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The Role of the Writer in Political Reform

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Chido Nwakanma

Find your voice!

Nigeria is in the throes of change. Change was the mantra of the ruling party as it swept into office in 2015. Since then, change has buffeted it and the country from various directions, mainly in the areas where it promised to deliver positives. These are the economy, security and the state of the nation.

Nigerians have experienced negative changes in all three areas. Nigerians now clamour for reform, beginning with the structural foundation of the country.

The writer is an intellectual or anyone who deals in and with ideas.”An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about the reality of society, who may also propose solutions for the normative problems of society, and thus gains authority as a public intellectual” – Wikipedia

Writers fit into this schema. For political engagement, we adopt a broad definition of the writer as an intellectual.

Noam Chomsky asserts, “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” Chomsky says that faced with apparent lies, outrages and oppression, “intellectuals should follow the path of integrity wherever it may lead” His umbrella for intellectuals takes in”journalists, academics, artists, even clergy.”

Good writers have well-defined vision and mission statements though primarily unstated. It often includes participation in the conversations about the past, present and future of their countries. It is a primary reason for writing.

Even the Christian Holy Book recognises the role of the writer in visioning. Seven instances will do.

  1. Habakkuk 2:2. Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it”
  2. Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”
  3. Revelation 1:19. Therefore, write down the things you have seen, and the things that are, and the things that will happen after this.
  4. Deuteronomy 27:8. And you shall write distinctly upon these stones all the words of this la”.

The story outlives us all, both writer and reader. Chinua Achebe famously stated that the writer’s role is to teach and provide guidance for the people. “…only the story…can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story…that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind.

Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather, it is the story that owns us and directs us. –Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

The writer is a teacher, mentor and mobiliser. He plays a critical and significant role in the brave new world of communication on multiple platforms. UNESCO in 1980 listed several functions of communication. They align with the part of the writer.

These functions of communication are information., socialisation, motivation, debate and discussion. Others are education, cultural promotion, entertainment and integration.

Socialisation provides a common fund of knowledge that enables people to operate as influential members of the society they live in, fostering social cohesion and awareness, thereby permitting active involvement in public life. Through debate and discussion, the media enable the provision and exchange of facts to facilitate an agreement or clarify differing viewpoints on general issues; the supply of relevant evidence needed to foster greater widespread interest and involvement in all local, national and international matters of common concern. The Integration function refers to providing all persons, groups, and nations access to the various messages they need to know and understand each other and appreciate others’ living conditions, viewpoints, and aspirations.

The many communication tasks speak to its significance in the modern world, made more so by the diversity of platforms and players feeding the pool.

Communication is central and contributory to the effective functioning of communities and nation-states.

The quality and qualify of information people share directly affects their well-being. Communication counts in peace and war. Sean McBride, Canadian and president of the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, envisioned the scope of communication. He stated, “As communication is so central to all social, economic and political activity at community, national and international levels, I would paraphrase H. G. Wells and say human history becomes more and more a race between communication and catastrophe. Full use of communication in all its varied strands is vital to ensure that humanity has more than a history, that our children are ensured a future.”

Experts and lay citizens alike point to the tone, content and quantity of information between and against the Hutus and Tutus as contributory to the Rwandan genocide. Nigeria is going through a period of passionate disagreements among citizens representing different persuasions. Writers are in the mix.

In the past, the call would be on editors to up their gatekeeping function. The barriers have lowered because of the diversity of platforms, and now almost everyone creates and distributes content.

Therefore, the call is to everyone who creates or shares content on all the media of this age: WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, GooglePlus, print, radio, television. Exercise circumspection as you write on the trending issues. Do not join the mob spreading fake news or propaganda. The scientist Isaac Newton reportedly stated, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy”.

The writers and editors of Nigeria must craft content that makes the point for each side without making enemies.

By Chido Nwakanma

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Features

EXPLAINER: What Figma’s Acquisition By Adobe Means For Users

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EXPLAINER: What Figma’s Acquisition By Adobe Means For Users

Tech giant Adobe has concluded the purchase of Figma in a $20 billion deal.

