Its operation intersects the social, political, economic, cultural, and religious life of a people. When practical theology engages in the world, the purpose is to bring about a transformation of the society. Humanity is beset with numerous existential problems, and when theology is reduced to intellectualism, its reflections fail to give adequate responses to the experiences of the people. Hence the domain of theology according to David Tracy is the Church, academy, and society, making it a public discipline.

Over the years, various theologies have evolved to respond to realities of life of human communities. For instance, the political theology of Johann Baptist Metz focuses on the post war experiences of Nazi Germany and the Enlightenment question. Political theology gave birth to liberation theology that originated from Latin America and the Southern part of Africa, and it responds to marginal contradictions of life in those geographical settings.

Public theology situates American education in its domain because it is geared towards creating consciousness concerning rights and duties of citizens, at the same time imparting the desired knowledge so that citizens can adequately participate in democratic governance. In the US there are occasions when parents jokingly complain that their little children playfully called 9-1-1 emergency contact rescue team because they were told by their teachers in school to do so if anyone harasses them. Such is the level of consciousness that the Nigerian society desperately needs.

Nigeria is faced with issues of social justice ranging through bribery and corruption, poor wages, tribalism, nepotism, discrimination, poverty, youth restiveness, poor political leadership, poor education delivery, the subjugation of women in almost all facets of life. These social injustices in Nigeria call for public engagement of theology aimed at creating critical consciousness in the citizenry, and also to address those issues towards the transformation of society.

This paper focuses on education for critical consciousness concerning social justice issues. It is said that knowledge is power and ignorance cannot be a defence. It is only an enlightened citizenry that can create a better society. It can also perceive justice as a public good that puts the interest of others or the greatest good before self interest (Akinbode, 2006: 91). It is the conviction of this paper that education is the bedrock of every development but when it is founded on theoretical assumptions devoid of praxis, it hardly translates into meaningful development. In a situation where people are going through a lot of injustice, and they seem to accept the situation as normal, then education is necessary as a liberative mechanism. The paper addresses two fundamental issues of social justice. First, good education which responds to the signs of the time, and which is also the right of every citizen should be made available to all Nigerian citizens of school going age. Second, education should be a means of making people conscious of their rights and responsibilities so that they are useful to themselves and the society.

The Task of Theology in the Public Domain 

The Enlightenment brought about a very serious authority crisis both in the church and the secular society. It challenged all forms of authoritarianism. In view of the many problems the Church faced in the 1960s consequent upon this historical epoch, where emphasis was placed on Reason over Faith, practical theology was developed to challenge the status quo and to serve as a discipline that engages with the world. Thus, it was referred to as a ‘theory of crisis.’ Heitink (1993) citing G. Rau states:

 In times of crisis, when we see major upheavals in society and when the traditional approaches within the church lose their plausibility, we find a great need for advice as to how we should act. Since indeed we no longer know how to proceed, a ‘theological futurology’ … is needed to clear a way toward the future. (p. 3)

 This theological discipline was born as a child of necessity to proffer concrete answers to social puzzles which affected the church and the practice of faith in Christendom. This discipline is rooted in the experiences of the people. Swinton and Mowat (2007: 5) say that practical theology is a discipline, which takes human experience seriously as its beginning point. Furthermore, Swinton and Mowat (2007:6) define practical theology as a “critical, theological reflection on the practices of the Church as they interact with the practices of the world, with a view to ensuring, and enabling faithful participation in God’s redemptive practices in, to and for the world.” This definition sees practical theology as a critical discipline which is prepared to challenge accepted assumptions and practices. The understanding of this definition gives us the lead to challenge the problem of social injustice in Nigeria, calling for a pedagogy that gradually creates consciousness in the Nigerian citizens concerning their rights and responsibilities. It is important to do this because in most African countries where poverty is on the increase, standards of living are falling and economies are on the brink of collapse. It is the efforts of institutions both private and public, who are pursuing the recognition, promotion, observance and realisation of all human rights and basic freedom through education that have made the most profound impact on societies. It is through education that citizens are empowered to challenge the government about their responsibilities and keep them on their toes (Akinbode, 2006: 92).

 Viewing the Education Sector in context

In order to understand the performance of western education in Nigeria, it must be situated in its proper context. Ayih (2003:184), writing about the advent of western education in Nigeria observes that social change is possible when education is made relevant to the people’s needs and aspirations. Communities differ tremendously in their social and historical backgrounds as well as their cultures and traditions. They differ in their languages, religions, social and political structures. There are also geographical differences and difference in resources. Education is therefore expected to explore the potentials of each community based on people’s culture and way of life. The people use such education for practical application within the community. There is therefore no single standard of education for all communities, be they rural or urban. People’s needs and aspirations differ from country to country, so the education that satisfies these needs and aspirations must also differ.

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s heterogeneous background was not taken into consideration at the introduction of western education in the nineteenth century since it was tailored to cater to the immediate needs of the early Christian missionaries and imperialists. When literary education came to Nigeria, it was for religious purposes, whether Islamic or Christian. Western education was introduced by missionaries to teach their followers how to read the Bible and teach catechism. So the content of education was mainly reading and writing and conducting religious studies. Trading companies used those products of education as clerks while colonial administrators used them as interpreters in offices and courts. They were also used as teachers to establish primary schools in mission compounds (Ayih, 2003: 186). This type of education was more of  a historical model of Religious Education which assumes that (i) education is fundamentally concerned with communicating a divinely given message, (ii) aims and subject matter are best ascertained from the Bible and from carefully perceived doctrines rooted in it, (iii) the teacher’s role is to communicate the spirit and facts of the saving message as well as to assist the learner’s assimilation into the Church, and (iv) learners will live out the implications of the message with respect to their participation in the Church as well as their eternal destiny (Burgess, 2001, p. 30). To some extent, the historical prototype has recorded tremendous success in numbers of both Christians and Moslems in Nigeria but to a large extent, such an education rules out creating responsible citizens that will impact positively on the social order. The effect of this is clearly seen in the contemporary challenges that beset Nigeria as presented later in the work. Ironically, while Nigerians are highly religious people in numbers, very little impact of their religiousness is felt in the political, social, and cultural life of the nation.

Engagement with the Education Sector as Public Theology

In the early centuries of the Church, theology was closely linked to the spiritual life. It was essentially a meditation on the Bible geared towards spiritual growth. It was above all monastic and therefore characterised by spiritual growth removed from worldly concerns (Gutiérrez, 2010: 4). This understanding made theology a purely church affair. Since the Enlightenment period, there has been a paradigm shift. Tracy (1981: 3) argues in The Analogical Imagination “All theology is public discourse.” He conceptualized theology as belonging to three publics. He categorised these as the publics of society, academy, and Church. According to him:

Practical theologians are related primarily to the public of society, more exactly to the concerns of some particular social, political, cultural or pastoral movement or problematic which is argued or assumed to possess major religious import. (Tracy, 1981: 57)

 For practical purposes too, Forrester (2000: 112) subscribes to Tracy’s view that the public of society is the most important domain of theology. This domain encompasses three spheres; first, the techno-economic structure which is concerned with the organisation and distribution of goods and services; second, the polity, which is concerned with legitimate deployment of power, implementation of justice and control of conflict. Third is the sphere of culture, concerned with a huge variety of forms of symbolic expression. While Forrester identifies two ways of doing public theology today, the magisterial and the liberationist, this paper focuses on the latter whereby the concrete message comes from below, arising out of real experiences and struggles on the ground (Forrester, 2000:118). He thus defines public theology as,

 A theology, talk about God, which claims to point to publicly accessible truth, to contribute to public discussion by witnessing to a truth which is relevant to what is going on in the world and to the pressing issues facing people and societies today. It does not generate its own agenda, nor does it simply take over the world’s agenda. Indeed, an important part of its task is to identify and address the deep underlying issues that are often too painful or awkward for politicians and others to address in public debate, and to identify the coming agenda, the issues that people will be wrestling with within a few months or years. It takes the public square and what goes on there seriously, but it tries to articulate in the public square its convictions, challenges and insights derived from the tradition of which it is a steward, rather than seeking to articulate a consensus or reiterate what everyone is saying anyway (Forrester, 2000:127-128).

 According to Graham, Walton, and Ward (2010:10) theology as ‘talk about God’ involves three key tasks in relation to practical circumstances. First theology informs the process that enables the formation of character. Second, theology assists in building, and maintaining the community of faith. Third, theology enables the relating of the faith-community’s own communal identity to the surrounding, culture, and the communication of the faith to the wider world. In this sense, the Church may consider its task as getting involved with the world around it and finding ways in her duty of care and compassion for the establishment of justice amidst oppression, in the world around it. In order to engage the world, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI (2012) in his XLV World Day of Peace devoted the theme to “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” maintains:

 In this world of ours, in which, despite the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possession, it is important not to detach the concept of justice from its transcendent roots. Justice indeed is not simply a human convention, since what is just is ultimately determined not by positive law, but by the profound identity of the human being. It is the integral vision of man that saves us from falling into a misconception of justice and enables us to locate justice within the horizon of solidarity and love.

 In his talk about God, Paul goes beyond the synagogue to the public square. Paul’s ministry takes a new turn by engaging the society upon his introduction to Athenian culture when he moves to the marketplace. As a condition of undertaking public preaching, Paul is summoned to a meeting of the city council, meeting on the Areopagus where he argues in favour of God whose altar was dedicated, and yet was ‘unknown’ to the Gentiles (Graham, Walton, & Ward, 2010:141). Similarly, Ignatius of Loyola believed in starting with people in their situation. His vision of education was holistic, grounded in the humanities and sciences by a conviction that one finds God in all things. Ignatius’ method permeated by the spirit of renaissance humanism, employed theology as the integrating vehicle in the liberal arts curriculum (Fleischer, 1993: 255).

The social context of the sixteenth century Europe in which Ignatius lived was similar to that of Nigeria in a number of ways. Fleischer (1993), citing Gans points out that illiteracy was rampant in the sixteenth century world in which Ignatius and the first Jesuits lived.

Less than five percent of adults received an education equivalent to that of a seven-year-old today. Religious illiteracy was similarly prevalent. The Latin Vulgate Bible was inaccessible to many parish priests as well as to lay persons who lacked any facility in Latin. Preaching was almost unheard of in local parishes, superstitions abounded, corruptions were common, and many dioceses were experiencing acute shortage of ordained clergy. In the diocese of Passau, for example, there were 254 parishes without a resident priest. (p. 264)

 The above situation motivated Ignatius to make a lasting social impact on school system in Europe. Ignatius had an acute ability to assess the social needs of his time and a keen intuition for developing practical strategies to address those needs.

In his letter to a fellow Jesuit, Antonio de Araoz, provincial of Spain, Ignatius was confident of the religious and social impact the educational enterprise embarked upon by the Jesuit order would have on the extern (non-Jesuit) students, the country, region and the Jesuit instructors themselves. He maintained that the inhabitants of the region would benefit by having:

 Persons to inspire and aid them in undertaking good works such as hospitals. . .  From among those who are at present merely students, in time some will emerge to play diverse roles – some to preach and carry on the care of souls, others to the government of the land and the administration of justice, and others to other responsible occupations. In short since the children of today become the adults of tomorrow, their good formation in life and learning will benefit many others, with the fruit expanding more widely every day. (Fleischer, 1993: 265)

 Such is the concern the Nigerian government should have for education, an education that is praxis oriented and aims at producing good citizens who will eventually take up various roles in society.

Re-enacting Social Justice in Nigeria  

The social justice question in Nigeria has always posed a very serious challenge.  It is a pathological condition that Nigerians have lived with over the years, and which needs to be eradicated. Instrumentum Laboris of the II Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi (2010) identified some issues of social justice for discussion at the assembly. Almost all facets of the national life of the country are affected by this malaise. In the political sphere, demand for justice has led some people to take up arms and wage wars where their rights have been infringed upon. Several cases of communal clashes abound in the land where lives are lost, farms and property destroyed. There is urgent need for an education that trains people for peaceful co-existence that guarantees security.

Judicial personnel who are custodians of justice are sometimes accused of corrupt practices. In some cases, they are not exonerated of perverting justice. In a recent landmark ruling of the Supreme Court, on election cases concerning Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State versus their political rivals, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the Chief Justice of Nigeria literally begged judges to dispense justice. He insisted that cases should not be dismissed on grounds of technicalities but handled on merit. In Musdapher’s words, “I am begging you, in the name of justice matters should be decided on their merits and not technicalities.” (Bamboye, 2011). It is common knowledge in Nigeria that oftentimes judicial institutions and those who fight corruption are besieged by political forces to subdue citizens who hold contrary opinions. In this way corruption which rages in Nigerian society goes unpunished. Bad management of human and natural resources, the diversion of public funds to foreign banks are forms of injustice, which are currently practised with impunity.  It is sad that in the midst of affluence, just wages are not paid to workers and even their meagre remuneration is sometimes delayed (Instrumentum Laboris, 2010, no. 56). A sound education is pertinent to create critical consciousness of the ideal thing to do no matter the interpolating factors.

Since the removal of the fuel subsidy and attendant mass protest rallies across the nation, Nigerians have become very conscious of the many misdeeds of government especially in the sphere of corruption. Reaction to the subsidy removal attracted a new wind that has been blowing across the Nigerian political landscape. Pastor Bakare, a convener of the Save Nigeria Group Townhall Meeting under the theme “Endemic Corruption: the bane of Good Governance”, observes: “irrespective of how the fuel subsidy issue is concluded, Nigeria cannot be the same. Nigerians have discovered themselves this year.” (Bakare, 2012).  The objective of the convention was to use the new found strength to check the excesses of government, and to educate people on the need to fight corruption.

Election rigging in Nigeria is almost institutionalised. It is commonly perceived as a game of winner takes all. Political elite are part of election rigging in Nigeria, a culture that often robs true candidates of their political mandate. Election violence is carried out in all forms and ramifications. The task to build an enduring democracy in Nigeria must be viewed as a collective responsibility (Mbang, 2002: 28). It is only an education that trains the mind and the heart that will adequately respond to this challenge where the electorate to whom power belongs cast their legitimate votes and protect those votes accordingly.

In the sphere of economic development, farm workers, who form a greater part of the Nigerian economy, are victims of injustice in marketing their products. They cannot determine prices for their own goods and are often paid low prices. Fertilizer, which should be an essential and available commodity for farmers, has become an annually scarce commodity. Even where government makes the product available at affordable prices to farmers, some greedy self serving politicians and government functionaries divert it for their personal gains. An education that begins at the foundation level with ethos of altruism can effectively squash the Nigerian greed characteristic of a pandemic illness.

In the cultural realm, women’s voice is not heard. They are continually subjected to many forms of injustice. These include domestic violence and acts of domination by their husbands, and polygamy continues to dehumanize women and creates social insecurity for children who spring from such unions.  There is also lack of respect for the dignity and rights of widows (Instrumentum Laboris, 2010, No. 58). Consciousness that arises from education can sting like the gadfly arousing women to claim their voices and on their own, seek legitimate ways of empowerment. Nigeria must be committed to the Jomtien Declaration of 1990 which insists on education for all in order to reduce illiteracy (Akinbode, 2006: 93).

Nigeria is in a dicey situation as it is confronted with the menace of youth restiveness. This applies to a significant proportion of the youth in various communities. It may involve conduct that constitutes unwholesome socially unacceptable activities engaged in by the youth in any community (Chukuezi, 2009: 100). The insurgence of youth restiveness like Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), and the current deadly Boko Haram uprising are perceived by social identity theorists as youths who are searching for their national identity.

Lack of jobs is a major cause of youth restiveness. A teeming number of idle youths also take to all forms of social vices. On a general note, poverty is a key element in this insurgency. According to Chukuezi, (2009: 98) poverty generates a crisis that is habitual and it conveys an apparent message of hardship. It speaks publicly through misery; persistent destitution, endemic hunger and visible malnutrition. In the Niger Delta, youth rebellion is targeted at government and multinational companies due to their insensitivity to the plight of the people of that region who suffer tremendously from environmental degradation consequent upon oil exploration activities.  Most youths have become a target of recruit for political thuggery, robbery, and a life of sex and drugs. Similarly, the former Head of Service of the Federation Professor Oladapo Afolabi blamed the incessant security challenges facing the nation on a failing education system. He also observed that social vices like crime and prostitution and the violent crimes perpetrated by the Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram menace are all products of  the failing education system (Asalu, 2012). There is also the problem of indigent young men and women who cannot afford the soaring cost of education and medical services (Instrumentum Laboris, No. 59). Realising this fact, Benedict XVI (2011) says youths have the feeling of frustration and rejection in the face of their inability to shape their own future, especially in those situations where young people are vulnerable due to lack of education, unemployment, political exploitation and various kinds of addiction. He sees schools as a key factor in educating young people in faith. To this end he observes:

 Bishops should support chaplaincies within the churches universities and schools. The Chapel should be the heart of those institutions, a place where students encounter God. The chaplain should be carefully selected for his priestly virtues, to exercise his pastoral ministry of teaching and sanctification. (Benedict XVI, 2011)

 Educating for Social Justice

According to Groome (1991: 399) the concern of theology in the domain of the church is to impart the faith that does justice, which is more than informing people of the social responsibilities of Christian faith. It requires forming their character in the habitus of justice, that is, in the consciousness, dispositions and commitments needed to live justly for peace. The task of teachers here is to teach clearly the ideas of justice, peace, liberation, compassion among others. While this is understood as being integral to orthodox faith, peoples’ characters are to be formed for orthopraxis (right action). The Church is a significant agent in general education as seen in the many schools established by various Christian traditions throughout the world. The role of such schools in educating for justice is a major topic. The Church must recognize its educational role and strive to shape the politics of its schools towards justice and peace. This means educating in ways that are consciousness raising, teaching people to read critically their own reality and so think for themselves, informing them of traditions and responsibilities, and values that encourage them to fulfill their social or political responsibilities, to claim their own human rights and promote the rights of others (Groome 1991: 400).

In trying to address the social realities of his time, Freire (2000: 44) in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed conceives dehumanization as a process that reduces the oppressor and the oppressed to a position that makes both of them less human. For the oppressed their vocation to be fully human is thwarted by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and for the oppressors, the violence they perpetrate dehumanizes them. Dehumanization demeans those whose humanity has been stolen, and also those who have stolen it, becoming a distortion of the vocation of becoming fully human. The task of the oppressed to liberate themselves is not to become oppressors but to liberate both themselves and the oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit and rape by virtue of their power cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.

