President Buhari To Launch ERGP 2017-2020

Buhari Extends Return To NigeriaNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, will formally launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 on Wednesday, April 5.

A statement issued on Tuesday by the President’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, revealed that the ceremony will take place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

The statement explained that the launch is “in furtherance of the current administration’s drive to sustain and build on the successes so far recorded in tackling corruption, improving security and revamping the economy.

“The Medium-Term ERGP, which had been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), has amongst its broad strategic objectives: restoring sustainable, accelerated inclusive growth and development; investing in the people; and building a globally competitive economy”.

The ERGP, which unveils a road map for Nigeria’s economic recovery, growth and sustainable development, was made public on March 7, while President Buhari was on his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

The Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James, had said the ceremonial presentation will take place when the President returns from his vacation.

FG Releases Economic Recovery Plan

FG Releases Economic Recovery Plan (ERGP)The Federal Government has released the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which unveils a road map for Nigeria’s economic recovery, growth and sustainable development.

This was according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James.

According to the statement, the development of the plan went through a rigorous process including wide consultation and robust engagements with stakeholders from a range of relevant fields.

They include: economic experts from the public and private sectors, academia, the Organised Private Sector, Civil Society groups, Organised Labour, sub-regional governments, International Development Partners (including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank), the National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Assembly.

The statement hinted that the Plan has been approved by the Federal Executive Council, adding that its ceremonial presentation would take place when President Muhammadu Buhari returns from vacation.

Achieving Structural Economic Change

The statement read: “The core vision of the Plan is one of sustained inclusive growth. There is an urgent need as a nation to drive structural economic transformation with an emphasis on improving both public and private sector efficiency.

“The aim is to increase national productivity and achieve sustainable diversification of production, to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens, beginning with food and energy security.

“The Plan envisages that by 2020, Nigeria would have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. Overall, the Plan is expected to deliver on Five key broad outcomes namely: a stable macroeconomic environment, agricultural transformation and food security, sufficiency in energy (power and petroleum products), improved transportation infrastructure and industrialisation focusing on small and medium scale enterprises.

“Realising that the country’s economy would remain on a path of decline if nothing was immediately done to change the trajectory, the present administration, when it assumed office, embarked on strategic moves to halt the trend and redirect the course of the country’s economy and growth process.

A Knowledge-Based Economy

“The process started with the development of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 2016 Budget of Change as a short-term intervention. The ERGP, a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, builds on the SIP and has been developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people.

“The Plan seeks to eliminate the bottlenecks that impede innovations and market based solutions, recognises the need to leverage Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to build a knowledge-based economy, and is consistent with the aspirations of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The ERGP differs in several ways from previous strategies and plans as it:

  • is anchored on focused implementation which is at the core of the delivery strategy over the next four years;
  • outlines bold initiatives such as ramping up oil production to 2.5mbpd by 2020, privatising selected public enterprises/assets, and revamping local refineries to reduce petroleum product imports by 60 percent by 2018;
  • builds on existing sectoral plans such as the National Industrial Revolution Plan and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master-plan;
  • signals a changing relationship between the public and private sector based on close partnership.
  • utilises the value of the merger of budget and planning functions into one Ministry to create a better and stronger link between annual budgets and the ERGP; and
  • provides for strong coordination with the States to ensure that the Federal and sub-regional governments work towards the same goals.

Vision Of Inclusive Growth

“The thinking behind the development of the Plan was driven by several fundamental principles, including a focus on tackling constraints to growth; leveraging the power of the private sector and promoting national cohesion and social inclusion, as well as allowing markets to function.

“The Plan has three broad strategic objectives which are expected to help achieve the vision of inclusive growth: restoring growth, investing in the people, and building a globally competitive economy.

“The ERGP focuses on achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification by undertaking fiscal stimulus, ensuring monetary stability and improving the external balance of trade.

“The delivery mechanism has been identified as a major determining factor in the successful implementation of the Plan. The implementation strategy therefore focuses on prioritising the identified strategies, establishing a clear system of accountability for well-defined assignment of responsibilities, setting targets and developing detailed action plans, allocating resources to prioritised interventions, creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment, developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system to track progress, and using effective communication strategies”.

Let’s Redouble Efforts To Empower Youths -Saraki

youth empowerment, SarakiPresident of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has said that “government, the private sector and academia must redouble its effort to empower Nigerian youths for entrepreneurship and greater self-reliance.”

He was speaking in his National Assembly office about the upcoming technology and skills building training programme that will be launched in Kwara State on Saturday, November 12.

The Senate President said one of the greatest challenges the country has to grapple with, is the need to gainfully engage the country’s bulging youth population.