In a blog post in which the disclosure of this deal was made, it was disclosed therein that the $20 billion deal comprised of approximately half cash and half stock, and is expected to close next year (2023).

Adobe is deeply committed to keeping Figma operating autonomously,” Figma co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dylan Field, in the blog post, wrote, adding that he will collaborate with the President of Adobe Digital Media Business, David Wadhwani, on how to continue growing Figma’s business. “The entire Figma team will report to me. We plan to continue to run Figma the way we have always run Figma — continuing to do what we believe is best for our community, our culture, and our business.”

“This is a big change, especially for a platform you rely on every day,” Field added.

Understanding Figma and Adobe

Newsrand understands that while Adobe is a behemoth in the creative industry, Figma, in the past decade pioneered product design on the web. So far, the latter has been able to amasse millions of users.

What Figma users should expect?

  • While we are still in the early days of the acquisition, it has been confirmed that Figma users would start to experience some changes. Although, not negatively.
  • To the excitement of Figma users, who avoid Adobe pricing, this acquisition will not see the firm introduce a new pricing model.
  • Amongst other things, this acquisition will see the company improve the platform by incorporating Adobe’s areas of expertise, including imaging, photography, illustration, video, 3D, and font technology. 
  • As Figma continues to expand into new areas over time while simultaneously improving products like Figma Design, FigJam, and the Figma community platform, this deal will see its users grow into new communities that bring designers and developers closer together to unlock the future of collaborative design.

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Features

Chevening Scholarships: Here’s How You Can Apply

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Chevening Scholarships: Here's How You Can Apply

Chevening Scholarships have been making news headlines in Nigeria amid the prolonged Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.

The Federal Government through the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Chris Maiyak, had advised Vice-Chancellors of tertiary institutions across the country to circulate information about the scholarship in their respective schools.

“The National Universities Commission is in receipt of the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ref. TSW/BRI/V/T and dated 12 August 2022, with the attached Call Letter from the British High Commission Abuja, dated 3rd August 2022, on the above subject.

Consequently, I write to forward the Call Letter to Vice-Chancellors for urgent attention and wide circulation in your various universities,” the letter read.

What Chevening Scholarships offer

The scholarships are sponsored by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and partner organisations. And it offers people across the globe, including Nigeria, the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom (UK) for one year on a fully funded master’s degree course.

While successful Chevening candidates come from a diverse range of countries and backgrounds, they are all privileged to the numerous benefits of the programme.

Parts of the benefits include -fully funded tuition fees, access to some of the best quality education in the world, exclusive networking opportunities, and the chance to explore the UK’s diverse culture.

How to apply for Chevening Scholarships

To explore this opportunity, you are advised to apply via the programme’s portal (www.chevening.org/apply).

After logging in to the portal, one would be required to submit some documents, then awaits feedback.

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Economy

EXPLAINER: How To Use USSD Code For ENaira

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EXPLAINER: How To Use USSD Code For ENaira

Governor Godwin Emefiele of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Thursday, August 18, 2022, introduced the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code for its digital currency, eNaira.

Newsrand recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari, in October 2021, launched eNaira as Africa’s first Central Bank Digital Currency. However, while the first phase of the launch was focused on banked users, the second phase borders on financial inclusion.

Talking about eNaira, Emefiele stated that “as captured in the design paper released, eNaira is a journey, not a one-time event. This hackathon event is a continuation of that journey and the first among many to come given that the future of central banking is inextricably bound in innovation.

“We don’t have a choice but to live with the fact that we are now in a digital economy. In a digital space where the use of cash will dissipate to almost zero and the use of digital currency will increase and will now become part of our lives.

“The second phase of the project has begun and is intended to drive financial inclusion by onboarding the unbanked and the underserved users leveraging offline channels. Hence greater success is envisioned for the project with phase two expected to deliver more gains with the target of eight million users based on estimation using the diffusion of innovation model.”

Tips to use USSD code for eNaira

First, it is important to note that the USSD code is usually programmed into Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards or cell phones to transact easily and faster.

But to use the USSD code for eNaira, dial *997# on your mobile phone and follow the instruction.

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