In order to engage in pedagogy that restores the status of the oppressed and the oppressor as fully human persons, Freire observes that this task can only be achieved if the roles of the teacher and the student are reconciled. An education that makes the teacher the subject and the student object cannot achieve the anticipated results of making students critically conscious of the reality around them. Freire’s concept of ‘banking’ education identifies teachers as depositors of knowledge while students are depositories in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. Such an education is oppressive and can never lead to liberation (Freire 2000:72). Furthermore:

Education in the Freire mode is the practice of liberty because it frees the educator no less than the educatees from the twin thralldom of silence and monologue. Both partners are liberated as they begin to learn, the one to know self as a being of worth – notwithstanding the stigma of illiteracy, poverty, or technological ignorance – and the other as capable of dialogue in spite of the strait jacket imposed by the role of educator as one who knows. (Freire, 2005: ix)

The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students’ creative power, and to stimulate their credulity serves the interest of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed ((Freire 2000:73). Freire views education as a practice of freedom as opposed to education as a practice of domination ((Freire 2000: 81). In order to effect a total approach to social and political responsibility and decision, Freire (2005) citing Karl Mannheim, says:

 In a society in which the main changes are to be brought about through collective deliberation, and in which re-evaluations should be based upon intellectual insight and consent, a completely new system of education would be necessary, one which would focus its main energies on the development of our intellectual powers and bring about a frame of mind which can bear the burden of scepticism and which does not panic when many of the thought habits are doomed to vanish (p. 30).

 Freire proposed problem-posing education which makes students critical thinkers. It bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of persons as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative transformation (Freire 2000: 83-84). Based on this claim, he notes:

 The education our situation demanded would enable men to discuss courageously the problems of their context-and to intervene in that context; it would warn men of the dangers of the time and offer them the confidence and the strength to confront those dangers instead of surrendering their sense of self through submission to the decisions of others. By predisposing men to re-evaluate constantly, to analyze ‘findings,’ to adopt scientific methods and processes, and to perceive themselves in dialectical relationship with social reality, that education  could help to assume an increasingly critical attitude toward the world and so to transform it. (Freire 2005: 30)

 This conversation takes into consideration a liberationist approach to religious education. The liberation approach builds on the theories of Paulo Freire (Browning, 1996: 217). Although Freire does not work explicitly in the field of religious education, his theories have proved enormously influential for a number of contemporary religious educators like Thomas Groome. Moreover, Freire represents a point of view essentially harmonious with George Albert Coe in so far as both understand education as a means for transformation of society (Boys, 1989: 124). The classical liberal model of religious education was a socially and educationally dimensioned model that moulded thought on its vision focused on immediate salvation through the reordering of society. Burgess (2001: 79, 94) acknowledges that Chave who is one of the representatives of the liberal perspective maintains that one of the functional categories intended to be descriptive of the way religion operates in growing lives is that education should develop social sensitivity, and create awareness of potentials in other persons.

Theological Reflections

The purpose of educating for social justice is geared towards liberation for the transformation of society. Freire’s approach is praxis based. His educational interventions, content and method are deeply interrelated. Thus his method is both the means towards, and the anticipation of, the new social order of justice and equality. There is an explicit link between literacy, empowerment and humanization (Graham, Walton, & Ward, 2010: 184). Such a reflection concludes with the notion that education should be verb-like rather than noun-like. It must liberate humanity from all forms of enslavement. Cartledge (2007: 17) argues that liberation theologians understand this, and that is why they see truth as not something abstract and remote – orthodoxy, rather, truth is something that is done, practically in action – orthopraxy. Education brings about this truth. The liberation theology of Gutiérrez (2010: 88) is directed towards such praxis approach. The impetus behind it is based on the understanding that God intervened in history and delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. God’s intervention broke Israel away from a situation of despoliation from misery and ushered in a just and friendly society. It is the suppression of disorder and the creation of new order. Education must be organised and delivered in such a way that it brings about this new order.

Conclusion

The paper looks at the necessity of education in creating awareness concerning issues of social justice in order to make the world a better place. This consciousness is needed for the liberation of the oppressor and the oppressed. This is because in all forms of oppression, it is not only the oppressed who suffers, but also those who supposedly benefit from injustices. It is the right of every citizen to have access to good education that introduces them to critical thinking and helps them to solve their problems themselves. Any education that does not create critical consciousness is enslaving and must be discarded. Paulo Freire condemns it as ‘banking’ education which makes students mere receptacles of knowledge.

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 Ø Clement Tersee Iorliam is of the Practical Theology School of Theology and Ministry, St Thomas University, Miami, Florida.

MEANING PRODUCTION IN NIGERIA’S SOCIAL REALITY: BETWEEN MEDIA IDEOLOGY AND ETHICAL COMMUNICATION

By Aondover M.IORAPUU

Introduction

Locating meaning in media production is a difficult and tricky art, and not everyone is capable of unveiling the signification media artefacts sometimes transmit, yet we are contented with the ‘free lunch’; what we read, hear and see appears gratis. Beyond what is seemingly free from the media is a hidden ideology.  The theories on the all powerful media and their mediated effects, their being capable of setting agenda for us etc notwithstanding, the media in themselves are not so efficacious without human interference. Theories such as symbolic interactionism, that meaning comes from our interaction with each other and that meaning does not exist on its own but is socially produced, or even the mediated influence of opinion leaders, explain the dynamic relationship presumed and created by media producers. Understanding meaning in media artefacts therefore requires a good understanding of the ideology behind all the production processes vis à vis good principles and ethical values such media products communicate. What we know of media ideology seems to be all about power and control practices, propaganda and manipulation of attitudes that dim out ethical principles that define communication; a universal pattern that takes a dramatic style in developing nations like Nigeria because of the uncharacteristic features of her society: dangling between modern and traditional, banana and failed, democratic and autocratic state. This articles scours through a plethora of themes seeking dominance on the Nigerian terrain and suggests how meaning production can assume dominance in our media now overshadowed by other competing themes that seem to besiege the country.

Ideology and media ideologies in social reality

Ideology is a complex and dynamic concept that carries a kaleidoscopic meaning which is constantly changing. The origin of the term according to John Thompson is attributed to a wealthy and educated nobleman called Destutt de Tracy, who had studied the works of the Enlightenment thinkers and wanted to preserve them from being corrupted following the French Revolution. “We cannot know things in themselves but only through ideas formed by our sensations of them. If we could analyse these ideas and sensations in a systematic way, we could provide a firm basis for all scientific knowledge and draw inferences of a more practical kind. The name de Tracy proposed for this incipient and ambitious enterprise was ideology – literally ‘the science of idea! Ideology was to be positive, useful and susceptible of rigorous exactitude.” (1990: 29-30). The negative perception of ideology on the other hand is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte who had staged a coup d’ état in 1799 three years after de Tracy had introduced the term ideology; he used some of the ideas, but when his popularity waned and his authority weakened he blamed it on ‘ideologues’. Napoleon attacked ideologues for undermining the state and rule of law and condemned all religious and philosophical thoughts as ideology. This is how ideology became a mistrusted term and slipped into politics losing its Enlightenment spirit. (Thompson: 33-37). Later, says Edgar and Sedgwick, Marx will make it an important critical concept, suggesting that in any society the ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ideas, especially in the social world. For Marx ideology is a distortion and against true knowledge, hence the common pejorative understanding, (Edgar and Sedgwick, 1999: 189-190).

In the past capitalism and communism were the commonest known ideologies, however there are many others today that are associated with radical and fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram, silent racism or ethnicism, and superior cultures. Many may not notice them for several factors: indifference, false consciousness, ignorance, media inaccessibility: the power of the media; who says it is correct! The naming of people by colour and the representation of women for instance as seen especially in the media are ideological.  When we refer to others not like us ‘as the other’ whether as Chinese, Somalis and eventually down to the local naming of north and south, Hausa and Igbo, Tiv and Jukum, Yoruba and Fulani, believer and non believer, how do we expect that they interpret our remarks as complimentary? You cannot for instance, as Githinji says, “swear or use taboo words in public and claim that you did not intend to offend anyone.” (2008:18). “Language” says Githinji “enshrines or embodies all dispositions as a prison and window of thought. Viewing women as groups rather than individuals in turn become the fodder for negative stereotypes because individuals cannot be stereotyped but groups can.” (2008:25). All this get transmitted through the media and the selection of that material depends on the communicator, where other values that are contrary to the communicator’s opinion are undermined. The communicator through the media plays a significant role in sustaining ideological practices, and creating signification that governs ethical values in the social reality of a people, especially when silent on serious social issues affecting the community.

 In the media, ideology is often used as a system of beliefs characteristic of a particular class, it is a system of illusory beliefs, false ideas as well as the general processes of the production of meanings or ideals. It is often seen as a system of false beliefs sustained by the ruling class through different organs like the media, education, politics, business and entertainment through the production of meaning. It is also called ‘exnomination’, that is, assuming that the values of the superior are basic and natural and obvious and need no explanations, but those of the other require explanations. (Fiske, 2002: 166-167).

As part of mediation or mediatization, the media play a role in constructing ideology because they determine much of what we do and how we do it. For Foucault, in performing the surveillance or watchdog role, the media subject individuals and groups to regular examination to ascertain how healthy or unhealthy they are, just as science and scientific methods developed from the eighteenth century established through observational methods what was right and what was wrong. The medical checkups we undertake under the watchful observation of medical experts determine our bill of health.  (Williams, 2004:160). In the same manner the concept of surveillance becomes the invisible mechanism through which institutions seek and hide their power regulating what is considered acceptable and civil and what is unacceptable and uncivil thus requiring correction. The power to regulate behaviour or conduct thus rests with the media that select what should be in the public domain and what should be ignored. Unfortunately not all that the media select is in the public interest and good.

The media therefore have a similar influence on democracy and society in general in their ideological functions as powerful instruments capable of changing people’s behaviour and shaping them in their non transparency and non representation of reality. This they achieve through agenda setting, and acting as myths and sacrosanct among other roles. However, society does not view the media beyond their representational function to unveil how they are manipulated by individuals who determine what is produced.

Everyone knows that the new information technologies are capable of being powerful instruments for unity and peace, but also for destruction and division. From a moral standpoint they can offer either a service or a disservice, propagate truth as well as falsehood, propose what is base as well as what is beautiful. The flood of news or non news, to say nothing of images, can be informative but also powerfully manipulative. Information can readily become disinformation, and formation deformation. The media can be a force for authentic humanization, but just as easily prove dehumanizing. (BENEDICT XVI, 2011:143).

Society’s conscious or unconscious trust of media organisations for their capacity for doing only good has reinforced the idea that we are merely passive before the media but others argue against such false consciousness and claim that ideology is the reality lived every day by the experiences of the people. “However, this reality is the imaginary picture of the real capitalist conditions without revealing the truth. There are other intervening factors that inspire ideology such as: the individual communicator for instance indulges in his opinions, racial, tribal, and nationality using the instruments of the media as a shield.” (Fiske, 2002: 174-175). The Media according to Kevin Williams have changed since the 1980s, when they were separated from ideology, and the structuralist revolution had shifted discussion of ideology to explore how meaning was made by social institutions such as the media. Thus the concept of mediatization or mediation started gaining force; the media were seen as ‘part of the politics of signification.’ In other words, the media were not just reflecting reality, they were actively defining reality, and they were involved in the reproduction of ideology as they produced meaning. (2004: 159).

The functioning of ideology

Today wars and conflicts are reported as oxymoron, they are spectaculars displaying the latest weapons and justifying the aggressors and vilifying the victims in the name of just wars, preventive actions and fighting terrorists. The media, through different apparatuses construct these dominant theories and representations of the daily behaviour of people; in the process they promote values and beliefs and interpellation or the instruction on how to behave and follow these values as normal processes of growth. Interpellation means that individuals have existing social identities and through ideological apparatuses they learn their sense of identity; these cultural conventions, family relations and language are all pre-structured to communicate these values. (Williams, 148-149). As the Pope puts it:

What need we have of this beautiful piece of news! Every day, through newspapers, television and radio, evil is recounted, repeated, amplified, making us accustomed to the most terrible things, making us insensitive and, in some way, intoxicating us, because the negative is never fully purged and accumulates day after day. The heart becomes harder and thoughts become darker. (BENEDICT XVI, 2009).

The concept of ideology understood by Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and which Foucault tried to modernize is much the same: Ideology understood as false consciousness, as hegemony and surveillance, where power is exercised and individuals or groups are controlled, (Williams, 160).  Antonio Gramsci however takes ideology to our day rejecting the idea offered by classical Marxism that people were passive receivers of dominant class ideology. Dominance according to Gramsci was not easily imposed because people are not brain-washed as imagined; the ruling ideology is often negotiated through hegemony; a constant struggle between the ruling and the ruled. The ruling ideology today is that of hegemony, where we all participate in what shapes our society; as a result subjugation is negotiated and internalized as a normal way of life, but the dominant perspective remains the deciding factor and the status quo, (Fiske, 2002: 176). The difference lies in the ability of the ruling class to present itself as well as equipped to attend to the interests of both classes. This is achieved through constant negotiations that accommodate their interests and views. When the consensus fails, there is the use of force; but it is the ability of the ruling class to mobilize consent through the apparatuses or institutions like the media that plays a vital role in weakening resistance, (Williams, 2004: 150). Ideology therefore is still very active, whether negotiated or gang-pressed as forcing labour unions to abandon civil strikes or getting a group of gangs in the streets to support unpopular decisions, commonplace in Nigeria!

Dominant ideology as power is therefore wielded through invisible apparatuses and artifacts which have become a site for struggle and competition. When you consider media artefacts like Blackberry, Apple, I-Phones, Samsung etc and what ideology they represent, you cannot help but agree with Gramsci: connectivity, success, class, power, position, etc. it is no longer a question of race, colour or education, it is a question of class, style and cognitive ability in the new culture. It is this class ideology that is watering down traditional values in media artefacts, because the old discriminatory style is no longer the traditional characteristic, it is a question of class. These media are the inventions of intelligent brains, but populated by people who continue to sustain the class war on a different level. This is where the media in Nigeria should cut an edge looking at the reality of our situation. Though not referring to Nigeria the Pope said:

Our cities are inhabited by “invisible men and women”, people who “now and again appear on the front pages or on television screens, and are exploited to the last drop for as long as their news and image attract attention. This is a perverse mechanism which unfortunately we find difficult to resist. The city first hides people then exposes to the public, without pity or with false pity”, when the truth is that “each human story is a sacred story and calls for the greatest respect.” (BENEDICT XVI: 2009).

Those media professionals publishing what they do not believe in, falsehood to protect a dominant interest and group, apart from the many innocent villagers compelled to lie of projects not executed: all form part of the manipulated class. Boko Haram for instance has become a dominant ideology; they have tried so many ways to negotiate its influence and that seems to be working, with the Nigerian president and his government appearing on the pages of papers and television screens saying what they do not know or believe to be true for various motives: yesterday they were on top of the situation, today they are begging Boko Haram to show its face for negotiation, tomorrow they will ask Nigerians to be patient – a plan for victory is in the pipeline. (Boko Haram is an extremist group in the far north of Nigeria that wants to enthrone Islamic rule in the twelve states of northern Nigeria and is opposed to Western education. The group is said to be loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and all those who do not follow its strict ideology, whether Muslims or Christians, are considered infidels. This is the type of Islam the English suspected before independence that Northern Nigeria was courting the Sudan, Ajaero, 2012).

Nigeria’s reality

The Nigerian space is a contested terrain and every spanner is thrown into the machine to conquer every meter, (Akpan-Obong, 2009: 157). Out of the over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, only the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo groups are considered dominant and therefore more important, the WAZOBIA, in reference to the word ‘come’ in the three major languages, frequently used to define the cultural character of the Nigerian nation,  (Rubingh, 1968: 54-55). Nigeria was plunged into a civil war shortly after independence, (Rubingh: 56). Today, Plateau state is the hot-bed for ethno-religious unrest, thousands already dead in some of the worst ethno-religious intolerance cases Nigeria has ever seen since the Tiv-Jukum crisis. The unrest begins with one and ends up with the other, from ethnic or sectional and ends up as religious; between Christians and Muslims, or northerners and southerners. (Tyoden 2005: 172). Religion and ethnicity for Nigeria are sensitive issues; the question of where you come from and what is your religion are the dominant themes in the body polity of the country, even when there is a calm and polished façade displayed to hide the reality.

In the country, unity has historically been fragile and political actions are carefully managed (or manipulated in some cases) to avoid any hint of ethnic regional or religious biases. The Nigerian space is literally a contested terrain. There are constant ethnic and religious conflicts rooted in claims to space (or land). One comes from a specific, time-less and static ‘place of origin’ regardless of place of birth or residence, (Akpan-Obong 2009: 157).

In Nigeria these events well up to determine the economy and political stability, for instance besides the three major tribes, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo the rest fall in the minority category. The Middle-Belt region or central Nigeria with many of the strong minorities remains one volatile region that keeps the country on a higher alert level more than even the Niger Delta. And who will want to invest in such a volatile environment? Meanwhile even among the minorities there is distrust as revealed in the quest for a Middle Belt state, according to the Sir Henry Willink’s Report of the Commission Fears of Minorities:

In the rest of the population which was nearly half the whole, the Commission found that there was some anxiety at the thought of a state in which the Tiv would be the dominating element. One witness was said to have expressed this view succinctly in the statement that he preferred the Fulani, because they were further away. Although naturally there were exceptions in each part of the province, broadly speaking the Tiv were in favour and the rest not. There were the seven southern districts of Zaria, clearly differentiated from the northern part, ruled by Fulani District Heads but never completely absorbed into the Northern system. (1958:136).

These seven districts were derogatorily referred to as banza bakwe, the useless or fake seven. These were the stronghold of the Middle Belt Movement, (Sir Henry Willink’s Report of the Commission Fears of Minorities 1958:136-137). Today those Fulanis that were thought to be far away are not just within the Middle Belt, they are constantly attacking Tivland; and what has become of those seven districts? In Nigeria, politics is spoken in geo-political terms to avoid the sensitive religious, tribal and sectional sentiments that form its foundation. The reasons for the scenario painted on the Middle Belt include the fact that the Tiv are always opposed to any form of Hausa-Fulani domination, often translated as their opposition to Islam.

