Assessing the role of media on insecurity and national development

Again, the role of the media as partner in the Nigeria project has continued to be on the front burner of national security and development. NAJIB SANI reports that this was the consensus of opinion at the just concluded NUJ press week in Bauchi.

Since pre-independence and post independence era in Nigeria, the press has been playing pivotal role in national development by holding those in power accountable to the citizens as well as enlightening the public on government’s policies and activities.

It is also noteworthy that  from 2009 to date, Nigerian government has been grappling with more security challenges posed by Boko Haram insurgency, farmers/ herders clashes, kidnappings and militancy in various parts of the country for which the solution will need collective efforts of all stake holders like the press to address them through their contribution in various capacities.

However, journalists also face more problems when reporting issues of security as security agencies and media practitioners often have divergent views on how to handle such matters with both sides claiming to be more patriotic and righteous than the other.

In line with this, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the professional body for all practicing journalists in the country, has recently reiterated the need for synergy between the press men and security operatives in the country especially in this trying moment in order to ensure lasting security and sustainable development.

The national president of the union, Comrade Chris Isuguzo made the call recently during a public lecture/opening ceremony of 2018 Press Week organised by Bauchi State Council of the NUJ in Bauchi on the theme, ‘The Press, Insecurity and National Development’.

Represented by his deputy, Comrade Mukhtar Gidado, the NUJ president asserted that the theme was relevant particularly in this trying period when the country is engulfed with disturbing security challenges.

“Journalists, the mass media and indeed the security machineries of government are partners in progress in ensuring security and national development of any society and have always been protected in times of war and conflicts”, he noted.

“Therefore, the recent associated challenges that we are facing in our country are not insurmountable. We must practice our chosen profession according to its ethical standard as expected by the people.

“We must shun bias reportage of events and remain resolute and steadfast with our professional calling for a meaningful national cohesion and national development”, he advised.

He expressed the union’s determination to collaborate with other relevant stake holders such as Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the Nigeria Press Council (NPC) to address issues of professional misconduct and abuse of privileges among members.

Isuguzo lauded the Bauchi state council for organising the press week, assuring that the national leadership would always support councils and chapels that are very proactive in initiating laudable programs.

Speaking further, he said,”There is no doubt that a free press is fundamental to a democratic society. It seeks out and disseminates news, information, ideas, opinions, comments and analyses on issues of public importance.

“The press provides platform for a multiplicity of voices to be heard and bridges gap between government and the governed.

In her lecture on the theme of ‘The Relevance of Mainstream Media in Countering Fake News, Hate Speech and Insecurity in Nigeria’, Dr Rukayya Yusuf Aliyu of the Department of Mass Communications, Bayero University Kano (BUK) asserted that no meaningful development can be achieved without a robust and effective media institution.

“No doubt technology has revolutionised information processing and dissemination, thereby giving birth to what is popularly called digital, online or New Media and the likes”, she said.

The guest lecturer said that even though the New Media came with its own positive and constructive side, it also can be negative and destructive. Key areas among the negative aspects she pointed out are hate speech and fake news especially in the Nigerian context.

“There is no doubt Nigeria is faced with the challenge of proliferation of hate speech and fake news. This is as a result of the effect of digital journalism”, she noted.

She stated that hate speech and fake news have been condemned as a national disasters and threat to national security, adding that they constitute abuse of professionalism and ethics of journalism.

Dr Rukayya who emphasised that the traditional media remains very relevant in addressing the menace of hate speech and fake news, said journalists must face the challenges posed by technology and be extra creative in reporting.

In his speech, the special guest of honor and governor of Bauchi state, Mohammed Abubakar, represented by his deputy, Abdu Sule Katagum, said journalists are duty-bound to checkmate the proliferation of fake news on the social media by countering them with factual stories. He commended the NUJ for organising the lecture, saying it was educative.

Earlier, the state NUJ chairman Comrade Ibrahim Malam Goje explained that the press week is primarily celebrated to foster unity and understanding among members of the union, update the knowledge of journalists as well as afford them the opportunity to share ideas on current issues in an organised forum.

According to him, aside the Press Week, the state council recorded tremendous achievements in the last two years which included organising annual ministerial press conferences for ministries, departments and agencies to brief the general public on their activities, free eye consultations to members in collaboration with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, ICT trainings to members and Ramadan dinners, among others.

“While doing these successfully, plans are in the concluding stage for the restoration of the study centre of International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) in Bauchi for training courses in Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma programmes”, he noted.

Blueprint reports that other activities carried out within the press week included visitations to families of deceased and sick members where token sums of N10, 000 each were donated, presentation of awards to outstanding journalists and friends of the media as well as football match between NUJ, RATTAWU and NAWOJ.

The event indicated that journalists are ever ready to contribute their quote towards nation building.

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