“According to the latest estimate from the National Population Commission, Nigeria’s population is now approximately 182 million people. More than half of the population is under 30 and another 40 percent of that are under the age of 14,” Saraki said.

He added that “national leaders like me have the responsibility to take heed to these numbers and develop future oriented technology, training and employment schemes to integrate the younger population into our new economy. We must make these young men and women entrepreneurs who can also be employers of labour instead of looking for non-existing jobs”.

Under the Skills Acquisition, Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP), 40,000 youths are expected to be trained over four years with advanced skills and technology training in areas such as computer engineering, software development, animation, cinematography, event management and many other areas where the participants can grow to be self-employed.

The goal of STEP according to Saraki, is to make participants globally competitive in the sectors for which they will be trained.

He believes such preparation is important for future employment, starting businesses, creating jobs and putting able bodied and motivated youths to work.

“I thought long and hard about how our society can bring youths off the margins of society for entrepreneurship or gainful employment.

“With the help of consultants and other experts, we were able to craft a programme whereby participants will be trained by Nigeria’s best and most successful business leaders, technology entrepreneurs and other industry practitioners.”

Saraki also noted that the future of Nigeria’s economic security rests with how we prepare today’s youth.

He said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts Nigeria’s economy will contract by 1.7 percent in 2017.

“We must ask ourselves, are we to plant the seeds for a prosperous and abundant Nigeria? Or do we ignore the danger signs about the current youth bulge?” the Senate President stated.

“I for one, believe it is a national imperative for us to promote the development and education of our young people today, so they may benefit from tomorrow’s global economy”.

Also in a meeting on held in Abia state on Friday, the Senate President encouraged the purchase of made in Nigeria goods.

bukola-saraki-displays-made-in-nigeria-bag
Bukola Saraki displays made in Nigeria bag

While visiting some members of the Leather and Allied Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State, he decried huge revenue of the nation that goes into buying foreign goods.

He therefore warned that any Ministry, Department or Agencies (MDAs) of the government which violates the Public Procurement Law will be dealt with.

The law has been put in place to compel the MDAs to give preference to locally produced goods in Nigeria.

Lecture On ‘Mass Media: Setting The Nigerian Agenda’ By John Momoh

THE MASS MEDIA: SETTING THE NIGERIAN AGENDA

PAPER PRESENTED BY

MR. JOHN MOMOH (OON)
CHAIRMAN, CHANNELS TELEVISION
AT THE FIRST LECTURE SERIES OF UNILAG
MASS COMMUNICATION ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

I am very pleased to be here today at the invitation of the UNILAG Mass Communication Alumni Association, to speak on a very vexed topic; The Mass Media:  Setting The Nigerian Agenda.  I’d like to thank the Alumni Association, and in particular its President, High Chief Lawson Omokhodion, for considering me worthy to deliver this lecture.

As one who is privileged to have passed through this great department, even more so this great institution, I consider it a rare privilege and particularly delighted to be the first to speak at this series, on a subject which has become my pre-occupation at least career wise.

Theoretical Grounding

Theoretically, the agenda setting theory of the media as put forward by Maxwell McCombs and Donaki Shaw (1972) during their very influential research on the role of the media in the  1968 US Presidential elections, observe that:

In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality.  Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position […] the mass media may well determine the important issues – that is, the media may set the “agenda” of the campaign.

Overtime, the Agenda Setting Theory research has demonstrated that the more stories the news media do on a particular subject, the more importance audience attach to that subject.  In relation to AST, Stanley Baran holds that the “media may not tell us what to think, but media certainly tell us what to think about” (2002).  He further argues that the agenda setting power of the media resides in more than the amount of space or time devoted to a story and its placement in the broadcast or on the page.

It’s now more than four decades since the publication of the original agenda-setting article by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw; 43 years to be precise.  It is truly inspiring to take a step back and ponder at what that simple little study comparing a few media … agendas with the … agendas of 100 undecided Chapel Hill voters has led to.

The latest estimate is that there around 500 published articles on agenda setting, not to mention hundreds of conference papers and numerous books and book chapters.  In addition, the domain or focus of agenda-setting research has moved beyond politics and public affairs to the world of business, sports, the economy, education, health and entertainment; and the methods used in such studies have gone far beyond the simple rank-order correlations, between media and public –agenda.

The theory’s central claim as stated earlier is that the media focus the public’s attention and influence the public’s perceptions of what are the important issues of the day.  Whether you agree or disagree with this claim depends on what school of thought you belong to.  After all, the original McCombs and Shaw agenda setting study focused on four local sources – The New York Times, Time Magazine Newsreel, NBC and CBS.  So you can understand why critics of the theory are quick to emphasize that in a digital world such as we now find ourselves, the fundamentals have changed and the theory may not remain viable.