 The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prescribed the equitable distribution of public opportunities and resources among persons from or indigenes of all the states of the federation, yet political discrimination and exclusion and marginalization still continue, pitting so-called indigenes against settlers or non-indigenes. As Suberu says, a practice or provision that has encouraged the exclusion of the so-called non-indigenes from valued opportunities entails educational admissions, lands and related resources, employment opportunities and political appointments, all aimed at slicing the ‘national cake-sharing’ psychosis. ( 2005:231). Dan Agbese says the amendment of the constitution was an opportunity to set things right but was treated, ‘like an esoteric document beyond the ken of an average citizen, the chance lost once again that would have been used to tackle those problems that periodically rock the foundation of the famous amalgamation in 1914’.

Our federalism is bastardized with a unitary system superimposed on a weakened federal structure. The issues that confront the present system and need amendments according to those who abhor the current structure include: Fiscal federalism to unitary federalism as it relates to a three tier system of government, where the federal authority controls the states and local governments and the absence of citizenship rights that protect them from the criminal arbitrariness of their rulers, (Agbese 2011:5).

The political class therefore succeeds in stifling the only remaining lifeline of the populace: the constitution. What they call for in return is anarchy and violence since there is no other outlet for the ordinary people to protest and express their discontent over proceedings in their country. These events are manifest in different forms, for example the events that led to the pogrom in Jos and other environs of Plateau state, according to The Nation, a national daily, were reminiscent of those events that preceded the civil war in 1967, (THE NATION 2010:18). As a multicultural and multi-ethnic society within a traditional set up, the factors of tribe and clan are important elements in daily life, especially the religious and are bound to be around for a while. The bottom line however, is a political leadership that can guarantee every Nigerian the full right of citizenship anywhere in the country.

The twin issues of religion and ethnicity, no doubt form a tight rope for Nigeria’s walk to safer shores, (Kukah 2001: 102). Religious fundamentalism and its politicization only help to expose the vulnerability of the political structure rotten by corruption. These conflicts are dovetailed with the various segments that populate Nigeria and the state of lawlessness in Nigeria can be attributed to no one single factor.

The debate over the religious status of the Nigerian state remains one of the most passionate and acrimonious. The debate has often been beclouded by bellicosity, zealotry, arrogance and prejudices. In the end, there has always been more heat than light. (Kukah 2001:102).

Nigeria’s membership of some Islamic organizations like the Organization of Islamic Countries (O.I.C.), the introduction of the Sharia in some states in the north and the determination of Muslim leaders of the north to have the Sharia adopted as a legal system are partly responsible for the pogrom going on in some parts of the Middle Belt region, (Schineller 2002:411-415). The dynamics of violence in Nigeria continue to change, the current anarchists are members of Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist sect attacking the north with explosives, and killing many innocent people. Following the recent attack on the Church of God in Jos, Christian leaders have warned of reprisal attacks and the risk of a civil war, (Koffi 2012:15). Many people have been killed in such attacks (Newswatch 2012:9). It does not matter who gets killed before serious and decisive actions are taken by the leaders who have sworn to defend the nation and its citizens. The professors, students and other victims are ordinary people in the eyes of the ruling class.

The aftermath of these conflicts and ideological underpinning is the consequence women bear; whether the resultant effect is the enthronement of the Sharia or the institutionalization of a cultural mode, the ultimate price is paid by the women. Women are the target that will be objectified and reified. Women are objectified as commodities or objects for man’s use and are treated as non human beings. They will be the ones to be stoned to death for adultery and for wearing something considered unacceptable. As Berger and Luckmann would say, as soon as an objective social world is established the possibility of reification is never far away, (1967:89). The discourse on conflicts is a discourse on women and children because they are the main victims. Whenever there is a religious or ethnic conflict in Nigeria, which is a common feature, women and children come off worst for it. The exclusion of women from decision-making and their confinement to domestic chores make them more vulnerable and unprepared to react in the face of conflicts, (Torkula 2006:13).

The media in Nigeria

The media in Nigeria, besides their silence on serious social and ethical issues are obliterated says Kate Omenugha by stories of the rich, the affluent, top government officials, heads of government and their relations. “Nigerian media characteristically contain empty words such as ‘Government has been advised to provide rural community with good drinking water to eradicate guinea worms’; ‘A former head of state has called for an improvement in the life of rural dwellers’… Often times, who said what becomes more important than what was said; the maker of news become more important than the news itself.” (2005:41). Over the years the discourse on the theories of ideology has been shifting. I tend to see Nigeria in Foucault’s discourse on ideology: A country that knows about greatness and not what it takes to be great, a country that has all it takes to be successful and not the will to succeed, but always on top the situation.

The media in Nigeria have in the past stood powerfully especially the print media, against elements that have towed the country towards the precipice, as in the failed Obasanjo’s planned Third Term but a section of the media is still traditional and myopic, representing sectional, tribal and party interest above that of the country. The common scenario is that of media outfits springing up like mushrooms at electioneering and withering soon after the season. The fight against the marginalisation of women is not rooted in the Nigerian media, especially in the movie industry where women are continually represented as second class citizens, thus embellishing established stereotype images of their inferior status. Incessant industrial actions by the university academic union are common and they have serious consequences not only for the students and the parents who spend extra hard earned resources on sending children back and forth for studying nothing but most of all for the nation that will be denied quality leadership. No responsible government in the world will ever ignore its obligation to the education of its citizens, but the leadership in Nigeria benefits immensely from an uneducated citizenry that will continue to bow and scrape to them, having robbed it of quality education by antagonizing the academic union.

The media, mobile phones, blogs, YouTube, Face book pages and Twitter feeds were said to have been instrumental in the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia, following the dramatic death of 26 year old university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi on January 4, 2011, (Miladi 2011:8). White would write: “The media located at the cupola of society generally oblivious of the problems… this does not imply that the media are not struggling with truly heroic efforts to play a significant role in the political and economic development in their countries… To be significant means, at a first level, to play a role in opening up equal opportunities for education, good health, decent housing, employment and access to information that are fundamental human rights of all Africans. At a second level, to be significant means facilitating an effective process of democratic decision-making that brings about equal opportunities in education and other areas of human rights. At a third level, significant means changing, as much as possible, the social structure introduced by imperial governments of a small growing elite privileged in education, easy access to positions of power, wealth of information, living in a global culture – and a mass of people in the relatively isolated ‘indigenous interior’ with little hope of realizing their basic human rights.” (2011:33-34).

The cause for rural development and respect for the rule of law are no longer priorities and serious matters of nationhood, protests and civil demonstrations against social and political wrongs are watered down along fault lines of ethnicity and political associations used by the dominant class to maintain their hegemony. In the midst of this chaos we find the media that continue to feed the audience with the same venom. What our country needs as reflected in the World Day of Peace message is: “Those responsible for policy to work for the creation of institutions, laws, and environments of life that are permeated by a transcendent humanism that offers new generations opportunities to fully realise themselves and to build a civilization of fraternal love directed toward a more profound awareness of truth, freedom, of love, and of justice for all persons.” (Vatican Information Service: 2011).

The media are known not to be simply transmitting already existing meaning, but by actively selecting and presenting, they are structuring and shaping the practice of and production of meaning. Kevin Williams says that this ‘signifying practice’ is the power of the media. As there are multiple meanings of reality, the power of the media rests in how they decide to signify events. Ideology therefore is not imposed on the media but is something the media play a role in creating and constructing, (2003:159). This signifying practice is not quite different from this sense of ideology as the media have taken over the organizing function of the society and have made class the central organizing principle. (Fiske 1990:165). At such difficult times one expects that the media should be more active in shaping events to a positive end than the dead-end the country seems to be heading towards as a nation.

Ethical communication

The power of ethical communication separates the instrument from the agent: the instruments of communication in themselves are impotent, it is the agent, the communicator who must be ethical in his or her vocation, acting with diligence and self restraint putting the overall good of the individual and the community above those of the private organisation. The ubiquitous character of the media does not remove a critical factor in media and mass media in particular that defines ethics: their linearity. The media flow from top down; those at the top decide how those down at the bottom will access them. This makes the individual communicator ethically responsible for what affects the consumer. At the moment only

The internet in itself stands apart from mass media due to its nonlinear architecture. Information flow in a mass media system is linear, passing through an hourglass-shaped system of filters, gatekeepers and value enhancers. The neck of the hourglass represents the place where data are converted into media content. This task is usually carried out by information professionals, such as journalists or entertainment producers. On the other hand, the internet is made up of interconnected nodes that allow content formation to take place simultaneously and at locations distributed across the network, (Bucy – Newhagen 2004:14-15).

The difference in the message of salvation is shown by Mary Hulst, who in Jesus loving neighbours argues how the person of Jesus could not be separated from the healings and message of love he communicated; they are “helpful and intriguing regardless of what one believes about his death and resurrection.” (2009:19). John Merrill quoting Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, says, “Every human act has a universal dimension, as a result ethical discipline, careful discernment, and wholesome conduct are necessary for life to be meaningful and happy … But the modern communicator sees more communication is better, because of the struggle for profits and power, self indulgence seems to build into communication, especially institutional communication and the concept of responsibility is largely ignored.” (2009:12). According to Merrill, “The modern man prefers the publishing of social frictions; wars, conflicts and hate actions and polemics rather than harmony, cooperation and dialogue, that universal sense of responsibility where everyone is considered important, a kind of mega communitarianism that defeats class structures.” (Merrill 2009:13).

Why other events are not so swiftly covered and reported, has been dismissively attributed to their media value and interest. So easily too is the question of media agenda a blanket excuse for media selectivity.

The city is made up of us all. Each of us contributes to its life and its moral climate, for good or for evil. The confine between good and evil passes through each of our hearts. Yet, the mass media tend to make us feel as if we are spectators, as if evil only concerned others, and that certain things could never happen to us. Whereas we are all ‘actors’ and in evil as in good, our behaviour has an effect on others, (Benedict XVI: 2009).

 Ignacio Ramonet former editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomathique had proposed the creation of Media Watch Global for public service media, to help advance good citizens because the media have lost their power of correcting the malfunctions of democracy to globalization, (Lee 2009:4). This would be called ‘sponsored communication’ or non public opinion that is manipulated from above, a phrase proposed by Jϋrgen Habermas, (Curran 2002:90-91). The collective goal of Media Watch Global is:

One of humanity’s most precious rights is the right to communicate freely its thoughts and opinions. No law should be allowed arbitrarily to restrict press freedom and the freedom of speech. But these freedoms can only be exercised by media enterprises if they do not infringe other rights that are equally sacred, such as the right of each citizen to have access to uncontaminated news. Under the pretext of freedom of expression, media enterprises should not be allowed to disseminate false news, or conduct campaigns of ideological propaganda, (Lee 2009:4).

The MWG according to Ramonet as quoted by Philip Lee will ensure access to information and media content and promote reforms that will encourage diversity and sources and content that are not controlled by the ruling class or state. In a democracy, when one sector alone has too much power in whatever area of life, but above all in the life of the economy or the media, it’s obvious that an imbalance is created – because the economy is all-important and the media create public opinion and, therefore, have an impact on democracy. If a few families simultaneously hold a significant portion of economic power and a major part of media power, a force is being created that is going to oppose any reforms aimed at greater balance.

Ronald C. Arnett in appraising Paulo Freire’s use of literacy as a communicative necessity for discernment and pragmatic participation in shaping a society’s political direction says that “the power of the word, in writing, in speech, and in deliberative change is a literacy that could change the prevailing historical consciousness. Paolo Freire’s goal was to change poverty and oppression by defeating the banking concept of education and narrative sickness. The term narrative in this case, is a story that has no entrance for questioning. The sickness rests not with the fact that there is a narrative, but with the inability of another to question the content and implications of a given content or narratives, to move a narrative into the realm of ideological dictate.” (2010:117).  Literacy works deconstructively as a counter to unreflective acceptance of a given story. The banking concept and narrative sickness work hand-in-hand to offer direction without democratic participation.” (Arnett 2009:118).  Naturally the burden rests on the agent to ensure that the instruments conform to general ethical standards, hence:

 An ethical communicator according to these standards would have a basic concern for the good of others. A sense of compassion will undergird his or her messages… The communicator would form messages with restraint and moderation, and would not incite others to anger and violence. Communication would strive to embrace others, to empathize with them, to support them, to inspire them, to calm their anxieties, and to bring them comfort. (Merrill 2009:14).

 An effective organisation is determined partly by an effective communication strategy, and for believers, the objective truth remains Jesus Christ the source of all truths, and the message is built around the respect for the dignity of man who in conscience recognizes the divine will to be in communion with man and every aspect of communication must be geared towards the common good.  Sadly enough our media are saturated with negativities and consumed with stories of sex, crime, useless entertainment and sometimes they transmit stereotype images about other groups. This “sensationalism and sex exploration denigrates civility and undermines a realistic picture of society.” (Merrill 2009:15).

Conclusion

Communication and community appear to have some stronger relationship than sometimes understood. According to David Depew and John D. Peters, communities, relationships, families, regions, and states are held together by communication. They attribute this notion to Aristotle, who in his Politics said that “Every state is a community, koinonia, which makes something one and common, koinon…Aristotle says that it is speech, logos that binds this nested hierarchy of communities together. Although the voice, phone of animals can certainly reveal the pleasant and the painful, it is the speech, logos of human beings that uniquely serves to reveal the useful and the harmful, and the just and unjust… it is community in these matters that makes both a household and a state.” (2001:3-4). The idea was that communities must be small in size where participatory communication was enabled by face-to-face interpersonal communication for resolving issues. Depew and Peters maintain that the fathers of America however nursed the idea of big communities that would be integrated by communication, linked by a super information highway, a means of communication that would connect the communities passing through rivers, mountains and valleys. The railway was an answer, then the telegraph, the printing presses and then the electronic media. The newspaper as media would be seen as integrating classes in a great community and galvanizing different hierarchies in the society towards oneness; the media were already conceived as sustaining democracy and development.(2001:5-6). And that is what they should be in the Nigerian context.

 As Kevin Robins and Asu Aksoy found in their research work on Turkish migrants in the UK, what we expect of our media is “a culture in a spirit of public service, the governing principle that is regulated by ‘public interest’, a service that contributes to the political and cultural life of the nation. That dual role of bringing into being a culture common to the whole populations: serving the public sphere of the nation state and focusing on national cultural identification’ have been replaced by a shift in media deregulatory principles moving from national public interest to a new regulatory regime driven by economic and entrepreneurial imperatives.” (2005:41-42). The media in Nigeria and especially the Church media can learn to focus on public interest and educate not just the ruled but the rulers who know the importance of caps and hats in Nigeria’s cultural dress but as Dan Agbese would say, ‘do not consider thinking caps as necessary sartorial for leaders’. (2010).

Faced by grave puzzles of existence of their generation, communicators must bear the burden of sound and ethical decisions. As Benedict XVI said, “We clearly see continuous progress towards an ever greater mastery of nature. Yet in the field of ethical awareness and moral decision-making, there is no similar possibility of accumulation for the simple reason that man’s freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others.” (2007). The Holy Father argues that since man is free and freedom fragile, this freedom must be constantly won over for the cause of good, rejecting false decisions made in previous generations and that anyone who promises a permanent state of goodness on earth is making a false promise and overlooking human freedom  (Benedict XVI: 2007). The atheism of the present age is that there is no God to create justice, so man assumes the position of God to establish justice, to achieve what he claims God is incapable of doing in the face of poverty, injustice and evil. Both, says Benedict XVI are presumptuous and intrinsically false. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope. (2007). These are sound issues that the media in Nigeria can take up and shape our future isolating the atheism of extremist groups and their false ideologies.

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Robins K. – A. Aksoy, (2005) New complexities of transnational media cultures, in Oscar HEMER – Thomas TUFTE (Edd.), Media & glocal change. Rethinking communication for development, Buenos Aires: Clacso Books, 41-42

Rubingh E. (1969), Sons of Tiv, Michigan: Baker Book House, 54-55.

Schineller P. (2004) The voice of the voiceless, Ibadan: Daily Graphics.

Sir Henry William’s report of the commission appointed to enquire into the fears of minorities (1958), LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 136-137.

Suberu T. R. (2005) Conflict and accommodation in the Nigerian federation 1999-2003, in A.T. Gana – Y. Omelle (eds.), Democratic rebirth in Nigeria vol. one , New Jersey: Africanus Multimedia.

THE NATION (2010) Editorial, Arrest headsman Sale Bayari, Sunday, March 14, 13

Thompson B. J. (1990) Ideology and modern culture: Standford: Standford University Press.

Torkula A. A. (2006) Pontifical Mass for peace & reconciliation in Tivland, Makurdi: Oracle, 26 September.

Tyoden S. G. (2005) State and security of Nigeria’s fourth republic, in Aaron T. GANA – Yakubu B.C. OMELLE (Edd.), Democratic rebirth in Nigeria, volume one, New Jersey: Africarus Multi-media, 172.

White R. (2011) Tunisia: Why social media are (relatively!) insignificant in Africa, in «Media Development» (LVIII) 1, 33-34.

Williams K. (2003) Understanding media theory. London: Arnold, 159

Vatican Information Service (2011) Youth protagonists of 45th World Day of Peace: Vatican City, May 19.

 

  • Ø Aondover M. IORAPUU is of the faculty of science and social communication, Pontifical Salesian University, Rome, Italy.

 MEANING PRODUCTION IN NIGERIA’S SOCIAL REALITY: BETWEEN MEDIA IDEOLOGY AND ETHICAL COMMUNICATION

By Aondover M.IORAPUU

Introduction

Locating meaning in media production is a difficult and tricky art, and not everyone is capable of unveiling the signification media artefacts sometimes transmit, yet we are contented with the ‘free lunch’; what we read, hear and see appears gratis. Beyond what is seemingly free from the media is a hidden ideology.  The theories on the all powerful media and their mediated effects, their being capable of setting agenda for us etc notwithstanding, the media in themselves are not so efficacious without human interference. Theories such as symbolic interactionism, that meaning comes from our interaction with each other and that meaning does not exist on its own but is socially produced, or even the mediated influence of opinion leaders, explain the dynamic relationship presumed and created by media producers. Understanding meaning in media artefacts therefore requires a good understanding of the ideology behind all the production processes vis à vis good principles and ethical values such media products communicate. What we know of media ideology seems to be all about power and control practices, propaganda and manipulation of attitudes that dim out ethical principles that define communication; a universal pattern that takes a dramatic style in developing nations like Nigeria because of the uncharacteristic features of her society: dangling between modern and traditional, banana and failed, democratic and autocratic state. This articles scours through a plethora of themes seeking dominance on the Nigerian terrain and suggests how meaning production can assume dominance in our media now overshadowed by other competing themes that seem to besiege the country.

