Published on International Journal of Informatics, Technology & Computers
Publication Date: December, 2019
S. A. Shaibu
Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Bingham University
Journal Full Text PDF: Constructing Town and Gown Mass Communication Chain for National Progress and Development.
This paper takes a look at communication gaps between the town and gown that makes progress and development impossible in Nigeria at the back drop of the fact those Universities, Research Centres and other tertiary institutions are Centres of ideas, hypothesis, theories and innovations that drive progress and development of any country. The paper also uses the social responsibility theory to say how much can be done to bridge these communication gaps.
Definition of terms
Construct: here means to build or create.
Town and gown: Is the relationship between our Universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institutions and the world outside the institutions’ systems. i.e relationships between the Ivory Towers (Universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institutions) and the publics or the societies of the academic institution.
Mass Communication: here has to do with all the media of communication elements that makes information, education, entertainment and cultural promotions of society possible eg. Oral media, print, radio, television and the new social media.
Progress and development: here has to do with taking the Universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institution to a new level, that impact on all sectors of our society or creating an enabling environment that makes the Universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institutions more useful to their different societies and publics.
We need a new definition of our own progress and development that is rooted in our core values from the following posers.
a. Is enormous riches for an individuals without conscience and values synonymous with progress and development?
b. Is a great and flying performance index with food, water, employment the same as development?
c. Is great technological breakthrough of godless men and women including nations, progress and development?
d. What is the balance between animalistic minimalism (Shaibu 2018) and humanistic core values?
e. How has modern definition of progress and development distorted our traditional values?
f. What are the negative impacts of Arabian colonialism and Western colonialism on what we consider as progress and development in our own land?
g. If great nation of the world have no disconnect with their universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institutions, why should we parade or announce such inadequacies?
Government parastatals and Agencies operate as isolated islands in an oasis of discordant notes.
Universities, Research Centers and other Tertiary Institution also are Centres of learning and ideas have no direct connect with isolated Government Agencies that need them (Shaibu 2018). Not much work has been done in the area of town and gown disconnects in Nigeria. For example, in the developed or developing clime Universities and Tertiary Institutions are think-tank centres for developing theories and implementing strategies of best practices not only in government but in the growth of private sectors. Our own story Shaibu S.A (2018) is a story of duplication of efforts, giving contracts/consultancy services that have answers in different studies in our Universities and Tertiary Institutions. Some, if not most of those diverse recommendations are gathering dusts in our different Universities, Research Centres and Tertiary Institutions.
A sampler of these communications disconnects includes the following:
a. Disconnect between the army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Para Military Organization and Vigilant Groups in the areas of external and internal securities.
b. Disconnect between department of mass communication and the publics, private and social media organizations in our country.
c. Disconnect between engineering departments of our Universities, Research Centres and Tertiary Institutions and new innovations in our private/public sector companies.
d. Disconnect between theories and practices in our different institutions.
e. Disconnect between the government and the governed.
f. Disconnect between the party officials, the politicians and their supporters.
g. Disconnect between federal government and state or local governments.
h. Disconnect between the market places of ideas and diverse islands of ignorance in the societies.
i. Disconnect between leaders at all levels and followers at all levels.
j. Disconnect between employers and employees
k. Disconnect between octogenarian leaders (old leaders) and the leaders in training/waiting (youths).
We must address the town and gown issue because “The road to success is always under construction especially in Nigeria (Shaibu 2018).
The University, Research Centres, Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria, are not only the places “three roads meet”: literature, culture and society” (Layi Wola 2010) but also the place where “lies the fountain of knowledge” (recte sapere fons)
The Universities, Tertiary Institution and Research Centres should, in my applied application of Shyngle (2011) stop “dancing in the Nigerian social jungle” of isolated communications.
The media – print, broadcast and the new social media can be properly utilized to achieve this.
Akinfeleye (2003) solidly affirm that “Information is necessary for effective governance and administration.
Every information chain must have source/sender via a medium to the receiver but we must state that right from independence in Nigeria, processing and receiving of information has been marked by narrow – identity politics and mindsets (VPGNII 2015).
Shaibu (2018) opines that it is this narrow identity politics and mindsets of corruption that has made it impossible for the town and gown symbiosis in the following areas
a. What –is-it-for me corruption syndrome rooted in contract award for consultancy and other contracts that are best handled by Universities, Research Centres in a cost effective way.
b. Commercialization of the media that removed emphasis from public service to cash and carry media service delivery.
The Nigerian media – print, radio, television and social media as earlier asserted by Akinfeleye is by far the oldest and most outspoken. It is the richest in traditions, pluralism and development. It should therefore, according to Shaibu (2018) chart a new course in uniting the gown and the town for a sustainable progress and development of our country in highlighting news, programmes and commercials from the public and private outfits to address, not only interdepartmental, governmental governance issue, but also intra-communication obstacles that militate against progress and development in organizations, Nations, Tribes, Religious, Companies, Parastatals, etc.
A catalogue of these communication and information dissemination challenges include:
i. Inter-Universities and Research Centers
j. Intra-Universities and Research Centers
All these information dissemination must state what is where, why, how, when etc for the readers, listeners, viewers to know, because they have the right to know for the vision, mission, or objective of media practice to be actualized in society. When this is done, duplication and dissipation of energy is avoided for society to grow into progress and development.