Such critics argue that people now get their news from a finite number of news outlets, run by professional gatekeepers, with shared news values.  As the numbers of news outlets increases the advance for them shrink. Therefore, the assumption of a unified media agenda has become problematic.  In other words, as the audience gains more control over what news services it will use, the audience will likely seek services that support their point of view.

But let’s put aside the academics and focus on the Nigerian Media and how they set or do not set the agenda for the public.

Nigeria’s media landscape is perhaps the most vibrant in Africa.  The nation has about 350 broadcast stations made up of 170 television stations and 150 Radio Stations, each of them with about 80% population coverage.  There are also cable and direct-to-home satellite offerings, the print media which has 150 national and local press titles, and the internet. So far, the internet and the World Wide Web cannot set an agenda, primarily because the audience remains small, and many online publications depend on major brand names as the primary sources of information.

Therefore, the broadcast outlets and newspapers that operate the websites still maintain control of the setting of the journalistic agendas and the public debate. Even at that, online journalism stands to dramatically alter the traditional role of the reporter and editor.

First, online journalism places far more power in the hands of the user, allowing the reader to challenge the traditional role of the publication as the gatekeeper of news and information.  The user can depend on the gatekeeper to select and filter the news or the user can drill down to the basic documents of a story.

Second, online journalism opens up new ways of storytelling, primarily through text, audio, video, and photographs—unlike other media.

And third, online journalism can provide outlets for nontraditional means of news and information.  As A. J. Leibling once said: “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one”. The internet enables everyone who owns a computer to have his or her own printing press.  But the audience for news and information on the internet and the World Wide Web remains small.

Be that as it may, “unlike the twentieth-century media environment, in which media largely was limited to traditional media entities, 21st Century Media options are endless, captured by the economic metaphor of the long tail. The Long Tail is a phrase coined by Chris Anderson, in 2004; in which he argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current best sellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough.  Citizens can now opt to be creators and or distributors.

They now curate the web in large numbers for interesting content sharing links and other newsworthy information out in the confines of newsroom home pages and within the digital world such as blogs, twitter and social networking sites (Meraz, 2012).  Consequently, traditional media is no longer capable of leveraging complete media agenda setting influence, which in effect means that Agenda setting power is also influenced by external forces, who constantly seek to put their own agenda in the front burner, now shared between citizen media and traditional media.

For Nigerians who painstakingly watched the setting and the general atmosphere at INEC’S press conference in Abuja, on February the 7th, 2015, the methods, intricacies and critical tools of news reporting could not have gone unnoticed. Individuals with certain skills and an array of equipment crowded up the whole space all day-long for a singular purpose; to receive or extract the final word from the leadership of the electoral body and to disseminate the information to the wider public.

When the press conference finally got underway, observers must have had further insights into processes leading to the final product i.e the news (whether in print or broadcast, social media or Internet). In the question and answer session when the INEC Chairman had to explain some knotty issues, it was evident that journalists carry out pre-event investigations and research and are able to elicit information or commitments that could bring some issues to closure.

In the aftermath of that press conference, the newspapers, magazines, radios, television channels, social media and the internet were awash with stories and news analysis, as well as features. All of them the product of the labour of news reporters.

From several other beats (Business, Capital Market, Energy, Environment, Metro, Sports, etc), stories – exclusive and otherwise – sourced by other reporters competed for airtime in the news bulletins or space on the pages of newspapers, with prominence accorded those with the greatest ‘impact’ and immediacy, among other considerations.

What the reading public and viewers found in the many and diverse news of February the 8th, 2015 were not just stories deriving from the presentation by Professor Jega and the question and answer segment but also ‘stories behind the news’. The same has to be said about virtually all other news reports in the editions of that day or any other, with the exception of interviews.

In the letters and opinion pages of the print media, phone-ins on radio and television, Twitter handles and other platforms, reactions of members of the public at home and abroad, deluged with facts and data, are regularly published. And public discourse is enriched. But you know what? even though the seed for the agenda setting was sown several week earlier  at Chatham House by the National Security Adviser to the President, the Nigerian media did well to bring out more issues to the public domain- Jega’s purported sack, IDPs, North East and the elections and Boko Haram.

Why all this media attention, you may want to ask? Because media attention is one of the most potent resources in the political system.  Indeed, it has the power to move people, and even nations.  As the INEC press conference illustrates, attention can mean the difference between ignorance and action, between silence and solution.