Ideology and media ideologies in social reality

Ideology is a complex and dynamic concept that carries a kaleidoscopic meaning which is constantly changing. The origin of the term according to John Thompson is attributed to a wealthy and educated nobleman called Destutt de Tracy, who had studied the works of the Enlightenment thinkers and wanted to preserve them from being corrupted following the French Revolution. “We cannot know things in themselves but only through ideas formed by our sensations of them. If we could analyse these ideas and sensations in a systematic way, we could provide a firm basis for all scientific knowledge and draw inferences of a more practical kind. The name de Tracy proposed for this incipient and ambitious enterprise was ideology – literally ‘the science of idea! Ideology was to be positive, useful and susceptible of rigorous exactitude.” (1990: 29-30). The negative perception of ideology on the other hand is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte who had staged a coup d’ état in 1799 three years after de Tracy had introduced the term ideology; he used some of the ideas, but when his popularity waned and his authority weakened he blamed it on ‘ideologues’. Napoleon attacked ideologues for undermining the state and rule of law and condemned all religious and philosophical thoughts as ideology. This is how ideology became a mistrusted term and slipped into politics losing its Enlightenment spirit. (Thompson: 33-37). Later, says Edgar and Sedgwick, Marx will make it an important critical concept, suggesting that in any society the ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ideas, especially in the social world. For Marx ideology is a distortion and against true knowledge, hence the common pejorative understanding, (Edgar and Sedgwick, 1999: 189-190).

In the past capitalism and communism were the commonest known ideologies, however there are many others today that are associated with radical and fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram, silent racism or ethnicism, and superior cultures. Many may not notice them for several factors: indifference, false consciousness, ignorance, media inaccessibility: the power of the media; who says it is correct! The naming of people by colour and the representation of women for instance as seen especially in the media are ideological.  When we refer to others not like us ‘as the other’ whether as Chinese, Somalis and eventually down to the local naming of north and south, Hausa and Igbo, Tiv and Jukum, Yoruba and Fulani, believer and non believer, how do we expect that they interpret our remarks as complimentary? You cannot for instance, as Githinji says, “swear or use taboo words in public and claim that you did not intend to offend anyone.” (2008:18). “Language” says Githinji “enshrines or embodies all dispositions as a prison and window of thought. Viewing women as groups rather than individuals in turn become the fodder for negative stereotypes because individuals cannot be stereotyped but groups can.” (2008:25). All this get transmitted through the media and the selection of that material depends on the communicator, where other values that are contrary to the communicator’s opinion are undermined. The communicator through the media plays a significant role in sustaining ideological practices, and creating signification that governs ethical values in the social reality of a people, especially when silent on serious social issues affecting the community.

 In the media, ideology is often used as a system of beliefs characteristic of a particular class, it is a system of illusory beliefs, false ideas as well as the general processes of the production of meanings or ideals. It is often seen as a system of false beliefs sustained by the ruling class through different organs like the media, education, politics, business and entertainment through the production of meaning. It is also called ‘exnomination’, that is, assuming that the values of the superior are basic and natural and obvious and need no explanations, but those of the other require explanations. (Fiske, 2002: 166-167).

As part of mediation or mediatization, the media play a role in constructing ideology because they determine much of what we do and how we do it. For Foucault, in performing the surveillance or watchdog role, the media subject individuals and groups to regular examination to ascertain how healthy or unhealthy they are, just as science and scientific methods developed from the eighteenth century established through observational methods what was right and what was wrong. The medical checkups we undertake under the watchful observation of medical experts determine our bill of health.  (Williams, 2004:160). In the same manner the concept of surveillance becomes the invisible mechanism through which institutions seek and hide their power regulating what is considered acceptable and civil and what is unacceptable and uncivil thus requiring correction. The power to regulate behaviour or conduct thus rests with the media that select what should be in the public domain and what should be ignored. Unfortunately not all that the media select is in the public interest and good.

The media therefore have a similar influence on democracy and society in general in their ideological functions as powerful instruments capable of changing people’s behaviour and shaping them in their non transparency and non representation of reality. This they achieve through agenda setting, and acting as myths and sacrosanct among other roles. However, society does not view the media beyond their representational function to unveil how they are manipulated by individuals who determine what is produced.

Everyone knows that the new information technologies are capable of being powerful instruments for unity and peace, but also for destruction and division. From a moral standpoint they can offer either a service or a disservice, propagate truth as well as falsehood, propose what is base as well as what is beautiful. The flood of news or non news, to say nothing of images, can be informative but also powerfully manipulative. Information can readily become disinformation, and formation deformation. The media can be a force for authentic humanization, but just as easily prove dehumanizing. (BENEDICT XVI, 2011:143).

Society’s conscious or unconscious trust of media organisations for their capacity for doing only good has reinforced the idea that we are merely passive before the media but others argue against such false consciousness and claim that ideology is the reality lived every day by the experiences of the people. “However, this reality is the imaginary picture of the real capitalist conditions without revealing the truth. There are other intervening factors that inspire ideology such as: the individual communicator for instance indulges in his opinions, racial, tribal, and nationality using the instruments of the media as a shield.” (Fiske, 2002: 174-175). The Media according to Kevin Williams have changed since the 1980s, when they were separated from ideology, and the structuralist revolution had shifted discussion of ideology to explore how meaning was made by social institutions such as the media. Thus the concept of mediatization or mediation started gaining force; the media were seen as ‘part of the politics of signification.’ In other words, the media were not just reflecting reality, they were actively defining reality, and they were involved in the reproduction of ideology as they produced meaning. (2004: 159).

The functioning of ideology

Today wars and conflicts are reported as oxymoron, they are spectaculars displaying the latest weapons and justifying the aggressors and vilifying the victims in the name of just wars, preventive actions and fighting terrorists. The media, through different apparatuses construct these dominant theories and representations of the daily behaviour of people; in the process they promote values and beliefs and interpellation or the instruction on how to behave and follow these values as normal processes of growth. Interpellation means that individuals have existing social identities and through ideological apparatuses they learn their sense of identity; these cultural conventions, family relations and language are all pre-structured to communicate these values. (Williams, 148-149). As the Pope puts it:

What need we have of this beautiful piece of news! Every day, through newspapers, television and radio, evil is recounted, repeated, amplified, making us accustomed to the most terrible things, making us insensitive and, in some way, intoxicating us, because the negative is never fully purged and accumulates day after day. The heart becomes harder and thoughts become darker. (BENEDICT XVI, 2009).

The concept of ideology understood by Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci and which Foucault tried to modernize is much the same: Ideology understood as false consciousness, as hegemony and surveillance, where power is exercised and individuals or groups are controlled, (Williams, 160).  Antonio Gramsci however takes ideology to our day rejecting the idea offered by classical Marxism that people were passive receivers of dominant class ideology. Dominance according to Gramsci was not easily imposed because people are not brain-washed as imagined; the ruling ideology is often negotiated through hegemony; a constant struggle between the ruling and the ruled. The ruling ideology today is that of hegemony, where we all participate in what shapes our society; as a result subjugation is negotiated and internalized as a normal way of life, but the dominant perspective remains the deciding factor and the status quo, (Fiske, 2002: 176). The difference lies in the ability of the ruling class to present itself as well as equipped to attend to the interests of both classes. This is achieved through constant negotiations that accommodate their interests and views. When the consensus fails, there is the use of force; but it is the ability of the ruling class to mobilize consent through the apparatuses or institutions like the media that plays a vital role in weakening resistance, (Williams, 2004: 150). Ideology therefore is still very active, whether negotiated or gang-pressed as forcing labour unions to abandon civil strikes or getting a group of gangs in the streets to support unpopular decisions, commonplace in Nigeria!

Dominant ideology as power is therefore wielded through invisible apparatuses and artifacts which have become a site for struggle and competition. When you consider media artefacts like Blackberry, Apple, I-Phones, Samsung etc and what ideology they represent, you cannot help but agree with Gramsci: connectivity, success, class, power, position, etc. it is no longer a question of race, colour or education, it is a question of class, style and cognitive ability in the new culture. It is this class ideology that is watering down traditional values in media artefacts, because the old discriminatory style is no longer the traditional characteristic, it is a question of class. These media are the inventions of intelligent brains, but populated by people who continue to sustain the class war on a different level. This is where the media in Nigeria should cut an edge looking at the reality of our situation. Though not referring to Nigeria the Pope said:

Our cities are inhabited by “invisible men and women”, people who “now and again appear on the front pages or on television screens, and are exploited to the last drop for as long as their news and image attract attention. This is a perverse mechanism which unfortunately we find difficult to resist. The city first hides people then exposes to the public, without pity or with false pity”, when the truth is that “each human story is a sacred story and calls for the greatest respect.” (BENEDICT XVI: 2009).

Those media professionals publishing what they do not believe in, falsehood to protect a dominant interest and group, apart from the many innocent villagers compelled to lie of projects not executed: all form part of the manipulated class. Boko Haram for instance has become a dominant ideology; they have tried so many ways to negotiate its influence and that seems to be working, with the Nigerian president and his government appearing on the pages of papers and television screens saying what they do not know or believe to be true for various motives: yesterday they were on top of the situation, today they are begging Boko Haram to show its face for negotiation, tomorrow they will ask Nigerians to be patient – a plan for victory is in the pipeline. (Boko Haram is an extremist group in the far north of Nigeria that wants to enthrone Islamic rule in the twelve states of northern Nigeria and is opposed to Western education. The group is said to be loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, and all those who do not follow its strict ideology, whether Muslims or Christians, are considered infidels. This is the type of Islam the English suspected before independence that Northern Nigeria was courting the Sudan, Ajaero, 2012).

Nigeria’s reality

The Nigerian space is a contested terrain and every spanner is thrown into the machine to conquer every meter, (Akpan-Obong, 2009: 157). Out of the over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, only the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo groups are considered dominant and therefore more important, the WAZOBIA, in reference to the word ‘come’ in the three major languages, frequently used to define the cultural character of the Nigerian nation,  (Rubingh, 1968: 54-55). Nigeria was plunged into a civil war shortly after independence, (Rubingh: 56). Today, Plateau state is the hot-bed for ethno-religious unrest, thousands already dead in some of the worst ethno-religious intolerance cases Nigeria has ever seen since the Tiv-Jukum crisis. The unrest begins with one and ends up with the other, from ethnic or sectional and ends up as religious; between Christians and Muslims, or northerners and southerners. (Tyoden 2005: 172). Religion and ethnicity for Nigeria are sensitive issues; the question of where you come from and what is your religion are the dominant themes in the body polity of the country, even when there is a calm and polished façade displayed to hide the reality.

In the country, unity has historically been fragile and political actions are carefully managed (or manipulated in some cases) to avoid any hint of ethnic regional or religious biases. The Nigerian space is literally a contested terrain. There are constant ethnic and religious conflicts rooted in claims to space (or land). One comes from a specific, time-less and static ‘place of origin’ regardless of place of birth or residence, (Akpan-Obong 2009: 157).

In Nigeria these events well up to determine the economy and political stability, for instance besides the three major tribes, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo the rest fall in the minority category. The Middle-Belt region or central Nigeria with many of the strong minorities remains one volatile region that keeps the country on a higher alert level more than even the Niger Delta. And who will want to invest in such a volatile environment? Meanwhile even among the minorities there is distrust as revealed in the quest for a Middle Belt state, according to the Sir Henry Willink’s Report of the Commission Fears of Minorities:

In the rest of the population which was nearly half the whole, the Commission found that there was some anxiety at the thought of a state in which the Tiv would be the dominating element. One witness was said to have expressed this view succinctly in the statement that he preferred the Fulani, because they were further away. Although naturally there were exceptions in each part of the province, broadly speaking the Tiv were in favour and the rest not. There were the seven southern districts of Zaria, clearly differentiated from the northern part, ruled by Fulani District Heads but never completely absorbed into the Northern system. (1958:136).

These seven districts were derogatorily referred to as banza bakwe, the useless or fake seven. These were the stronghold of the Middle Belt Movement, (Sir Henry Willink’s Report of the Commission Fears of Minorities 1958:136-137). Today those Fulanis that were thought to be far away are not just within the Middle Belt, they are constantly attacking Tivland; and what has become of those seven districts? In Nigeria, politics is spoken in geo-political terms to avoid the sensitive religious, tribal and sectional sentiments that form its foundation. The reasons for the scenario painted on the Middle Belt include the fact that the Tiv are always opposed to any form of Hausa-Fulani domination, often translated as their opposition to Islam.

 The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria prescribed the equitable distribution of public opportunities and resources among persons from or indigenes of all the states of the federation, yet political discrimination and exclusion and marginalization still continue, pitting so-called indigenes against settlers or non-indigenes. As Suberu says, a practice or provision that has encouraged the exclusion of the so-called non-indigenes from valued opportunities entails educational admissions, lands and related resources, employment opportunities and political appointments, all aimed at slicing the ‘national cake-sharing’ psychosis. ( 2005:231). Dan Agbese says the amendment of the constitution was an opportunity to set things right but was treated, ‘like an esoteric document beyond the ken of an average citizen, the chance lost once again that would have been used to tackle those problems that periodically rock the foundation of the famous amalgamation in 1914’.

Our federalism is bastardized with a unitary system superimposed on a weakened federal structure. The issues that confront the present system and need amendments according to those who abhor the current structure include: Fiscal federalism to unitary federalism as it relates to a three tier system of government, where the federal authority controls the states and local governments and the absence of citizenship rights that protect them from the criminal arbitrariness of their rulers, (Agbese 2011:5).

The political class therefore succeeds in stifling the only remaining lifeline of the populace: the constitution. What they call for in return is anarchy and violence since there is no other outlet for the ordinary people to protest and express their discontent over proceedings in their country. These events are manifest in different forms, for example the events that led to the pogrom in Jos and other environs of Plateau state, according to The Nation, a national daily, were reminiscent of those events that preceded the civil war in 1967, (THE NATION 2010:18). As a multicultural and multi-ethnic society within a traditional set up, the factors of tribe and clan are important elements in daily life, especially the religious and are bound to be around for a while. The bottom line however, is a political leadership that can guarantee every Nigerian the full right of citizenship anywhere in the country.

The twin issues of religion and ethnicity, no doubt form a tight rope for Nigeria’s walk to safer shores, (Kukah 2001: 102). Religious fundamentalism and its politicization only help to expose the vulnerability of the political structure rotten by corruption. These conflicts are dovetailed with the various segments that populate Nigeria and the state of lawlessness in Nigeria can be attributed to no one single factor.

The debate over the religious status of the Nigerian state remains one of the most passionate and acrimonious. The debate has often been beclouded by bellicosity, zealotry, arrogance and prejudices. In the end, there has always been more heat than light. (Kukah 2001:102).

Nigeria’s membership of some Islamic organizations like the Organization of Islamic Countries (O.I.C.), the introduction of the Sharia in some states in the north and the determination of Muslim leaders of the north to have the Sharia adopted as a legal system are partly responsible for the pogrom going on in some parts of the Middle Belt region, (Schineller 2002:411-415). The dynamics of violence in Nigeria continue to change, the current anarchists are members of Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist sect attacking the north with explosives, and killing many innocent people. Following the recent attack on the Church of God in Jos, Christian leaders have warned of reprisal attacks and the risk of a civil war, (Koffi 2012:15). Many people have been killed in such attacks (Newswatch 2012:9). It does not matter who gets killed before serious and decisive actions are taken by the leaders who have sworn to defend the nation and its citizens. The professors, students and other victims are ordinary people in the eyes of the ruling class.

The aftermath of these conflicts and ideological underpinning is the consequence women bear; whether the resultant effect is the enthronement of the Sharia or the institutionalization of a cultural mode, the ultimate price is paid by the women. Women are the target that will be objectified and reified. Women are objectified as commodities or objects for man’s use and are treated as non human beings. They will be the ones to be stoned to death for adultery and for wearing something considered unacceptable. As Berger and Luckmann would say, as soon as an objective social world is established the possibility of reification is never far away, (1967:89). The discourse on conflicts is a discourse on women and children because they are the main victims. Whenever there is a religious or ethnic conflict in Nigeria, which is a common feature, women and children come off worst for it. The exclusion of women from decision-making and their confinement to domestic chores make them more vulnerable and unprepared to react in the face of conflicts, (Torkula 2006:13).

The media in Nigeria

The media in Nigeria, besides their silence on serious social and ethical issues are obliterated says Kate Omenugha by stories of the rich, the affluent, top government officials, heads of government and their relations. “Nigerian media characteristically contain empty words such as ‘Government has been advised to provide rural community with good drinking water to eradicate guinea worms’; ‘A former head of state has called for an improvement in the life of rural dwellers’… Often times, who said what becomes more important than what was said; the maker of news become more important than the news itself.” (2005:41). Over the years the discourse on the theories of ideology has been shifting. I tend to see Nigeria in Foucault’s discourse on ideology: A country that knows about greatness and not what it takes to be great, a country that has all it takes to be successful and not the will to succeed, but always on top the situation.

The media in Nigeria have in the past stood powerfully especially the print media, against elements that have towed the country towards the precipice, as in the failed Obasanjo’s planned Third Term but a section of the media is still traditional and myopic, representing sectional, tribal and party interest above that of the country. The common scenario is that of media outfits springing up like mushrooms at electioneering and withering soon after the season. The fight against the marginalisation of women is not rooted in the Nigerian media, especially in the movie industry where women are continually represented as second class citizens, thus embellishing established stereotype images of their inferior status. Incessant industrial actions by the university academic union are common and they have serious consequences not only for the students and the parents who spend extra hard earned resources on sending children back and forth for studying nothing but most of all for the nation that will be denied quality leadership. No responsible government in the world will ever ignore its obligation to the education of its citizens, but the leadership in Nigeria benefits immensely from an uneducated citizenry that will continue to bow and scrape to them, having robbed it of quality education by antagonizing the academic union.

