Why media should sustain watchdog role under new dispensation


Prince Tony Momoh (left); Vice President -Elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Veteran Journalist, Mrs. Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo; Commissioner for Information, Lagos State, Lateef Aderogba, and President, Nigerian Guild of Editors(NGE) Femi Adesina, at the Biennial Convention of NGE in Lagos at the weekend

The President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has said that the media should not relent on its role of being a watchdog under his administration.

I would like to state that having played a role in bringing the present change, the work of the press is not over. The incoming administration would like the press to continue its role of watchmen and women, aggregating the views and positions of the people on national issues and presenting these as lucidly as possible through publication and other channels to the government to guide it in the onerous task of providing good governance for our people,” Buhari said.

Speaking in Lagos at the weekend during the opening ceremony of the 2015 Biennial Convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Buhari, who was represented by his Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, stated that from the outcome of the 2015 national elections, seasoned and well-informed journalists, under a good leader, influence the difference between victory and defeat.

This is so because for much of the election period, it is the press that the electorate listens to, and seek out to know the difference between the political parties and form their opinion about which party to vote for,” the president elect observed.

He continued, “Thus, the press plays a very important role in all modern states and especially in democracies. And as more and more states strive towards improving popular participation in government, the role of the press can only but expand thereby conferring more influence and responsibility on the Editors and their Guilds or association.”

Buhari observed that Nigeria is a huge country and no government can be able to know all that is happening across the length and breadth of the country without assistance of the media, which has an impressive national reach.

Highlighting the role of the media in the society, he said, “It is important to mention that the press in Nigeria, and indeed in many countries influence millions of people daily as most people make it a habit to read a newspaper or listen to newspaper reviews every morning before setting out for the days’ business.

And for many people including government officials, the reports contained in newspapers or the editorial opinion of some of the influential newspapers remain at the back of their minds and influence the basis of discussion and debate among government officials.”

For the president-elect, there is no modern society or government that can neglect the press or can function without a vibrant media. “It is for this reason, he observed that most government agencies, ministries and departments as well as the Presidency have press offices manned by media specialists and communication officers.

Also in democracies, we are yet to see a political party that does not employ the services of journalists and media experts nor can any political party or individual seek power or mandate from the people without utilizing the services of media experts and journalists.

The Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, who was represented by the Registrar of Association of Advertising Practitioners Council (APCON), Alhaji Garba Bello kankarofi enjoined the NGE to ensure that the incoming government is professionally reported.

A former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, who was the special guest, felt it was imperative for the media to focus more attention on the constitutional role of holding public officers accountable to the people as clearly spelt out in the constitution.

For him, those who compromised their duties as gatekeepers for pecuniary benefits are a disgrace to the journalism profession. He called on Nigerian editors to extend the relevance of their training to communication students across the country.

The press as the fourth estate of the realm is constitutional in Nigeria, but how much of that do we ensure,” he observed. Also speaking at the convention, the Chairperson of the 2015 Biennal Convention, Mrs. Dupe Ajayi Gbadebo, urged the editors to examine their conscience and see whether they were true to the code that they subscribed to especially looking at the just concluded electioneering campaigns in the country.

She stated that the profession must be practiced with passion for positive change, especially as envisaged and envisioned by our forefathers in journalism.

I cannot stand here and pontificate on the code of ethics of the profession when some media owners deliberately renege on their obligations to journalists.

Yes, an investment in the media may be a very expensive venture, but it is a venture that must, as a duty, consider the security of practitioners and indeed of the nation.” For her, the managing of a media house should not just be about smiling to the bank, but about being responsible for the welfare of the professionals as well.

She maintained that the owners who own the funds must constantly remember that the practitioners owe the talent and the training and that the nation is the greatest beneficiary of the product of this relationship.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE) Mr. Femi Adesina was re-elected for a second term in office. Adesina was returned during the 2015 Biennial Convention of the body, having been first elected in 2013 at the association’s convention held in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Adesina, who was highly elated over his re-election, noted that his re-election unopposed was a demonstration of the confidence his colleagues have for him. In a telephone chat, he promised to consolidate on the successes recorded in his first term.

According to him, in few months time, he and his other executive members would be delivering to the association a befitting national secretariat.

He also pledged that the training and re-training programme of the body would continue and would be glad to double the about hundred editors trained in the last two years.

He also wished that the Editors Endowment Fund, to be managed by a trustee, would come on stream to cater for retired editors. Earlier, before his re-election, Adesina, giving his stewardship as president of the association in the last two years, said that during his campaigns that preceded his election in 2013, he and his other council members made certain pledges and promises and “it is time for appraisal”. He rhetorically asked if they had kept their words or fallen short.

He however maintained that his executive has served the body of Nigerian editors well to the best of their abilities. He gave a brief on the activities and projects carried out by the association under him as the president in the last two years.

He talked about efforts to get members of the association trained, building a national secretariat, welfare, and endowment fund among others.

The other executive members re-elected were Garbadeen Mohammed as Deputy President, Suleiman Gaya as Vice President North; Victor Agusiobo,as Vice President East and Steve Ayorinde as Vice President West. Also elected are Assistant General Secretary Mary Atolagbe; Treasurer Ogbang Akwaji and Social and Publicity Secretary Funke Egbemode.

Victoria Ibanga and Mustapha Isah contested the post of National Secretary, which was won by Ibanga with115 votes against Isah’s 103 votes.

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