Home Community Insights How PREMIUM TIMES Uses Discipline, Punishment in Its Editorial on Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway

How PREMIUM TIMES Uses Discipline, Punishment in Its Editorial on Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway

How PREMIUM TIMES Uses Discipline, Punishment in Its Editorial on Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway

Political and non-political circles have been debating the importance of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project being carried out by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government for a number of days now. President Tinubu has been scrutinised in the media and in public courts, much like the previous administrations that proposed and carried out various projects. Different linguistic devices, socio-political contexts, and economic indicators have been used to analyse the project from various angles. 

In this piece, our analyst examines the editorial on the road project from one of the nation’s most renowned and critical newspapers. Premium Times is renowned for its in-depth investigative reporting and coverage that questions the deeds and inactions of public office holders. The newspaper is renowned for covering issues related to the private sector. The editorial was titled “a coastal highway of misplace priority and due process abuse” by the newspaper. 

Our analyst analyses the newspaper’s use of punishment and discipline as a metaphor to highlight inequalities in the planning and current construction of the road project. In the process, a few metaphors employed by the newspaper were examined through the analytical lenses of Michael Foucault’s ideas on punishment and discipline.

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Discipline emphasises how to help someone make a better decision the next time, whereas punishment literally concentrates on making someone suffer for disobeying the rules. The idea put out by Foucault is that one cannot exist without the other. The knowledge that defines and categorises people is the foundation for the power and methods of punishment, and this knowledge is derived from specific power and dominance dynamics.

In this regard, our analyst observes that, as highlighted in the editorial, the Nigerian government is exploiting the power granted to it by the Constitution, as well as facts that individuals do not understand, to dominate conversations over the road project. Instead of hiding beneath them, the newspaper’s editorial wants the government to act in conformity with the country’s current socioeconomic realities, particularly those affecting disadvantaged individuals.

The economy is bleeding profusely, there must be better areas to plough our little resources into

This metaphor conveys a sense of mismanagement and inefficiency within the economic structure, implying that resources are being squandered or poorly distributed. According to Foucault’s paradigm, this might indicate a lack of discipline in economic governance and resource management, in which those in authority fail to efficiently regulate and use resources for the benefit of society.

His (Minister of Works) zealousness in its implementation brooks no dissent, and sometimes it gets spiteful

Here, the metaphor represents an authoritarian style to execution in which disagreement is not permitted. In Foucault’s framework, this indicates a sort of disciplinary authority in which individuals are controlled and coerced into conforming to the wishes of those in power.

The political ecosystem is already astir on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, with the circumstances surrounding its award

This metaphor emphasises the political difficulties and disputes that surround the project’s execution. According to Foucault’s view, this shows the prevalence of power struggles and surveillance mechanisms in the political landscape, where many actors compete for control and influence over decision-making processes.

Adherence to due process has been raised by some critics, causing waffling in official quarters

The metaphor implies hesitation or indecision among official authority in response to accusations of procedural integrity. From Foucault’s perspective, this might imply a disruption in the regular functioning of disciplinary processes, as challenges to established procedures generate ambiguity and undermine authority.

How the project will be financed is still mired in obfuscation

This metaphor suggests the government’s intentional attempt to obfuscate or mislead the public about the project’s financial mechanisms. In Foucault’s paradigm, this is a type of disciplinary authority through informational control in which transparency and accountability are lacking, allowing those in power to keep control and evade examination.

It beats our imagination that the federal government will undertake the construction of these projects at a time that the country’s finances are heading south; and in the face of the dilapidated state of thousands of kilometres of existing highways, which are death-traps

This metaphor expresses skepticism and criticism of the government’s infrastructure development decisions in the face of budgetary constraints and current infrastructure inadequacies. In Foucault’s perspective, this emphasises the use of power by governmental officials in prioritising particular projects above others, despite popular objections and resistance. 

The Tinubu regime should be shrewd in deploying public resources

This metaphor emphasises the need for astuteness and strategic decision-making in government resource distribution. From a Foucauldian standpoint, it emphasises the need of disciplinary procedures in managing and regulating the use of state resources, with an emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness in attaining government goals.

These funds should not be frittered away on a white elephant and projects that will not positively impact the economy in the short and medium terms

The metaphor advises against wasting money on projects that may not produce major economic advantages. Foucault would take this as a plea for disciplined governance and rational resource allocation, in which government activities are scrutinised and assessed based on their perceived usefulness and societal impact.

Our teaching hospitals are relics of the last century

This metaphor describes teaching hospitals as obsolete and in need of upgrading. In the context of Foucault’s paradigm, it emphasises the significance of institutional structures in maintaining disciplinary norms and practices, where established systems and facilities may resist change and adaptation to changing society requirements.

Our seaports cannot compete with the best in Africa, which before now led to the loss of $7 billion annually to Cotonou and Ghana seaports, while the international airports are a laughing stock in comparison with their peers offshore.

This metaphor depicts Nigeria’s seaports and international airports as inferior and less competitive than those in adjacent nations. Here, the power dynamics and disciplinary procedures that shape the country’s infrastructure development and foreign trade ties are described as mirroring bigger concerns of governance and regulation.

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