The media, mobile phones, blogs, YouTube, Face book pages and Twitter feeds were said to have been instrumental in the Arab Spring that began in Tunisia, following the dramatic death of 26 year old university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi on January 4, 2011, (Miladi 2011:8). White would write: “The media located at the cupola of society generally oblivious of the problems… this does not imply that the media are not struggling with truly heroic efforts to play a significant role in the political and economic development in their countries… To be significant means, at a first level, to play a role in opening up equal opportunities for education, good health, decent housing, employment and access to information that are fundamental human rights of all Africans. At a second level, to be significant means facilitating an effective process of democratic decision-making that brings about equal opportunities in education and other areas of human rights. At a third level, significant means changing, as much as possible, the social structure introduced by imperial governments of a small growing elite privileged in education, easy access to positions of power, wealth of information, living in a global culture – and a mass of people in the relatively isolated ‘indigenous interior’ with little hope of realizing their basic human rights.” (2011:33-34).

The cause for rural development and respect for the rule of law are no longer priorities and serious matters of nationhood, protests and civil demonstrations against social and political wrongs are watered down along fault lines of ethnicity and political associations used by the dominant class to maintain their hegemony. In the midst of this chaos we find the media that continue to feed the audience with the same venom. What our country needs as reflected in the World Day of Peace message is: “Those responsible for policy to work for the creation of institutions, laws, and environments of life that are permeated by a transcendent humanism that offers new generations opportunities to fully realise themselves and to build a civilization of fraternal love directed toward a more profound awareness of truth, freedom, of love, and of justice for all persons.” (Vatican Information Service: 2011).

The media are known not to be simply transmitting already existing meaning, but by actively selecting and presenting, they are structuring and shaping the practice of and production of meaning. Kevin Williams says that this ‘signifying practice’ is the power of the media. As there are multiple meanings of reality, the power of the media rests in how they decide to signify events. Ideology therefore is not imposed on the media but is something the media play a role in creating and constructing, (2003:159). This signifying practice is not quite different from this sense of ideology as the media have taken over the organizing function of the society and have made class the central organizing principle. (Fiske 1990:165). At such difficult times one expects that the media should be more active in shaping events to a positive end than the dead-end the country seems to be heading towards as a nation.

Ethical communication

The power of ethical communication separates the instrument from the agent: the instruments of communication in themselves are impotent, it is the agent, the communicator who must be ethical in his or her vocation, acting with diligence and self restraint putting the overall good of the individual and the community above those of the private organisation. The ubiquitous character of the media does not remove a critical factor in media and mass media in particular that defines ethics: their linearity. The media flow from top down; those at the top decide how those down at the bottom will access them. This makes the individual communicator ethically responsible for what affects the consumer. At the moment only

The internet in itself stands apart from mass media due to its nonlinear architecture. Information flow in a mass media system is linear, passing through an hourglass-shaped system of filters, gatekeepers and value enhancers. The neck of the hourglass represents the place where data are converted into media content. This task is usually carried out by information professionals, such as journalists or entertainment producers. On the other hand, the internet is made up of interconnected nodes that allow content formation to take place simultaneously and at locations distributed across the network, (Bucy – Newhagen 2004:14-15).

The difference in the message of salvation is shown by Mary Hulst, who in Jesus loving neighbours argues how the person of Jesus could not be separated from the healings and message of love he communicated; they are “helpful and intriguing regardless of what one believes about his death and resurrection.” (2009:19). John Merrill quoting Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, says, “Every human act has a universal dimension, as a result ethical discipline, careful discernment, and wholesome conduct are necessary for life to be meaningful and happy … But the modern communicator sees more communication is better, because of the struggle for profits and power, self indulgence seems to build into communication, especially institutional communication and the concept of responsibility is largely ignored.” (2009:12). According to Merrill, “The modern man prefers the publishing of social frictions; wars, conflicts and hate actions and polemics rather than harmony, cooperation and dialogue, that universal sense of responsibility where everyone is considered important, a kind of mega communitarianism that defeats class structures.” (Merrill 2009:13).

Why other events are not so swiftly covered and reported, has been dismissively attributed to their media value and interest. So easily too is the question of media agenda a blanket excuse for media selectivity.

The city is made up of us all. Each of us contributes to its life and its moral climate, for good or for evil. The confine between good and evil passes through each of our hearts. Yet, the mass media tend to make us feel as if we are spectators, as if evil only concerned others, and that certain things could never happen to us. Whereas we are all ‘actors’ and in evil as in good, our behaviour has an effect on others, (Benedict XVI: 2009).

 Ignacio Ramonet former editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomathique had proposed the creation of Media Watch Global for public service media, to help advance good citizens because the media have lost their power of correcting the malfunctions of democracy to globalization, (Lee 2009:4). This would be called ‘sponsored communication’ or non public opinion that is manipulated from above, a phrase proposed by Jϋrgen Habermas, (Curran 2002:90-91). The collective goal of Media Watch Global is:

One of humanity’s most precious rights is the right to communicate freely its thoughts and opinions. No law should be allowed arbitrarily to restrict press freedom and the freedom of speech. But these freedoms can only be exercised by media enterprises if they do not infringe other rights that are equally sacred, such as the right of each citizen to have access to uncontaminated news. Under the pretext of freedom of expression, media enterprises should not be allowed to disseminate false news, or conduct campaigns of ideological propaganda, (Lee 2009:4).

The MWG according to Ramonet as quoted by Philip Lee will ensure access to information and media content and promote reforms that will encourage diversity and sources and content that are not controlled by the ruling class or state. In a democracy, when one sector alone has too much power in whatever area of life, but above all in the life of the economy or the media, it’s obvious that an imbalance is created – because the economy is all-important and the media create public opinion and, therefore, have an impact on democracy. If a few families simultaneously hold a significant portion of economic power and a major part of media power, a force is being created that is going to oppose any reforms aimed at greater balance.

Ronald C. Arnett in appraising Paulo Freire’s use of literacy as a communicative necessity for discernment and pragmatic participation in shaping a society’s political direction says that “the power of the word, in writing, in speech, and in deliberative change is a literacy that could change the prevailing historical consciousness. Paolo Freire’s goal was to change poverty and oppression by defeating the banking concept of education and narrative sickness. The term narrative in this case, is a story that has no entrance for questioning. The sickness rests not with the fact that there is a narrative, but with the inability of another to question the content and implications of a given content or narratives, to move a narrative into the realm of ideological dictate.” (2010:117).  Literacy works deconstructively as a counter to unreflective acceptance of a given story. The banking concept and narrative sickness work hand-in-hand to offer direction without democratic participation.” (Arnett 2009:118).  Naturally the burden rests on the agent to ensure that the instruments conform to general ethical standards, hence:

 An ethical communicator according to these standards would have a basic concern for the good of others. A sense of compassion will undergird his or her messages… The communicator would form messages with restraint and moderation, and would not incite others to anger and violence. Communication would strive to embrace others, to empathize with them, to support them, to inspire them, to calm their anxieties, and to bring them comfort. (Merrill 2009:14).

 An effective organisation is determined partly by an effective communication strategy, and for believers, the objective truth remains Jesus Christ the source of all truths, and the message is built around the respect for the dignity of man who in conscience recognizes the divine will to be in communion with man and every aspect of communication must be geared towards the common good.  Sadly enough our media are saturated with negativities and consumed with stories of sex, crime, useless entertainment and sometimes they transmit stereotype images about other groups. This “sensationalism and sex exploration denigrates civility and undermines a realistic picture of society.” (Merrill 2009:15).

Conclusion

Communication and community appear to have some stronger relationship than sometimes understood. According to David Depew and John D. Peters, communities, relationships, families, regions, and states are held together by communication. They attribute this notion to Aristotle, who in his Politics said that “Every state is a community, koinonia, which makes something one and common, koinon…Aristotle says that it is speech, logos that binds this nested hierarchy of communities together. Although the voice, phone of animals can certainly reveal the pleasant and the painful, it is the speech, logos of human beings that uniquely serves to reveal the useful and the harmful, and the just and unjust… it is community in these matters that makes both a household and a state.” (2001:3-4). The idea was that communities must be small in size where participatory communication was enabled by face-to-face interpersonal communication for resolving issues. Depew and Peters maintain that the fathers of America however nursed the idea of big communities that would be integrated by communication, linked by a super information highway, a means of communication that would connect the communities passing through rivers, mountains and valleys. The railway was an answer, then the telegraph, the printing presses and then the electronic media. The newspaper as media would be seen as integrating classes in a great community and galvanizing different hierarchies in the society towards oneness; the media were already conceived as sustaining democracy and development.(2001:5-6). And that is what they should be in the Nigerian context.

 As Kevin Robins and Asu Aksoy found in their research work on Turkish migrants in the UK, what we expect of our media is “a culture in a spirit of public service, the governing principle that is regulated by ‘public interest’, a service that contributes to the political and cultural life of the nation. That dual role of bringing into being a culture common to the whole populations: serving the public sphere of the nation state and focusing on national cultural identification’ have been replaced by a shift in media deregulatory principles moving from national public interest to a new regulatory regime driven by economic and entrepreneurial imperatives.” (2005:41-42). The media in Nigeria and especially the Church media can learn to focus on public interest and educate not just the ruled but the rulers who know the importance of caps and hats in Nigeria’s cultural dress but as Dan Agbese would say, ‘do not consider thinking caps as necessary sartorial for leaders’. (2010).

Faced by grave puzzles of existence of their generation, communicators must bear the burden of sound and ethical decisions. As Benedict XVI said, “We clearly see continuous progress towards an ever greater mastery of nature. Yet in the field of ethical awareness and moral decision-making, there is no similar possibility of accumulation for the simple reason that man’s freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew. These decisions can never simply be made for us in advance by others.” (2007). The Holy Father argues that since man is free and freedom fragile, this freedom must be constantly won over for the cause of good, rejecting false decisions made in previous generations and that anyone who promises a permanent state of goodness on earth is making a false promise and overlooking human freedom  (Benedict XVI: 2007). The atheism of the present age is that there is no God to create justice, so man assumes the position of God to establish justice, to achieve what he claims God is incapable of doing in the face of poverty, injustice and evil. Both, says Benedict XVI are presumptuous and intrinsically false. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope. (2007). These are sound issues that the media in Nigeria can take up and shape our future isolating the atheism of extremist groups and their false ideologies.

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  • Ø Aondover M. IORAPUU is of the faculty of science and social communication, Pontifical Salesian University, Rome, Italy.

Violence in Contemporary Nigeria as a Corollary of Corruption and Poverty

(Isaiah 1:21-28).  By Gabriel A. Wankar

Introduction

            Violent incidents of varying proportions have characterized the daily life of most Nigerians in recent times, ranging from bombing of places of worship, security and military installations to intimidation of protesters grieving about economic deprivation. In fact, things have snowballed well beyond what one had either feared or hoped, and the Nigerian government seem helpless. This situation of endemic violence was predicted by Bala Usman:

The meaning and significance of the increasingly violent political campaigns built around religious differences in this country today can only be fully understood when seen within the larger context of what has been happening to Nigeria, to Nigerians, and to the whole of the African continent over, at least, the last ten years. Central to this larger context are the momentous changes in the objective conditions of life of the majority of Nigerians, and in their perception of the nature and causes of these conditions, their future prospects and possibilities. (Yusufu Bala Usman, 1987:7)

This article examines recurring violence in Nigeria against the background of lack of access to the economic resources by the majority poor in relation to the life- style of government officials who are in the minority but perpetuate poverty for the larger population. This is fostered by the subordination of the judicial process to the interests of the rich, especially those who have roles of authority and power in the social and administrative structure of the country. The real authors of violence in Nigeria are those who, to protect their privileges, prevent justice by maintaining the structures of oppression. The poor on the other hand hunger and thirst for justice. This article explores ways of restoring justice in Nigeria in the light of the prophet Isaiah.

“If you want peace, work for Justice” Isaiah 1: 21-28

Isaiah is one of the major prophets of the Old Testament times, who vehemently criticized injustice, insisting that corruption and the oppression of the weaker members of the community offended Yahweh’s holiness. Walter Brueggemann describing the consequences of corruption in the eighth century Judah that Isaiah prophesied against in 1:21-28 noted that in such a setting, “Everyone seeks self-advancement, and no one cares anymore for the public good. When there is such self-serving and self-seeking, moreover, the needy of society predictably disappear from the screen of public awareness. Widows and orphans are the litmus test of justice and righteousness.” Walter Brueggemann (1998:22).  The Southern kingdom of Judah had at the time experienced a time of prosperity and some relaxation from outside threats. Sadly, a greater economic stratification of the community took place. The wealthy were getting richer, and the poor were becoming more indigent. In fact, much of the success of the upper class was based on the oppression of the weak and powerless. Yet, those in power were overly confident that their rituals were enough to impress God, and since Jerusalem was God’s holy place, they would be protected from outside threats. It is against this background that prophet Isaiah (749- 701 BCE) brings a message of God’s judgement and calls people to repentance (Brueggemann 1998:8-22). William J. Doorly corroborates this view when he holds that religion in early Israel had deep roots in feelings of marginality:

With the coming of the monarchy, especially during the reign of Solomon, a new class of Israelites came into existence, a rich, elite, urban class. Unfortunately this new urban class prospered at the expense of rural peasants and farmers of Israel. Decisions made by the powerful of Jerusalem and Samaria were frequently not in the best interests of the rural poor. The masses were exploited by the urban elite for the purpose of strengthening the monarchy. Values of a former time were discarded, along with the dependent, trustful relationship with Yahweh, as the sole protector of Israel. (William J. Doorly (1992:4).

In verse 23 Isaiah says: “Your princes are rebels and comrades of thieves; each one of them loves a bribe and looks for gifts. The fatherless they defend not, and the widow’s plea does not reach them.” Making an exegetical overview of the entire periscope of Isaiah 1:21- 28, Otto Kaiser holds that the similarity between the thought of Verse 23 and 3:12- 15, 5:22- 24 and 10:1- 4 suggests that it belongs to the beginning of the prophet’s ministry, as does the proclamation of judgement in Verses 24ff; which appears to assume a political situation which is still undisturbed (Otto Kaiser 1972:19). In other words, Isaiah was confronting a situation of corruption that was eating up the society of his time. As it were, at the beginning of the history of God’s dealing with his people Israel, Jerusalem was a fortress of justice, in which the ordinance of the covenant was genuinely in force. However, the city had lost this noble title under the rule of unfaithful judges. Thus, Isaiah was not deceived by outward appearances; for him, what was decisive in passing judgement on the future of the city of God was not its prosperity and apparent security, but the attitude of its inhabitants, and especially of its ruling class, towards God’s demand for righteousness (Kaiser 1972:19). It is an irony that those who ought to be custodians of the law in their capacity as royal officials, were only concerned with seeking their own advantage (V. 23). Whoever had much to pay them, obtained their support. Judges had become protectors of thieves, and those who should maintain order destroyed it. People of the lower classes without influence and property, especially the widows and orphans, who relied on strangers to plead their cause, could not find righteous advocates. The Israel of Isaiah’s day is congruent with what obtains in contemporary Nigeria. The prophet Isaiah and other eighth century prophets generally were courageous messengers of God who brought charges against the corrupt leaders of the people, those who were in positions of power, and those who made decisions in the capital cities: princes, priests, and judges. Nigeria today, certainly stands in need of such voices.

Over the years, the Nigerian Church has struggled with how to address injustice and violence, deriving its principles from the teachings of Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah. The prophets do not rest their teaching on legal prescriptions, but rather on “how God has acted in Israel’s history, and they take over the diction of the wisdom tradition, in which God is the vindicator of the poor and the judge of those who oppress them” (Joseph Jensen 2006:175). This prophetic way of dealing with ethical concerns, especially of corruption and oppression creates tension in Christian thought on discerning the relationship between the Gospel, and modern social order. One of the most perceptive Latin American theologians, Jose Miguez-Bonino, believes that violence is a cost that must be estimated and pondered in relation to a particular revolutionary situation: “Injustice, slave labour, hunger, exploitation are forms of violence that must be weighed against the cost of revolutionary violence.” Jose Miguez-Bonino (1967:108). This requires the realization by the powerless that they need no longer remain powerless, and they can now begin to forge the tools of their own emancipation. In this era of instant communication, the powerless are discovering that a few people have most of the world’s goods, that most people have very little of the world’s goods, and there is no reason it should remain that way. Camilo Torres, a Columbian Priest, for his part, becoming more and more aware of the Social injustice around him and of the unwillingness, or inability, of political groups to work for significant change sees uniting leftists groups to overcome oppression is part of his mission: “The essence of Christianity is love of neighbour and only through revolution can the welfare of the majority be attained”. (Robert McAfee Brown 1987:49) Although there is no single way to extrapolate a specific ethical “answer”  from one situation to a very different situation, Brown believes in the words of Reinhold Nieburhr: “Neutrality in a social struggle between entrenched and advancing social class means alliance with the entrenched position. In the social struggle we are either on the side of privilege or need.” (Robert McAfee Brown (1987:73).   This resonates what Lisa Sowle Cahill indicates when she describes “what discipleship should look like in the life of the Christian individual and community, and which opens the clear but disconcerting possibility that converted discipleship presumes the in breaking of a kingdom in which it is no longer possible to conduct ‘business as usual.’” Lisa Sowle Cahill (1994:x)   Vatican Council II reflecting on this concern says:

To be sure, the disturbances which so frequently occur in the social order result in part from the natural tensions of economic, political, and social forms. But at a deeper level they flow from man’s pride and selfishness, which contaminate even the social sphere. When the structure of affairs is flawed by the consequences of sin, man, already born with a bent toward evil, finds there new inducements to sin, which cannot be overcome without strenuous efforts and the assistance of grace. (Gaudium et Spes #25)

A major thrust of Old Testament prophetic teaching which Isaiah championed is concern for the social order. If the system is oppressing human dignity, then it is itself doing violence to the oppressed. This violence by political, economic and social structures, despite its seeming legality, its subtle, nonviolent appearances, and its projection by the ruling powers as part of the unchangeable status quo is the situation which provokes a violent defence, the action of revolutionaries who seek to remove the unjust structures (Peter J Henriot 1973:40-43).

Just a year after Vatican Council II, Pope Paul VI, in his 1966 encyclical, Populorum Progressio # 31 spoke of the fact that “men are easily induced to use force to fight against the wrong done to human dignity,” especially when “It is the question of manifest and lasting tyranny that damages the primary rights of the human person and inflicts serious harm on the common good of the country.” Pope John Paul II in various encyclicals recognizes the extent to which selfishness and injustice are embodied in social structures that systematically deny the dignity of human beings, making it clear that the phenomenon called under-development implies systematic violation of human rights, which creates serious dangers for world peace (Gregory Buam & Robert Ellsberg eds. 1989: xii).  In Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (“On Social Concern # 41”), the Pope maintained: “The teaching and spreading of her social doctrine are part of the Church’s evangelizing mission… The condemnation of evils and injustices is also part of that ministry of evangelization in the social field which is an aspect of the Church’s prophetic role.” Thus, Catholic Social Teaching clearly upholds action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world as a constitutive dimension of preaching the gospel. This was a similar concern of the prophets.

