The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar made a shocking revelation in a speech he delivered recently at the 4th Quarter meeting of the Nigerian Inter-religious Council: “A couple of weeks ago, 76 people were killed in Sokoto by bandits in a day; it is not seen as a story because I went there with the governor of Sokoto; you don’t hear these stories because it happened in the north and we don’t have the media that is strong enough to bring out these atrocities by the bandits; so people think that the north is secure”.
The bottom line of this lamentation is easy to decipher; the paucity of print and broadcast media in the north places it in a position of weakness in the tussle over who controls information at the national level. This weakness has afforded the southern media a control over what information to disseminate and how it is disseminated.
Understanding why the north lags behind in the print and broadcast media requires casting a sort of critical gaze at the industry.
Apart from the NTA that has 104 stations spread out across all states of the federation, the north cannot boast of having a truly national television news channel.
The south on the other hand houses two out of the three major and most vibrant national television news channels in the country; Channels TV, TVC News and Africa Independent Television (AIT).
A similar story can be told in the print media industry. Daily Trust, Leadership and Peoples Daily are the only major privately owned national daily newspapers in the north.
On the contrary, national dailies in the south include, among others: The Nigerian Tribune, The Punch, The Guardian, The Vanguard, This Day, The Daily Sun, The Nation and The Daily Post Nigeria.
From the foregoing paragraphs, it will be observed that the print and broadcast media industry owes its rise and development to the roles played by the elite and professionals.
While the southern elite and professionals invest heavily in their media, their northern counterparts, with a few exceptions, are busy flaunting their wealth without regard for the plight of their people living in extreme poverty and their underdeveloped region.
In order to bridge the wide gap that exists between the north and the south in the media industry, the northern elite must invest heavily in their media.
Until the gap is bridged, the narrative will continue to favour the south.
Abdulwahab Olalekan Lukman, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.