From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), professors of mass communication and media studies, as well as a federal lawmaker have advocated free press in Nigeria, and also charged journalists to practise responsible journalism, which includes conflict-sensitive reporting, and avoidance of blackmail of clients.
The charge was given by a Professor of Communication and Media Studies/Deputy Vice Chancellor, Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo, Muyiwa Popoola, the guest lecturer; Dean, Faculty of Mass Communication and Media Technology, Lead City University, Ibadan, Prof Lambert Ihebuzor; Dr Bisi Olawuyi of the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan; and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Olusegun Odebunmi, representing Ogo Oluwa/Surulere federal constituency of Oyo State.
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They spoke on Tuesday at a public lecture, entitled: Media Viability, Public Trust and Nigeria’s 2023 General Elections, organised by the NUJ, Oyo State Council, under the leadership of Ademola Babalola, held at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, to commemorate the 2022 World Press Freedom Day, which is being marked annually across the globe e every May 3.
They also called for regulation of the social media in order to ensure that irresponsible journalism is adequately checked for the growth and development of the nation, as well as for the betterment of the media industry in the country.
The occasion witnessed presentation of awards in different categories to Bovas and Company Limited – Corporate Symbol of Dignity; Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Lead City University, Ibadan – Distinguished Institutional Friends of the Media; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resorts, Ibadan, Dotun Sanusi, and a federal lawmaker, Olusegun Odebunmi – Distinguished Friend of the Media; Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Oyo State, Adaralewa Akintayo – Public Administrator Par Excellence; Zonal Director, Ibadan National Station, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mrs Bolatito Joseph, as well as the Publisher, Parrot Xtra Magazine, Olayinka Agboola – The Pride of Journalism
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Odebunmi, who is a ranking member of the House of Representatives, said: “If the press is crippled, the nation is doomed,” saying the media should not hesitate to embark on sound and constructive analyses for the consideration of those at the helms of affairs.
The guest lecturer, Popoola, who noted that between 2012 and 2022, more than 9,000 media practitioners have been killed based on some factors, “A polarized society with unviable media outlets leads to social unrest, thereby discouraging prospective investors. This is highly reflective of Nigeria as a Third World country that is currently undeveloping.
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“The social media has been manipulated by different individuals to sell beautiful lies to the public; social fake media stories and propaganda continue to reduce people’s confidence in the media and the general attitude of Nigeria as a country. The implication is that the globe may not take Nigeria seriously. There are cases of news stories widely sold, which were later silenced by propaganda.
“A viable media builds trust and patriotic consciousness among the citizens. Where the media is reliable and not manipulated by individuals and the government, the masses will freely and genuinely express their opinions on the steps to be taken for the advancement of society without fear of being misquoted. Today, some Nigerians have decided not to express their views about Nigeria’s current predicaments because of the horror of political intimidation and fear of being misquoted.”
Former governor of Kano State and a 2023 presidential aspirant on the platform of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, in his goodwill message, which was delivered by the party’s National Vice Chairman, South West, Prince Ademola Ayoade, enjoined journalists across the country to “avoid being the mouthpiece for politicians and political parties, but practice their profession within the ambit of the professional ethics. It is also of necessity to remind you all that your lives must remain precious and should not be sacrificed for any pecuniary interest.”