Evidence of Violence, Corruption and Poverty in Nigeria Today

There are instances that illustrate the prevalence of violence and corruption in present- day Nigeria. Amnesty International ranks Nigeria at 143 out of 183 corrupt countries on the 2011 corruption index. A few cases of violence and corruption will explain Amnesty International’s ranking of Nigeria.

The ecological crisis in the Niger Delta points to the pathetic nature of corruption. The Niger Delta Region witnessed an upsurge of militancy apparently in protest against the evil of oil exploitation, ecological degradation and neglect of the region. This part of the country became a haven for kidnappers, looters, militants and cult groups that violently terrorized the region.  Security agents declared the youth who participated in these activities criminals. When the late Musa Yar ‘Adua became Nigeria’s President between 2007 and 2009, he granted amnesty to the youth. The amnesty program of Yar ‘Adua administration restored some peace in the region, and an extensive development agenda was put in place to address the problem of poverty and reintegrate the militants into the society, which is on at the moment. A restive Muslim youth group, Boko Haram (Western education is bad) has emerged in Northern Nigeria, as a growing Muslim fundamentalist sect unleashing terror in the northern part of the country. In August 2011, Boko Haram bombed the U. N. headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and killed twenty three people. On Christmas day December 25, 2011, the sect bombed St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State northern Nigeria, killing over thirty people and wounding a significant number of other innocent citizens who had come to worship God at Christmas. Barely two days later the media reported the mindless killing of sixty people in Ebonyi State, eastern Nigeria, with properties worth millions of naira destroyed and hundreds of families displaced. On Sunday March 11,  2012, Boko Haram group again bombed St Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos, central Nigeria, killing innocent worshippers and leaving many others injured, as widely reported by international media.

Amidst religious insecurity, the Nigerian President, Jonathan Goodluck on New Year’s Day January 1, 2012, announced the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy and threw an already angry and frustrated nation into convulsion(Matthew Hassan Kukah 2012:2). Nigerians took to the streets in protest against this decision by Mr President, lasting a week. Nigeria’s President Goodluck was quoted in the Vanguard News of February 22, 2012, to have admitted “the existence of massive corruption in the nation’s oil sector, citing also the banking sector as another area rife with corruption. President Jonathan is not the only Nigerian government official to acknowledge Nigeria’s corruption. The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, also admitted before the Nigerian Senate that the Commission is facing problems of corruption within its staff (Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu Vanguard February 22, 2012). This commission is the highest body charged with fighting corruption in Nigeria. Another Nigerian government official, Comrade Abba Moro, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior was reported in the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper of February 22, 2012 to have accepted that the criminal justice system in the country is sluggish and corrupt. He said this when he summoned the Comptroller- General of Prisons and other top officials of Prisons Service over a recent attack and consequent escape of inmates from the Korton- Karfe Prison, Kogi State.  Corruption has become an official part of government routine in Nigeria. The Nigerian Tribune Newspaper edition of Monday, February 27, 2012 carried a report of a former governor of Delta State in Nigeria, one James Ibori, who pleaded guilty at a trial in the United Kingdom to a 10-count charge of laundering $250 million and conspiracy to fraud. The report concluded: “Vast sums of money involved were used to fund Ibori’s lavish lifestyle.” An interesting aspect of the Ibori story is that no law court found him guilty in Nigeria. He was sentenced to thirteen years in jail on April 16, 2012.  Another report by the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper of Friday, March 16, 2012 alleged a N44 million bribery charge against the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Other Institutions by the embattled Director- General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, who accused the Committee Chairman, Honourable Herman Hembe of demanding about N44 million from the commission. Ikechukwu Nnochiri in Vanguard Newspaper of March 21, 2012 writes on some of these high profile cases of corruption. These few instances amidst the so many crude and blatant corrupt practices that characterise the art of governance in Nigeria have brought the nation to its knees, and Nigerians are now watching to see how the intellectual sophistry, that has tainted the Nigerian Judiciary, like what was obtained in Isaiah’s day (1:23), and dashed the hopes of the helpless for justice, will play out this time. The next section explores the causes of corruption and its style of perpetuation, which holds the greater majority of Nigerians in want and squalor.

The Roots and Style of Perpetuating Corruption that Provokes Violence in Nigeria

Over the years, several reasons have been postulated for the high level of corruption which has rendered most Nigerians very poor. To repeat Yusufu Bala Usman’s description: the basic economic and social relations at the foundation of the system of the imperialist domination of Africa are at the heart of this situation in Nigeria as elsewhere in Africa. He said:

Within Nigeria, millions of Nigerians are increasingly realising that the present economic and social system in this country has nothing at all for them and their families, except landlessness, indebtedness, unemployment, destitution, disease, illiteracy and chronic and pervasive insecurity. They are understanding more and more clearly how the vast wealth of their country is being transferred  abroad by multinational corporations and banks, who have working for them, in control of the country, a very tiny group of very rich and very unpatriotic Nigerians. (1987:8)

In Nigeria, the basic resources of labour, land, water, fauna and flora are far from being scarce. They are abundant, in an almost absolute sense. What is scarce is the utilisation of these resources, or more accurately the organisation for their proper utilization. This article argues, along with Usman, that colonialism continues to impoverish Nigeria through the instrumentality of an intermediary bourgeois who are Nigerians.  This intermediary bourgeois whether a contractor, a financier, bureaucrat, academic, landlord, owner of assembly plants, or transporter lives by appropriating goods and values for consumption which he plays no role in creating. He is a broker, a middle-man, socially, economically and culturally. He embodies the domination of appropriation over creation; consumption over production. Far from contributing to the creation of material goods, services, or even functioning social and political values and structures, he survives on shortages and blockages in production just as in communication and understanding. He is the quintessential gateman, whose job has been to serve the link between the people and wealth of Nigeria and the world capitalist system. This is the group that found themselves into the leadership of the country since independence, and has continued to revolve leadership among themselves since political leadership has been corrupted and monetized. (Usman, 1997:8) Referring to this crop of our leaders, Godwin Bagu (2011:52) says “The group remains just like its colonial progenitor, an instrument of exploitation and suppression of the popular classes and a tool for primitive accumulation and class consolidation for the hegemonic groups.” This also resonates with Chris Ojukwu and J. O. Shopeju (2010:16) when they say that:

 The new Nigerian elite which took over power from the departing colonial authorities also took over from them the development ethos of the colonial administration. This could be stated as the self- interested exploitation of the people and the country. The self- serving ethos which had been the foundation of the colonial state had been engrained in the mentality of the emerging Nigerian elite. The devastating effect of this formed the basis of development orientation in the post colonial Nigerian state.

Today, millions of Nigerians have become deeply hostile to the multinationals and detest the role of their Nigerian agents, inside and outside the governments. This can be seen in the upsurge of militancy in the Niger Delta region of the country, in protest against ecological degradation of the area in the face of oil exploitation, as well as the resurrection of the Boko Haram sect in the North, which is an expression of dissatisfaction with the state. The youth especially increasingly look forward to a fundamental change in the economic and social system that brings to an end injustices, inequalities, insecurities and indignities daily inflicted on them. This momentous change in the outlook and hopes of millions of Nigerians all over the country is not an accident, an aberration or a bolt from the blue. It arises from concrete unbearable hardship inherent in the Nigerian economy and society and in its wider African and world context. This, in our view has as a direct consequence the increasingly violent and volatile environment in the Nigerian state. Matthew Hassan Kukah (2012:3) argues in the same direction when he says:

My answer is that we have such killings because we live in an environment of a severely weak architecture of state which allows evil to triumph. It is this poverty that produces jealousy and hatred which leads to violence. We live in a state of ineffective law enforcement and tragic social conditions. Corruption has destroyed the fabric of our society. Its corrosive effect can be seen in the ruination of our lives and the decay in our society. The inability of the state to punish criminals as criminals has created the illusion that there is a conflict between Christians and Muslims. In fact, it would seem that many elements today are going to the extremes to pitch Christians against Muslims, and vice versa, so that our attention is taken away from the true source of our woes: corruption.

It is important not to gloss over our position, since with the deepening crises in parts of Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue States, thanks to the international and national media, it has become fanciful to argue that Nigeria is engulfed in a religious crisis between Christians and Muslims. This situation “has fed the propaganda of the notorious Boko Haram and hides the fact that this evil has crossed religious barriers” since it is indeed a fact that millions of our Christians and Muslims do take their religion very seriously. The Vanguard News of March 19, 2012 had a big caption: “Youth ask IBB, Abdulsalam, Atiku, others to apologise,” in which story, both Muslim and Christian Youth who comprise the Arewa Youth Forum, chose to take the bull by the horns:

 We are at the bottom of every index ranging from health, education, social amenities, and several other sectors. Worst of our woes is the insecurity ravaging the North…That all Northern leaders who held several positions, i.e. Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalam Abubakar, and others who have got golden opportunities of turning our region for good but did not should know and accept much of the blame…Northerners and the world need explanation as to what led the North to the rot it is today. It was not magic but man-made as a result of deliberate manipulation of religion, self-enrichment and pervasive corruption our leaders adopted to the detriment of the larger peoples of the North… What we need is practicable good governance on the basis of unity, justice, equity, oneness and togetherness.

It is instructive that this group is very explicit even with the mention of names of Nigeria’s past leaders and clearly called them to question without mincing words. A similar body, The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, in the Vanguard Newspaper of March 25, 2012 echoed the same sentiments about Nigerian leaders:  “It is really unfortunate that people from the North have ruled this country for about 30 years and they did not develop the North. There is a high level of poverty in the North, and now the biggest problem is insecurity. These people had the opportunity to avert this but they did not.”

 This is the class that continues to cover themselves with religious and ethnic disguises in order to further entrench division among the people, slow down their awakening, at any cost, even the unity of Nigeria, for which so much has been sacrificed. Violence in Nigeria for the most part therefore, is traced to domination of political economy by a few rich individuals who have taken over political leadership and all apparatus there-to.

Indeed, the crises of our nation- building, given our history of corruption has been worsened by the correlation between the degree of justice available and the economic resources at one’s disposal, since individuals who have dubiously enriched themselves, have become bigger than the law, dictating policy choices and programs. Political leadership is acquired with money, coercion and manipulation of the judicial process. Justice is commercialised with the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider. Referring to this state of affairs, Douglas Anele in the Vanguard newspaper edition of March 25, 2012 referred  to Nigeria’s legislature as “National Assembly as Corruption incorporated Nig. Plc,” and civilian rule as the Mecca of corruption. Anele cited other examples; Nasir el-Rufai, former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, accused senators of demanding a bribe of N54 million to facilitate his confirmation as minister; The Elumelu committee that investigated the N5 billion electrification scam was fatally compromised and the history of probes in Nigeria reveals that indicted VIPs usually get away with criminality.

 And since the leaders themselves get into leadership through criminal means by a subversive political process, they lack the strength of character to fight corruption definitively. It was against such a background that the prophet Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets spoke against the structures of society in ancient Israel. Peasants and workers in Nigeria avoid contact with the police and the judiciary because they fear harassment, intimidation and swindling that usually follows. On the other hand the bourgeoisie have no such fear and some of them even boast about it. This is clearly one of the fundamental causes of insecurity and crime. There is a kind and degree of wealth which is incompatible with justice, and the nature of incompatibility can be inferred from the standard of living of the masses. When the acquisition and possession of wealth is at the cost of economic freedom and welfare of others it is oppression, which often has a violent consequence. This is particularly the case when such wealth fosters conspicuous consumption at a level of luxury and enjoyed in heedless unconcern for the needs of others, but the dominant motivation of those responsible for social well- being. Such violence, as has been ignited in Nigeria, can only be truly calmed by the emergence of a leadership for whom the social well- being of the people is a higher priority than personal gain.

Way Forward

Taking a cue from Yusufu Bala Usman, this article argues that only an economic and judicial system serving the masses and rooted in their midst can deal with the current cycle of violence in Nigeria, the violence that is a consequence of corruption and oppression. This is congruent with the teaching of the Vatican Council II in Gaudium et spes # 83:

If peace is to be established, the primary requisite is to eradicate the causes of dissension between men. Wars thrive on these, especially on injustice. Many of these causes stem from excessive economic inequalities and from excessive slowness in applying the needed remedies… Man cannot tolerate so many breakdowns in right order. What results is that the world is ceaselessly infected with arguments between men and acts of violence, even when war is not raging.

What we need are changes in the judicial and economic systems that will critically address the current violence in Nigeria. These changes should be approached from a personal, institutional and practical level by all Nigerians, Muslims and Christians.

Judicial Reform: The Judiciary is a crucial social institution, whose functioning determines the quality of life of the citizenry. The Judiciary in Nigeria is to a large extent subject to the whims and caprices of the executive arm of government. This is so because the judiciary is not only financially dependent on the executive but has also been excessively politicized. The upshot of this state of affairs has been the corruption of the judiciary. While judicial corruption relates to unprofessional or infamous conduct by judicial officers, it is also taken to mean attempts by extraneous bodies to undermine the judiciary through inducement, cajoling, intimidation, or some other means. Undoubtedly, a financially dependent judiciary cannot enjoy full autonomy neither can it dispense justice without fear or favour. All over the world the rule of law is inseparable from good governance; it invariably points to a government established by the will of the people, one in which there are laid down procedures for an orderly change of government and legal procedures for the settling of conflicts ( Bagu 2011:58).

 On a personal level, Nigerians must rise to the occasion of voicing out breaches in the judicial process with every resoluteness by taking legal actions against such breaches and as well, reporting and publicizing as widely as possible both in the local and international media. Nigerians should take to non- violent public demonstrations in protest against the abuse of the judicial process and denial of justice. All Nigerians must resolve to name injustice and its perpetrators and must remain relentless in the hope that justice is done. Above all, the process of appointing justices in the Nigerian courts of law should be opened to public participation and scrutiny, so that Nigerians have a say on the moral probity of individuals who sit on the bench.

And in the case of any public outcry against the conduct of a judicial official in the administration of justice, the law should compel the removal of such an official. This will serve to caution judicial officers in the exercise of their duties. When nothing happens to an officer no matter the level of abuse of office, and complete disregard for justice, it only encourages rot in the judiciary.

 At the institutional level, government should ensure the independence of the judiciary so that all Nigerians are equal before the law. This can only be attained when the law is able to punish criminals as criminals, no matter how highly placed. Where government is not committed to enforcing the law but only selectively administers justice, this defeats the very purpose of law and governance. It is the duty of government to open ways for victims of corruption and oppression to voice out, and be listened to accordingly. The law should be subject to interpretation and correction by the worth of persons and moral values such that the treatment of the least favoured in society becomes the fundamental criterion of the achievement of justice. It is crucial for the government to earn the trust of the people in this regard. At the practical level, religious bodies, both Muslim and Christians should be in the lead in pursuing the cause of justice for the masses by encouraging demonstrations and public protest marches as legitimate ways of calling attention to corruption and social ills. The Justice Peace and Development Commissions of Dioceses in Nigeria, and corresponding bodies of other Christian denominations, and the Muslim Umah should educate people to fight for their rights. These bodies should take up civil cases on behalf of the poor, especially in oppressive situations when the poor cannot seek redress in the law courts because justice is out of their reach. It is not enough for religious bodies to preach justice, but they should take action in defence of those on the margins of society. Religious leaders, by keeping silent in the face of gross abuse of judicial process, appear to be accomplices with those in power.

Economic Reform: Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, must stand together to ensure that resources are well utilized for the common good. All citizens should share in the control of the nation’s basic economic goods which is the instrument of status, access to rights, and freedom. At the personal level, everyone should strive to put to meaningful use God- given potential for meaningful livelihood, growth and progress. Besides, “The time has come in Nigeria for individuals or groups who loot government resources and live well beyond their means of livelihood to be blacklisted by the associations and communities they reside in.” (Iber 2011: 77)  Institutionally, government should as a matter of urgency, ensure the recovery of looted wealth of the nation from foreign accounts and investments of her elite abroad. Pope Paul VI lamented about this major vice as though talking about Nigeria:

It is unacceptable that citizens with abundant income from the resources and activity of their country should transfer a considerable part of this income abroad purely for their own advantage, without care for the manifest wrong they inflict on their country by doing this. (David O’ Brien & Thomas A. Shannon eds. 1997:245)

Government agencies charged with fighting corruption should be composed of people of proven integrity and be given credible and independent structures to effectively carry out their work. The current practice where probe panels do not aim at recovering our stolen wealth, but are a means for such agencies and legislators to gratify their needs, explains why no report of any probe panel ever sees the light of day. The government has a duty of compelling institutions like Commercial Banks, Petroleum companies, Cement factories to meet their social obligations in their host communities by way of social amenities and employment opportunities so that these corporations and the host communities have a productive engagement by way of shared profits and burdens. In this, the environment is created for private initiative and intermediary bodies to work and build the common good, and government supplements it through its programs. In other words, the administration of order protects and supports the distribution of the country’s resources against economic and political processes that erode it. At the practical level, religious bodies should be involved in setting up micro- finance institutions, whose operations manifestly are different from what obtains in government controlled institutions. In this way, the government will be compelled to check its abuse.

 

Conclusion

This article argues in line with Kukah (2012:3) that unlike the media coloration of violence in Nigeria as a religious crisis, Christians and Muslims together in solidarity are protesting against bad governance and corruption beyond the understanding of religion. While not dismissing completely the possibility of other contributory factors, it is more plausible to believe that once freed from the grip of these dark forces of corruption and oppression, religion will be able to play its role as a force for harmony, truth and the common good. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had composed two sets of prayers during the worst days of General Sani Abacha’s dictatorship in Nigeria: Prayer Against Bribery and Corruption, and Prayer for Nigeria in distress. All Christians and Muslims should intensify prayer to God in the belief that God will do all things. Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, should stand together to ensure that resources are well utilized for the common good. In this effort, religious leaders across the faiths have the duty of offering leadership that focuses on common humanity and common good since those involved in corruption are from both faiths.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the President, religious, traditional rulers and the people of the Republic of Benin in the Presidential Palace on November 19, 2011 said:

Do not cut off your peoples from their future by mutilating their present… There are too many scandals and injustices, too much corruption and greed, too many errors and lies, too much violence. All peoples desire to understand the political and economic choices which are made in their name; they wish to participate in good governance. No economic regime is ideal and no economic choice in neutral. But these must always serve the common good.