Note that the emphasis here is the right to be educated informed, entertained only on issues, but not on narrow – identity information dissemination as below:
Core Northern geopolitical zone media – for core Northern interest and promotion of religion.
Western geopolitical media – for western Yoruba interest protection and defence of tribalism.
Eastern Geopolitical zone media – for protection of Igbo interest and defence of ego
While the minority zone media – Is for protection of minority interests and pocket of their neo-colonial sentiments.
Progress and development will mandate Practitioners to gettison these journalism of kit and kin (Akinfeleye) for the embrace of Shaibu (2018) journalism of issues on:
a. Mass literacy.
b. Environment protection.
c. Democracy and good governance.
d. Pan Nigerianism.
e. Child right protection.
f. Population protection.
g. Inclusive governance.
i. War against corruption.
j. Positive change.
k. Human Right.
l. War against terrorism.
m. Poverty alleviation.
n. Employment general.
o. Agriculture production.
p. Selfless leadership.
If Practitioner can only imbibe/ key in or tap these all pervading power of the media art, the press or journalism or broadcasting or the social media as kick started in Nsukka in 1962 or University of Lagos pioneer training programmes in 1966. We cannot but agree with Akinfeleye (2003) that:
There is no doubt in the minds of communication scholars and politicians alike as to the potency of the Press in nation-building. Just as it is in economic theories of development, where the essence of economic development is a result of an increase in the economic productivity of the society, so also it is in the cause of the roles which the press can play in nation-building.
Walter Williams, first Dean of the World’s first school of journalism at the University of Missouri / Columbia United States of America, quoted in Akinfeleye (2003) best captures the enormity of these powers:
…. In heaven there will be no need for lawyers or magistrates, for the people will not be involved in any court cases – there will be no need for doctors because the people will not be sick. Also, in heaven, there will be no need for policemen because the people will be peaceful and orderly. In heaven there will be no need for immigration and customs officers because each resident of heaven will have permanent and multiple visas for free movement of goods and people. In heaven there will not be any need for the politician because there will be no politics either of bitterness or without bitterness. But in heaven there will be need for journalists and the press because the people living in the Western part of heaven will want to know what happens to their counterparts in the Eastern part of heaven. So also will the people living in the Southern part of heaven want to know what happens to their counterparts in both the North, East or Western parts of heaven.
The hitherto dormant rote of media, mass communication, journalism to be in the forefront of the battle for effective communication between the town and the gown can be attributed to Siebert, Peterson and Schram that states that:
The press always takes the coloration of the social and political structures with which it operate.
This was the practice in totalitarian, capitalistic, socialistic and libertarian societies. It is also true to Nigeria.
The media Practitioner can equally be victims of the narrow identity culture, the corruption, the regionalization, tribalization and bigotization of issues along geopolitical, tribal and religious mindsets of most Nigerians (Shaibu 2018).
But the agenda-setting theory and the social responsibility theories have since sent warning signals to media Practitioners, mass communicators, broadcasters, journalist of the print, electronic and new media to wake up from present professional snoozing in breaking up with the realities of present challenges to address not only this matter of town and gown communication, but other communication challenges.
In other developed and/or developing clime, the Universities, Research Centres and other Tertiary Institutions are the last breaking ground of ideas, theories and/or hypothesis. What Public and Private Institutions do is to look up to these Centres of learning and Research for solutions to their diverse problems. Our Country cannot afford to be different. There is no development anywhere in the World without concepts, planning, hypothesis and theories first. These Centres of Learning and Research are the repositories of such ideas for development. Any society that operates as isolated island outside these learning centres is doing so at his/her detriment.
We must deconstruct our minds through reorientation, reconcientization and remobilization from ideas, practices, vision and mission without foundation as all these will crumble like a pack of cards or a building built on sandy foundation with no sustainable basis for continuity.
1) Akinfeleye, Ralph Afolabi (2003) Fourth estate of the realm or fourth estate of the wreck: imperatives of social responsibility of the press, inaugural lecture, University of Ibadan.
2) Dele, Layiwola (2010) A place where three roads meet literature, culture and society Innaugural lecture, University of Ibadan.
3) Odunayo, M. Oluwatosin (2007) University of Ibadan, inaugural lectures, University of Ibadan.
4) Shyngle, kolawole Balogun (2011) Dancing in the social jungle inaugural lecture, University of Ibadan.
5) Siebert, Fred, Peterson, Theodore and Schram, Silbur (1972) Four theories of the press, University of Ilorin press.
6) Shaibu S.A (2018) Communication lecture mimeographs, Bingham University, Mass Communication Department.
7) University of Ibadan Motor – “Recte Sapere Fons”
8) VPGNII Project literature (2015) to facilitated Generation of sustainable National Conference towards Nigeria’s continuous strategic advancement diamond prints, Lagos.
9) Shaibu (2018) “Lecture mimeographs” unpublished, Mass Communication Dept., Bingham University, Karu, Nassarawa State, Nigeria.
10) Shaibu S.A (2004) Radio World” The Sound Alternative Immaculate Prints, Abuja.
11) Shaibu S.A. (2006) Content Delivery for Radio Television and Advert Agencies. Diamond Prints, Lagos.
12) Shaibu A.S. (2014) Dialogue as Part of Mass Communication for Mobilization Change, Progress and Development in Nigeria Creative Industry, Diamond Print, Lagos.