In the National Assembly, attention is what distinguishes policy problems that are addressed from those that remain in disrepair.  In the courts, attention is what distinguishes the judicial precedence that are deliberated from those that are left unquestioned.  And so in the context of the subject matter of this gathering, news media attention is what distinguishes the events and related policy issues that become matters of media discussion from those that go unnoticed.

Let’s take Channels News at Ten and Three national newspapers, The Punch, The Guardian and Thisday.

These programme and Newspapers are largely representative of other national news outlets across the country and by some accounts help to lead national news coverage.  Each day, the issues captured on Channels News and the front pages of these newspapers send signals to politicians and citizens alike about which problems are important and which are not.

So, indeed, media attention can shape public opinion, governmental attention, and public policy (Dearing & Rogue 1996, Iyengar& Kender 1987; McComb 2004). Without media attention, Policy needs generally have slim chances of garnering public endorsement, financial support, or legislative action (Cobb & Elde’s 1983)

So, if media attention is important …….. I mean, really important as I have made it, the question then is by which mechanism does media attention get distributed, such that some stories get the five star treatment, while other receive a scant amount of front-page coverage or, in most cases no coverage at all.  Why for instance will the possession or non-possession of a school certificate by the APC Presidential Candidate get front page treatment, while the rot in the nation’s primary schools across the country does not get any attention.

Why is it so important to give prominence to the tirades of the spokesmen of the two leading political parties while nothing is said about the state of the country’s economy.  Why black out the atrocities committed by Boko Haram and skew the story about the kidnapping of the Chibok girls to suggest a phantom event, and instead give prominence to government contracts.  The questions are endless, so too are the answers.

But, the Big question is – What Forces Drive The News? 

The process of making news is messy and complex, with many moving parts.  Although, it isn’t possible for us to account for all the factors that determine the news on any given day, we can point to systemic forces that affect how news outlets and the people who run them behave.

Like many other institutions, the media is shaped by specific incentives that derive from its formal rules and informal norms of operation.

Three scholarly frameworks have been identified in a bit to explain the news generation process. First, from the journalistic perspective in the “organizational process” approach, which focuses on how journalists and editors respond to professional incentives by using specific mechanisms, such as new judgment and elite indexing, in order to sort through each day’s inflow of events and generate the day’s news.

Second is the “Market Place” approach which explains how competition-based incentives dramatically shape newsroom operations and therefore, the stories that make the news. In particular, these market place incentives drive news outlets to distribute their service resources in such a way, and to mimic the behavior of other news outlets in such a way, that media coverage is strongly driven by path dependencies.

I add a third approach called The “ Pied Piper” approach, which is basically that the man who owns the media, influences to a large extent what is reported as the day’s news.  You only need to look at the government controlled print and electronic media and some of the media proprietors in the private sector to understand this.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by saying that the Nigerian media should endeavor to re-focus its attention on the issues of poverty reduction, addressing youth restiveness, education, the economy, unemployment and security.

If I may borrow the words of Osakwe Stevenson Omoera of Ambrose Ali University in his work titled “Towards Redefining The News Agenda In The Nigerian Media For National Development” Osakwe posits, that The Nigerian media must begin to de-emphasize mere routine reportage of news that pander to the whims and caprices of selfish political leaders at various levels of government in Nigeria.

It should also be part of setting the agenda for development for the Nigerian media to do more of investigative journalism in order to keep both public and private individuals and organisations on their toes to achieve set deliverables.  A situation where high profile corruption cases such as the Julius Berger, fuel subsidy heist, Siemens, Halliburton and banking sector scandals remain largely unresolved does not inspire any confidence in the system and must be avoided.

THE END.

Media Should Take Pride In Agenda Setting – John Momoh

john_momohThe Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh has urged the Nigeria media to take pride in discharging its foremost role in nation building by taking the forefront of agenda setting.

He said this while delivering a keynote address; titled; ‘Mass Media; Setting The Nigerian Agenda’ at the 1st Distinguished Lecture Series, organised by the University of Lagos Mass Communication Alumni Association.

The event took place at the Afe Babalola auditorium within the school premises.

“Media attention can shape public opinion” Mr Momoh said.

He further noted that “Without media attention, policy needs generally have slim chances of garnering public endorsement, financial support or legislative action.

“So, if media attention is important, the question then is, by which mechanism does media attention gets distributed such that some stories get the five star treatment, while others receive a scant amount of front page coverage or in most cases, no coverage at all”, Mr Momoh asked.

At the lecture, which was well attended by members of the academia, several other speakers stressed the need for media practitioners to remain faithful to their roles as watch dogs in the society.

In their submissions, Professors Ralph Afinfeleye and Wale Omole noted that some media practitioners have abandoned their posts as watch dogs and have been infected with ‘rabies’.