Experts and stakeholders in urban planning have called on the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to include the media in the efforts to review the long overdue FCT master plan.
The call was made during a media empowerment seminar organised by the FCT Administration towards equipping media practitioners with the topic “The role of the media in the review of Abuja master plan”.
In a lead paper at the occasion, a lecturer with Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra State and former Assistant Editor with Nigerian Tribune newspaper, Mr. Christian Chidiebere Okeke, gave insights on the major role of the media in shaping in moulding the developmental plan of any city.
Okeke explained that no society can better take proper shape, formation or periodic review without a degree of information being provided by several media outfit within the domain,
while playing the role of watch dog of the society and also setting agenda for the leaders as well as recommending or proffering solutions for programme implementation.
He said: “In Nigeria (and perhaps elsewhere), the media means different things to many people. This includes belief that the media is very powerful.
In fact, Nwosu (2003), quoting Alan Schwartz, refers to what he described as the power of the media when he observes, inter alia, that the power of the media has grown almost geometrically in recent decades,
and alerts that it could control the minds, actions and destiny of the people if unchecked. Lending his support to the assertion, Kur (2008) emphasises that the mass media, as an institution in any political system, exert tremendous influence on the system”.
This critical characteristic of the media, according to him, typified by power correlates with power even in politics where it denotes the capacity to influence actions, including making people to do something which they ordinarily could not have done.
“Thus, Olisa et al (1990) define it as the ability to secure a conforming behaviour. In line with that position, therefore, power can then be said to represent an ability to affect behaviours, and it is this unassailable attribute that the Nigeria media is believed to possess”.
While sighting references from different authors, Okeke said that major worry is the observation made and caution given by Lasswell that mass communication could be dysfunctional (or harmful) as well as functional for a society.
“This accounts for the earlier observation that media means different things to many people, and from further interrogation, many believe that the media here is largely dysfunctional.
That lends credence to the overall attitude towards the media by those that the media should functionally serve, on one hand, and the public on the other”.
Discussing on some knotty issues involving the Abuja master plan, Okeke stated in his lecture that it is expedient to note that the Abuja Master Plan is a 286-page document produced for the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) by United States of America-based planning consultant – International Planning Associates (IPA) –
which was commissioned for that purpose in June 1977 by the Authority which, in itself, was established by the Federal Government as sole agency for the planning, designing and developing of the city.
“The Authority equally was to oversee construction and maintenance of infrastructure in the city.
Thus, the consortium got the draft ready in about 18 months. However, 38 years after the Plan was drafted, same is yet to undergo review. This is despite the many symptoms which go to show that all is not well with it,” Okeke said.