#PanamaPapers, Social Media and Fourth Estate of the Realm

Posted by Olusegun Hakeem-Adebumiti | 16 April 2016 | 2,463 times

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Revelations from the Panama Papers is the in-thing now across the globe. Apparently, this explains the situation we are in the world today: with a click of the mouse or the press of a button, the world is brought to our doorsteps, without stress.

The Panama Papers’ revelation took the team of investigative journalists, who unravelled the leak, a year to uncover the over 11 million confidential documents of financial dealings of politicians, celebrities and public office-holders with stakes stacked in tax havens. That alone is breathtaking! It’s kudos to these jolly-good-fellows for bringing more prestige to the journalism profession. For sure, those guys are likely candidates for the TIME Magazine’s 2016 personalities of the year.

For the last five days or more now, revelations from the Panama Papers have further reinforced the belief by members of the global community that these unnecessarily celebrated icons in the world made their fortunes from controversial circumstances. These same people are celebrated ignorantly on the pages of newspapers and magazines, and we even call them philanthropists.

While the revelation has consumed a notable public office-holder like the Prime Minister of Iceland, after a protest from the citizens; same could not be reported of African leaders as none of them mentioned from this part of the world has toed the honourable path. As at Saturday morning on Downing Street, the official residence of the UK Prime Minister (PM), David Cameron, hundreds of protesters gathered to demand the resignation of the PM, after he admitted to having a stake in the tax haven, before he became the prime minister. It is yet to be seen whether he will, as well, toe the path of honour by resigning from his position as PM. The unfortunate aspect of the protest was that the BBC World Service remained silent on the protest. Apparently, could that be a show of support for the PM, or what? Thanks to the Russian Television and citizen-journalists on the social media: there was a blow-by-blow coverage of the protest. The protesters also took to the social media to demand Cameron's resignation, as the hash-tag, #resigncameron, trended for hours. The scenario of the protesters brought a sense of nostalgia for the 2011 Arab Spring protests.

Then, it was the social media through the activities of citizen-journalists that culminated  in the successful dethronement of leaders such as Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya by the citizens. Besides, the continuous crisis in Syria and Yemen cannot be unconnected from the Arab Spring protests of 2011.

The Panama Papers revelation has, once again, brought to the fore the roles of members of the fourth estate of the realm towards achieving an egalitarian society, where merit and justice will prevail over mediocrity and injustice. Journalists should do more of investigative journalism in order to put politicians, public office-holders and, above all, governments on their toes. For us to ensure even development of our society, where accountability and transparency is the watchword, journalists must be above board by practising pristine journalism.

As more revelations trickle in, more names are expected to emerge from the Panama Papers, and whether it will lead to the end of many public office holders across the globe, only time will tell.

•Hakeem-Adebumiti is of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State.

Source: News Express

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