While Nigeria, like many nation states in Africa, has the potential of growing into a wealthy and prosperous modern nation state, there is an urgent need to create a just and virile economy, where the nation’s wealth will transform the lives of the masses and access to good living will no longer be the reserve of a rich few. In this, the call of Isaiah 1:21-28 is to be seen in its larger context as a frantic call for the establishment of justice as an indispensable tool for the attainment of peace, prosperity and security of lives in Nigeria. Saint Augustine, a millennium and a half ago said “Hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to work to make things other than they are.” (Robert M. Brown 1987: xxii).  Nigerians need to enlist hope’s daughters in the current struggle, as sources of power, being assured that when anger and courage are present the final word is not despair, not quiescence, but hope.“Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16- 17)

References

Achebe C. (1983) The Trouble with Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publishing Company Ltd.

Arrupe P. (1972) Witnessing to Justice, Vatican City: Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace.

Bagu G. A. (2011) “Political Corruption and the Problem of Democratic Development” in Aquinas Journal Vol. 4, June.

Buam G. & R. Ellsberg, (eds.) (1989) The Logic of Solidarity: Commentaries on Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical On Social Concern Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

Brown R. M. (1987) Religion and Violence Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Brueggemann W. (1998) Isaiah 1-39 Louisville: John Knox Press.

Cahill L. S. (994) Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism and Just War Theory Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Doorly W.J. (1992) Isaiah of Jerusalem: An Introduction Mahwah: Paulist Press.

Donahue J. R. (1977) “Biblical Perspectives on Justice,” in John C. Haughey, (ed.) The Faith that Does Justice: Examining the Christian Sources for Social Change, New York: Paulist Press.

Ehusani G. (1996) A Prophetic Church, Ede, Nigeria: Provincial Pastoral Institute Publications.

Falola T. (1998) Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies, Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press.

Freire P. (1970), Pedagogy of the Oppressed New York: Herder and Herder.

Holland J. (2003) Modern Catholic Social Teaching New York: Paulist Press.

Iber S. T. (2011) The Church and State in Nigeria as partners in Development in Aquinas Journal Vol. 4.

Jensen J. (2006) Ethical Dimensions of the Prophets Collegeville, Liturgical Press.

JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter (1981) Laborem Exercens, September 14, 1981 AAS 73: 577- 647.

_________ (1988) Encyclical Letter, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, December 30, 1987 AAS 80: 513- 86.

__________ (1995) Ecclesia in Africa, Post –Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Nairobi, Kenya: Paulines Publications Africa.

Kukah M. H. (2012) “Be Still and Know that I am God (Ps 46:10)”, an appeal Letter to Nigerians by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Nigeria, January.

Ojukwu C. C.  & J. O. Shopeju (2010) “Elite corruption and the culture of primitive Accumulation in 21st Century Nigeria” in International Journal of Peace and Development Studies Vol. 1 (2).

Usman Y. B. (1987) The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria 1977- 1987. Kaduna, Nigeria: Vanguard.

  • Ø Gabriel WANKAR is of the Jesuit College of Theology, California USA.

REWARDS AND RISKS OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES:

A REVIEW OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BIOPYSCHOSOCIAL VARIABLES, DEPRESSION, AND TREATMENT EFFECTIVENESS

By Arhona A. Egbikuadje

            Increasing and evolving research results demonstrate that alcohol consumption has biological, psychological, and social influence. This paper focuses on the nature of these influences in terms of the benefits and risks of alcohol consumption to the individual. To this aim, the multidimensional biopsychosocial approach is used to explore the benefits and risks of alcohol usage. The self medicating characteristics of alcohol and other physical variables are integrated into each of the biopsychosocial domains to further clarify the complex and dynamic benefits and risks of alcohol consumption. The interaction between the environmental factors such as the social and religious community, the economic conditions of the country, the individual’s educational level, accessibility to beer parlours or bars and the individual’s alcoholic drinking behavior will also be examined. The need to reduce the risks of alcohol consumption is enormous and traditional alcohol treatment is sometimes associated with a negative outcome.

Consequently, this paper also explores other comorbid disorders such as depression that mitigates the treatment outcome and the effectiveness of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA).

Societal values, gains, and alcoholic beverages

            Biologically, moderate drinking of alcohol has been found to be beneficial to the human cardiac system. McCance and colleagues in their book “Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children” states that “consistent epidemiologic studies show that daily light to moderate alcohol intake reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) as compared with those who do not drink alcoholic beverages at all” (2010:59-60).   For these authors, CHD is linked to the level of cholesterol in the body. These cholesterol levels in the body are not only influenced by the quantity of alcoholic beverages ingested but also the frequency of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage. Alcohol consumption has also been linked to low platelet adhesiveness that has been proven to reduce blood clots which cause heart attacks and strokes (Dufour, 1996).  In spite of these health benefits, it is very important for individuals to seek the advice of their physician before self medicating with alcohol. The biological benefit of alcohol consumption varies from one individual to another because the health benefits experienced by one individual might be a health risk for another individual (Dufour, 1996) and the subjectivity of these health benefits versus risk varies with time, health condition, and age.

            Psychologically, alcohol has been found to have some sedating effects and the acute benefits of alcohol include the improvement of an individuals’ mood from feelings of depression or sadness to feelings of happiness and euphoria (Dufour, 1996).

            Socially, alcohol has been found by some individuals to be beneficial in times of festivities and ceremonies because it enhances the celebration spirit, social communication, fraternity, and friendships.  It is therefore not unusual to find alcoholic beverages in social gatherings such as weddings, funeral receptions, birthday parties, naming ceremonies, and anniversaries. The presentation of alcoholic beverages and specific staple meals to friends and visitors has also been viewed as symbols of acceptance and welcome in many societies. Not surprisingly, visitors of individuals and families are sometimes entertained with bottle(s) of beer, hard liquor, or alcoholic wine.  The gathering of males and females in a beer parlour after work to socialize has been found to be growing in the urban societies in sub-Saharan Africa. However, more females than males define themselves as abstainers from alcoholic beverages in sub-Saharan Africa (Obot, 2006).

            There is a growing consumption of alcoholic beverages amongst more male sub-Saharan Africans than females (Acuda et al 2011).  More males reported consuming five or more drinks occasionally in one sitting and fewer males than females in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa indicated that their alcohol consumption habits exceeded the moderate level (Obot, 2011). Moderate level of alcohol consumption is comparable to the society’s approved level of alcohol consumption and that level of alcohol consumption does not lead to drunkenness. Moderate drinking also produces the lowest mortality occurrences (Dufour, 1996). The society’s attempt to define the approved level of alcohol consumption and its relativity to moderate consumption is marked with redundancy because the biological, physical, and psychological composition of the individual consuming the alcohol has not been taken into consideration. Statistically, the frequency of alcohol consumption should be controlled if moderate or excessive drinking is to be accurately defined. The vagueness in the definition of moderate drinkers versus excessive drinkers can lead to confusion in the interpretation of epidemiological studies that investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption and the varied benefits (Dufour, 1996).  Furthermore, although regional data on alcohol consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is not perfect (Acuda, 2011 & Obot, 2011), during times of conflict resolution in the community, more males than females have requested alcoholic beverages because of the ecstatic benefits.

             Additionally, while the obvious social and psychological benefits of drinking alcoholic beverages continue to be focused on the improvement of the celebration spirit and the probably inflated and superficial public and individual joyfulness, the biological benefits of alcoholic beverage consumption is compounded with controversial conclusions. Therefore it is the responsibility of each individual in the society to be assertive as they consume any type of alcoholic beverage. A major hallmark to measuring accurate benefits of alcohol consumption is knowing precisely the association between the quantity of alcohol consumed and the level of alcohol in the blood stream. Besides, alcohol has not been found to increase the life span of any one individual (Dufour, 1996).

Alcoholic beverages, consequences, and Treatment Effectiveness

            Biological-physical:

            The use of alcoholic beverages to curb symptoms of stress remains a major hypothesis that has been proved using the human anatomy paradigmatic theories. The HPA axis system is produced in the brain’s hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands (Gianoulakis, 1998).  The implication of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hormone (HPA) axis system for alcohol addiction has gained some validity because the HPA axis hormone is defined “to play a central role in the body’s response to stress” (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel, 2007 and ManGold et al., 2000).  Thus, individuals with a high or increased HPA activity system will most times find alcoholic beverages consumption more stimulating than individuals with a slowed or low HPA activity system (Keifer, et al., 2002).

            The inhibitory peptides such as leptin or atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is the hormone known to regulate the renal and cardiovascular homeostasis. Keifer and friends (2002) discusses the significance of ANP in the regulation of endocrine signaling that involves the HPA response to stress. For these researchers, in active and long time alcoholics, there is a significant association between their ANP, relapse, and stress. The HPA activity system also correlates with the endogenous opioid system (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel 2007). The functions of the endogenous opioid system are threefold. First the role of the endogenous opioid system as “protein molecules (i.e., peptides) chemically related to morphine and heroin that are produced primarily in the pituitary gland and brain” has been validated (Gianoulakis, 1998: 203). Second, a major role of the endogenous opioid system includes the provision of relief to physiological conditions such as pain and psychological problems such as stress or emotional turmoil (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel, 2007). Third the endogenous opioid system stimulates and enhances the effects of alcohol when ingested (Gianoulakis, 1998).  Consequently, it is logical to conclude that while individuals at risk of alcoholism exhibit increased endogenous opioid system, alcohol addiction is not linked to individuals with lowered endogenous opioid activities.

            Furthermore, the biological correlation between the endogenous opioid system and the HPA axis system strengthens the hypothesis that alcoholism is associated with negative mood states such as depression and anxiety. Not surprisingly, Julien, Advokat, and Comaty (2011) conjectures that alcohol is used to reduce psychological distress such as depression and the relief that the alcoholic experiences from self medicating with alcohol will more or less increase their ingestion of the alcoholic beverage. Concurrently, the endogenous opioid system and the HPA axis system have been used to formulate a significant hypothesis on the relationship between family history, gender, and alcoholism. Adult male children of alcoholics were found to be at risk of alcoholism more than their female counterparts because of the association between specific psychological symptomatology such as obsessive compulsive disorder and the activities of the endogenous opioid axis system (Mangold et al., 2000).

            Biological variants such as genes studies have been implicated in the etiology of problematic drinking behavior and alcoholism. Alcohol addiction has been found to increase in identical twins and adopted away children because of the “the limited production or the lack of alcohol-producing enzymes, the susceptibility to alcohol tolerance, a reduced amplitude of the P300 wave component of the event-related elements, and the reduced alpha activities on the electrical activity of the brain” (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel 2007: 182).

            The contribution of the Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors has also been used to support an individual’s genetic susceptibility to alcoholism. Alcohol alters the activity of the GABA-mediated inhibitory circuits in the brain because some aspects of the behaviour of the drunk are the result of alcohol-mediated alterations in the ionotropic GABA receptors (Purves et. al., 2012).  The inhibitory function of GABA as a neurotransmitter supports the presumption that there is an association between genes and alcoholism (McCance et al., 2010).  Furthermore, although the suppositions that genes increase an individual’s susceptibility to alcohol, alcoholism or problematic drinking behaviour is strongly influenced by environmental factors (McCance et al. 2010).  Similarly, while the genetic risk for alcohol dependence falls within the range of 50% to 60%, the environmental influences on alcoholism is in the range of 40% to 50% (Hardie et al., 2008).

            The role of heritability in alcohol addiction is emphasized because research studies on monozygotic versus dizygotic twins revealed the association between gender, heritability, and alcoholism (Hardie, Moss, & Lynch 2008).  Gender was found to impact heritability, with more males than female twins exhibiting alcohol use disorders (Hardie, Moss, & Lynch, 2008). Additionally, the prevalence of alcoholism in more males than in females whose biological parents were addicted to alcohol was attributed to the following: (1) their experience of reduced church support and (2) the presence of psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, conduct disorder, childhood sexual abuse, and history of suicide (Knopik et al., 2004).  Incidentally, more Australian non-Catholics than Australian Catholics who admitted to experiencing psychological conditions such as depression reported experiencing social and psychological support from their church leaders and members (Knopik et al., 2004).

            The research on the relationship between genes and alcoholism has remained inconclusive because of the influence of environmental factors such as religion, family of origin, social support, and culture on problematic drinking behaviour. Particularly, there is a greater need therefore for appropriately trained specialists to complete a thorough screening process to determine the cause of the alcohol addiction for the following reasons: First, the presence of organic brain injury and other significant psychopathologies are sometimes not evaluated because of the overwhelming bias and sometimes rushed conclusion that alcoholism is mostly the result of behavioral tribulations. Second, knowing the cause of the maladaptive drinking behaviour increases the chance of healing and long term sobriety.  Third, the need to understand problematic drinking behaviour in terms of its severity is encouraged because the screening process that attempts to distinguish maladaptive drinking behaviour as either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence fosters the development of the appropriate treatment plan.

            Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence -

            Psycho-social /Physical consequences

            Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are the result of a continuous or repeated drinking action or what is commonly referred to as alcoholism. Alcohol abuse differs from alcohol dependence in terms of the degree of the consequences of alcohol intoxication to the individual and the society (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Test Revision, 2000).  Alcohol abuse is defined as a “persistent disorder of brain function in which compulsive drug use occurs despite serious negative consequences for the afflicted individual” (Purves et al., 2012:128).  The alcoholic will continue to abuse alcoholic beverages despite the consequences for his/her social and interpersonal functioning such as neglect of work or family responsibilities, the dangers it poses on themselves and others in the communities, and the impact of repeated intoxication on their relationship with friends (Purves, et al., 2012, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Test Revision, 2000, and Hersen, et al., 2007).  Nonetheless, the individuals who abuse alcohol regularly will most times still be able to function in their jobs or the community.

            On the contrary, alcohol dependence is predicted by the degree of the experience of withdrawal symptoms and the level of tolerance that results from the ingestion of the alcoholic beverage.  The individual who is dependent on alcohol continues to drink excessively despite the cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms that they experience (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Test Revision, 2000).  The definition of the withdrawal symptoms is stipulated by the physiological and psychological experience of abstaining from the alcoholic beverages.  While the physiological symptoms of withdrawal include the experience of hot flashes, tremors, weakness, dizziness, convulsion, dehydration, nausea, insomnia, and tremens (Julien, Advokat, & Comaty, 2011), the psychological withdrawal symptoms include irritability, irrational and sporadic behaviour, isolation, delirium, feelings of sadness, and psychotic behaviour (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Test Revision, 2000;  Julien, Advokat, & Comaty 2011).  Differently, tolerance to alcohol occurs when the individual continues to crave increased quantity of the alcoholic beverage to achieve the desired level of intoxication (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition – Test Revision, 2000). Following the clarifications of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, it is noteworthy that an individual who is dependent on alcoholic beverages experiences more intense and severe physical, social, and psychological symptoms than an individual who only abuses the alcoholic beverage.

            Furthermore the long term adverse effects of alcohol dependence include physiological impairments such as nutritional deficiencies, motor dysfunction, liver cirrhosis, gastrointestinal problems, decrease in bone density and red blood cells production, seizures and psychological consequences such as amnesia, cognitive deficits, depression, and anxiety (Schuckit, 2009).  These physiological and psychological impairments not only increase the social isolation and rash criticism of the alcohol dependent individual, but also increase their morbidity and mortality rate.  Consequently, the contention that alcoholism is a disease has been upheld by some researchers. For example, Morse and Flavin (1992) define alcoholism as:

a primary, chronic, disease with genetic psychosocial and environmental factors                influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive          and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the              drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking,     most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic. (p. 1012).

            Even though the disease concept of alcoholism is upheld, the social consequences of alcoholism such as rash criticism and social isolation are sometimes justified because the alcoholic dependent individuals deny their addiction. The alcoholic individuals who deny their alcohol addiction rationalize and emphasize the positive consequences of their alcohol usage more than the adverse consequences. Denial is the degree of psychological manipulation that decreases the awareness that the alcohol usage is the cause of the problems experienced (Morse and Flavin, 1992).  To add, the long term social consequence of denial for the alcohol dependent individual includes family rejection because the alcoholic refuses treatment. Notwithstanding the fact that stress and negative life’s experiences such as reduced social support also impact on treatment and relapse rate (Taylor, 2003),  the complication of denial to the treatment of medical, psychological, and psychiatric conditions experienced by the alcohol dependent individual (Lawrence, 2007 and Schuckit, 2009) is not disputable.

Alcohol Dependence

Cravings and Relapse -  Biopsychosocial consequences       

            The biological, psychological, and social consequences of alcohol dependence are increased when the craving for alcohol becomes uncontrollable. Likewise, the individual who is dependent on the alcoholic beverage experiences craving, which is not only a notable risk of alcoholism, but “a complex set of cognition and behaviours that has been recognized as a central component of alcohol dependence” (Boykoff et al., 2010:352).  Although the reasons for the experience of cravings are multifold and sometimes controversial, the control of cravings continues to remain crucial to preventing relapse for the alcohol dependent individual. To add, craving is not only predicted by relapse rate, but also gender and human brain functioning.

            Biologically and psychologically, an individual’s craving incidence is predicted by their motivation to change, which is further controlled by the activity of the prefrontal and cingulate cortex of their brain (Chakravorty et al., 2010). The functions of the prefrontal and cingulate cortex in humans are implicated in the alcoholic’s ability to engage in both positive reasoning and informed decision (Chakravorty et al., 2010).  Thus, just as positive reasoning and informed decision is significant to the alcoholic’s individual motivation to resist the cravings for the alcoholic beverage, so also is the control of cravings necessary for the prevention of relapse.

            Even though relapse occurs when an individual who has stopped drinking returns to drinking alcohol, there are discrepancies between male and female alcoholics who relapse.  More females than male alcohol dependent individuals reported increased cravings for alcohol after periods of abstinence (Boykoff et al., 2010) and the major factor for this difference is the degree of the experience of more mood instability symptoms and depression (Agosti & Levin, 2006 and Goodwill, 1997). Consequently, irrespective of the gender differences noted in the craving behaviour, it suffices then to state that while cravings for the alcoholic beverage continue to remain the non-static mirror and guide for measuring the alcoholics’ willingness to prevent relapse, another psychological consequence of alcohol craving is depression. Besides, since the biopsychosocial consequences of cravings and relapse are intertwined in the sense that abstinence from the alcoholic beverage provides the alcoholic with not only unpleasant and disgusted feelings, the social consequences of isolation and rejection of the alcoholic due to cravings and relapse by family, friends, and community members remain sometimes unavoidable, but predictable.

Depression – A psychological consequence   

            The view that the initial consumption of alcohol is for recreational, entertainment,  or social purposes has continued to be faced with disparagement because research data show that about 30 to 50 percent of individuals with primary alcoholism are depressed ((Agosti & Levin, 2006 and Goodwill & Gabrielli, 1997). Thus, the initial reinforcing effects of alcohol or ethanol including the temporary relief from extreme anxiousness, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, feelings of poor concept of self, and worthlessness has gained more acceptance. Notwithstanding the different contentions regarding the initial rewards of alcohol consumption, the use of alcohol is also an attempt to self medication to prevent or reduce the unpleasant and disgusting feelings experienced during withdrawal. Therefore, the depression experienced by alcoholics is viewed as primary alcoholism because of the association between alcoholism and psychopathologies like depression and other mood disturbances (Goodwill & Gabrielli, 1997).

            Irrespective of the different reasons that the alcoholic provides as motives for drinking, studies have shown that individuals who began drinking alcohol from a very early age use alcohol for stress relief purposes and these individuals have a greater tendency to become problematic drinkers in their adult years if they do not seek professional help for the stress that they experience (Fergusson et al., 2000).  Similarly, even though depression is hypothesized as a major occurrence amongst alcoholics, it is difficult to ascertain. For example, while depression is reported to complicate the clinical picture of the alcoholic seeking treatment because alcoholism and depression co-occur (Brown and Ramsey, 2000), mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety have been identified as long term consequences of alcohol use (Clark et al., 2007).  To add, in spite of the controversial arguments regarding the onset of depression, many researchers agree that significant treatment for alcoholics includes a multidimensional approach (Agosti & Levin, 2006; Carroll et al., 2001; Fergusson, et al., 2000 and Litten & Allen, 1995). These multidimensional approaches dictate the treatment planning and they are more effective when remediation for symptoms like depression is addressed. (Litten & Allen, 1995).

Treatment strategies -

Biopsychosocial approach

            The biopsychosocial model to understanding the treatment of alcoholic individuals does not only involve the review of treatment effectiveness within the framework of biological, psychological, and social factors but also it allows for a more comprehensive outlook on treatment strategies within the realms of spirituality, religious beliefs, and clergy services.

            Biologically, the initial goal of physicians is to assist the individual seeking treatment with withdrawal symptoms including but not limited to seizures, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, hot flashes, and sleep difficulties. The secondary goal of addressing the biological consequences of alcohol addiction includes addressing physical problems such as liver cirrhosis, nutritional deficiencies, and decreased bone density and red blood cells. The physician will usually order a complete blood panel. However, liver function tests and biopsy are necessary for effective diagnosis of liver cirrhosis (McCance et al., 2010).  Overall, the goal of physician’s intervention is not restricted to ordering tests or treating co-occurring diseases, but also to improve the insight of the alcoholic seeking treatment during the feedback process. The feedback process is scheduled to allow the physician(s) discuss the laboratory results with the alcoholic and also for the alcoholic to have opportunities to ask questions of the expert.

            Psychologically and psychiatrically, the need to curb symptoms such as depression, anxiety, delirium, cognitive deficits, irritability, and irrational behavior cannot be overemphasized. The intervention from psychologists and psychiatrists is made possible due to the clear understanding that alcoholism as a disorder meets criteria for dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis implies that alcoholism coexists with another mental disorder. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and psychotropic medications (psychiatric medications) are the recommended treatment for dual diagnosis (Agosti & Leven, 2006; Brown & Ramsey, 2000; Weingold et al., 1998; and Litten & Allen, 1995). To add, the use of psychotropic medications during the detoxification process is to alleviate the unpleasant feelings during the withdrawal process.

            Furthermore, in lieu of the progressive neurobiological problems in terms of the distorted facial and emotional stimuli expressions experienced by long term alcohol users, Clark and friends (2007) advised that the methods of improving mood problems and neurological symptoms be included as part of the systematic treatment remedies. Incidentally, the effectiveness of any treatment is dependent on the alcoholic’s willingness to participate and adhere to the different treatment regimens. The motivation to change is that “state of readiness or eagerness to change, which may fluctuate from one time or situation to another. This state is one that can be influenced.” (Rollnick, 1991:14). Hence, knowing that motivation is not a static phenomenon, and that it can be influenced by treating clinicians or personnel, the need to increase motivation among individuals seeking help cannot be ignored because the initial reason for seeking treatment is usually the result of coercion from family members or friends (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel, 2007).  Thus, the integration of motivational interviewing as a recommended treatment strategy for dual diagnosis is recommended (Carroll et al., 2001).

            The major precept of motivational interviewing technique is allowing the clinician to obtain a thorough history of the alcohol use behavior and any comorbid mental health disorder without reducing the self concept or diminishing the alcoholic’s effort to maintain sobriety (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel, 2007 and Carroll et al., 2001).  Motivational interviewing technique also involves a thorough examination of the social environment of the individual with alcohol dependency. It is noted that individuals from higher or somewhat moderate socio-economic background with intact family and job seem to do better in improving their drinking problems than individuals from low or poor socio-economic background with no financial or intact family support (Taylor, 2003).

            Socially, the avoidance of people and places such as beer parlours cannot be overemphasized. An alcoholic whose social life involves sitting in a beer parlour with friends will not show improvement of symptoms despite the need for sobriety. In view of the fact that behaviour is influenced by the social environment, attitudes remain a social variable to be addressed by the clinician during treatment and what is noteworthy is that culture’s impact on attitude varies considerably. Attitudes have been defined as psychological states that predispose a person to behave in a certain way (Harris & Moran, 1999). Besides, attitude towards treatment continues to predict the effectiveness of therapy and medications.

Treatment effectiveness -spirituality,

religious practices, and clergy services

            Spirituality as the subjective experience of God (Galanter, 2006) has been connected with alcoholic treatment and alcoholic anonymous for many years (Galanter, 2006; Sterling et al., 2007; and Piderman et al., 2007).  Spirituality has also been hypothesized to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disturbances (Galanter, 2006).  Thus, the effectiveness of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) is most times based on its spiritual foundation. This is because  “spirituality offers people a way to avoid uncertainty and some physiological findings can shed light on the way this takes place, lending heuristic value to its study” (Galanter, 2006: 287).  In addition, the movement through the twelve steps program by alcoholics in the AA program is a spiritual journey that emphasizes the belief that a higher power can help the alcoholic achieve and maintain sobriety over a long period of time (Sterling et al., 2007).  To a greater extent, the underlying spiritual teachings of the twelve step program focuses on the significance of a higher power in times of distress and discouragement. Therefore, it is expected that an increased spirituality will boost the self concept and the self confidence of the individual seeking healing. Although the belief in the higher power is linked to the painful experience of emptiness of the alcoholic in need of healing and the effectiveness of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) in improving the sense of purpose of the alcoholic, the effectiveness of spiritual practices has also been linked to specific brain sites. The results of studies have shown significant correlation between the 5-HT receptor density in the forebrain and the trait of spiritual acceptance (Galanter, 2006). Likewise, the stimulation of the right angular gyrus of epileptics which resulted in the somatosensory experiences comparable to spiritual ecstasy is likened to the experience of the alcoholic who seeks sobriety through spiritual practices (Galanter, 2006).

            Furthermore, religious beliefs and practices have influenced long term sobriety for the alcoholic because some religious practices promote abstinence and healing through their teachings. For example religious teachings on forgiveness and acceptance of individuals with significant moral, physiological, and psychological conditions have been particularly helpful in terms of the support experienced by the alcoholic. Equally, just as studies have shown a positive correlation between the frequency of private religious practices and good recovery outcomes, spirituality as well as private religious practices have been found to help the alcoholic’s length of abstinence and self concept (Piderman et al., 2007).  The significance of private religious practices such as reflections and meditations has also been hypothesized to increase treatment effectiveness because the alcoholic who completes a positive overhaul of their lives including reevaluating their identity, choices, and lifestyles experiences a greater sense of security and self concept (Suire & Bothwell, 2006).

            On the contrary, it is important to note that religious practices might be detrimental to the recovery of the alcoholic because those who identified “themselves as more spiritual saw God as loving and forgiving, while those who assessed themselves as more religious saw God as more judgmental” ( Galanter, 2007: 286). Moreover, fear has been identified as a mitigating factor to positive religious practices because it increases relapse and cravings. It is not surprising that the multi-modal eclectic approach has been suggested as the best approach to treatment because with the multi-modal eclectic approach, all aspects of the alcoholic life including the physical, psychological, mental, and the spiritual are addressed (Galanter, 2006).  Nonetheless, the efficacy of spirituality and religious beliefs in the multi-modal eclectic model is strengthened when clergy services are integrated.

            The use of clergy services in assisting the individual with maladaptive problematic drinking behaviour achieve physical, psychological, mental and spiritual stability has been promoted in recent years. Bohnert et al (2010) found out that individuals with the diagnosis of alcohol dependence, and who also suffer from comorbid serious mental health disorders such as major depression, were more likely to consult with their clergy than individuals who are diagnosed with alcohol abuse. According to these authors, clergy services and churches were found to be valuable social support for the alcoholic individual suffering from significant depression. While the participants of the research conducted by Bohnert and friends found the clergy to be the “most visible and trusted support within churches” (p. 345), the researchers suggest that the clergy should be provided with appropriate educational tools and opportunities to improve their understanding of the clinical manifestations of alcohol disorders.

            Taken together, the biopsychosocial benefits of alcohol consumption lie in its recognition as self prescribed medications used to elevate negative emotions. Unfortunately, the solace that alcohol provides for the alcohol dependent individual is not only short lived, but is devastating to the human anatomical system. Studies have shown that alcoholism co-exists with other mental disorders like depression and it can also cause different physiological and social problems. Thus, for the alcoholic to confront these physiological, psychological, and social problems, professional help must be employed. Furthermore, Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) fellowship, clergy services, spiritual support, and group support have continued to remain the social environment where the alcoholic feels heard and understood. The strength of AA fellowships seems to come from the positive-welcoming group fellowship and teachings that promote not only spiritual growth and personal relationship with God, but the development of positive strengths that help the alcoholic combat alcoholism and other related stressors. Nonetheless, the alcoholic must come to the understanding that with addiction, healing is a daily process and the helplessness that the alcoholic experiences must be surrendered to a higher power to obtain a ‘within’ strength that is associated with will power.

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  • Ø Arhona Angela EGBIKUADJE is with the Organisational Consulting Services, Bakersfield, California, USA.

Editorial

This edition of the MEd journal comes after a humongous struggle soliciting for contributions and assessing the impact this enterprise has so far created among our people. Typical of any enterprising initiative, the beginnings are full of bumps and winding tracks, yet our anger and courage have led to the publication of a fresh edition; and for us an overwhelming denouement, this one no exception! The articles in this edition span from Church to politics, from social to academic, offering debates that will be appropriate in the classroom and the church, in the office and in the market square for a better and more human society.

Our goal is that of educating the populace, despite the disturbing events of unrelenting assaults on innocent people by elements of the Boko Haram sect and the exploitation of an entire society by the dominant political class that can hardly be differentiated from Boko Haram. These two elements, in our opinion form the fulcrum of our instability and underdevelopment. One way to do away with this rot is to become an enlightened public.

The response therefore is a systematic and conscious education of the people, because the capitalist system that guarantees the protection of corrupt leaders of a society operates through the subjugation of the opposition and alienation of the citizens. The simplest method to achieve this is to deny them quality education. Aondover M. Iorapuu in his article on media ideology challenges the media in Nigeria to become significant in the struggle of the ordinary people to produce meaning in their lives. Instead of acting as an instrument of power for the dominant class, the media can play a role in opening up equal opportunities for education, facilitating effective processes of democratic decision-making and respect for the dignity of human beings and becoming an access for the ordinary people to initiate structural and institutional social changes that have been dominated by the elite.

Clement Iorliam argues that good education is a fundamental issue of social justice as a right of all citizens that enables them to become conscious and important constructs in the affairs of their society and no one should be denied a good education. He underscores the advantages especially that of empowering the citizens to undo the yoke of oppression by fighting for their rights. Gabriel Wankar’s critical examination of the problem of endemic corruption and bad governance as they impact on the social life of the Nigerian society also advocates for quality education in consciousness awakening. He suggests an overhaul of the system through conscious responsibility as citizens, both on the part of the rulers and the ruled: because the anger expressed by the masses can only be assuaged by the courage for good governance.

 The Holy Father Benedict XVI besides declaring the year of justice and peace, says in his Africae Munus: “The three principal elements of the theme chosen for the Synod, namely reconciliation, justice, and peace, brought it face to face with its ‘theological and social responsibility’, and made it possible also to reflect on the Church’s public role and her place in Africa today. One might say that reconciliation and justice are the two essential premises of peace and that, therefore, to a certain extent, they also define its nature. The task we have set for ourselves is not an easy one, situated as it is somewhere between immediate engagement in politics – which lies outside the Church’s direct competence – and the potential for withdrawal or evasion present in a theological and spiritual speculation which could serve as an escape from concrete historical responsibility” (BENEDICT XVI, Africae Munus, 2011:17). Jooji Innocent takes on the question of justice and peace and the pivotal role the Church in Nigeria continues to play to guarantee peace, reconciliation and security.

Among many African cultures especially the Tiv, barrenness and infertility are very serious social and traditional issues, but the individual woman was never left alone. Children have never been a gift for a single family but the community, and those who had more shared with those who did not have and this was the practice that consoled the woman or family without a child. Today with the influence of western individualism that sense of solidarity and communalism is lost and so the need to examine the solutions offered by modern society crises. According to John Finnis “The nuclear family is a community. Though founded and sustained by the voluntary choice and commitment of the spouses, it is not a mere voluntary association. It involves its members in responsibilities which go beyond anything they envisaged and as such consented to on becoming a member. The marriage partners’ commitment is for better for worse, for richer for poorer; it thus involves radical submission by the couple to the contingencies, however unforeseen, of so unreserved a mutual commitment. The gift and responsibility of children is one of the most important of those contingencies, for parents cannot rightly determine the character of their children or reject children whom they dislike” (Human Rights and Common Good, collected essays: vol.III, C.S. Lewis and test-tube babies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011:277).

 And the same commitment applies to those who naturally cannot have children. Ude Asue writes on the ethical implication of reproductive technologies, opening the door for Nigerians to begin to pay attention to bioethical issues hitherto taken for granted, even though we are not prepared to hack them. This includes In vitro Fertilization (IVF), Embryo Transfer (ET), Gamete intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT), Artificial Insemination Donor (AID), and other methods. He examines the pastoral and cultural issues they pose and reflects on the diverse dimensions they have on the value and dignity of life.

The female gender remain at the receiving end of social inequities in Nigeria, Sugh Terngu discusses passionately the nightmare of maternal mortality especially in rural Nigeria and its implications for development, including rapid decline in agricultural productivity, in healthy socialisation and general backwardness of the rural society.  She enumerates disturbing cultural beliefs and practices such as food taboos, male domination, female genital mutilation and other domestic violence against women besides the non existing infrastructure, all responsible for maternal mortality and ineffective child-care. As we approach the finishing line of the MDGs, Nigeria needs a miracle to turn things around, and this must be improved quality of education and the full participation of women in decision-making at all levels, if we are to attain the MDGs. Mnena Abuku underscores the importance of theatre in information dissemination and communication in tackling the question of girl-child education for the development of the society and the recognition of the dignity of women. Her work unveils the locus of violence against women in our society and demonstrates how poverty, gender inequalities and low level of education are contributory factors to underdevelopment and the spread of deadly diseases.

Arhona Egbikuadje discusses in depth another social issue that is destroying our society: alcohol. Many families are broken up and women and children are victims of alcoholics but endure silently in the name of family honour. The institutions of governance have several alcoholics who refuse to admit their status and the bad decisions taken by these people fall on the society. Alcohol consumption is said to have biological, psychological and social influence, Arhona used the approach created from these three factors: bio-psycho-social to explore the benefits and risks of alcohol consumption. This work, Rewards and risks of alcoholic beverages: a review of the relationship between the biopsychosocial variables, depression and treatment effectiveness offers recommendations from a consultant that can save you life and money.

Aondover M. IORAPUU, Editor.

Editorial Board PAGE

 

Editor

 Don Moses A. IORAPUU, Rome

 

Editorial Consultant

 Sr. Nuala O’Donnell, MSHR, Ireland

Secretary/Computer Analyst

Stephen SaAondo, Fidei Polytechnic, Gboko, Nigeria

Aiyesufu Catherine, Nigeria

International editors:

Ude Asue, USA

Tatah Mbuyi, Italy

C.M. Paul, India

Gberikon Gabriel, Nigeria

Gabriel Wankar, USA

Director of Communications

Celestine Aayongo, Nigeria.

Founding Editor

Aondover M.IORAPUU

Via Monte Altissimo 23, 00141, Roma.

Averiba66@yahoo.com

 

In collaboration with

Catholic Media professionals of Nigeria, Makurdi.


 

Editor’s Note

Views and opinions expressed in the MEd are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Publishers and the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi. Articles with unreliable sources such as lecture notes and dailies will no longer be favourable to our taste.

Back page

Articles in the previous edition

Tiv women in the concept of Gba-Aondo and its consequences on sustainable rural development: achieving the MDGs in Nigeria.

Aondover M.  IORAPUU

GENDER EQUALITY AND EQUITY: THE HEART BEAT OF DECENT WORK.

Gowon Ama DOKI & Naomi Onyeje DOKI

 

CWO AS A WOMEN  Empowerment TOOL IN NIGERIA

Daniel Ude Asue

PROFESSIONALISM IN PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Keghku Tyotom

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF NIGERIA

Innocent Jooji

TRUTH, PROCLAMATION AND AUTHENTICITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

The Holy Father’s Message for the forty-fifth World Day of Social Communications, celebrated on 5 June 2011

 

Manuscript Submission Guidelines

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