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Osinbajo to Editors: Journalism in its dying state

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has tasked the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to save journalism from its dying state by enforcing the rules and values of the profession. 

Prof. Yemi noted that most professions, particularly journalism, had been threatened by artificial technologies, adding that social media had virtually taken over the conventional media in terms of readership and followership. Osinbajo, who spoke as the Special Guest of Honour during the 14th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC, 2018) in Asaba, Delta State capital, yesterday, noted that it was only the media that can define the true ideology of democracy.

The vice president’s goodwill message was titled: “The end of Professions, the end of Journalism.” According to him, the burden is on the guild to set the agenda and the rules as well as enforce and keep them. “For journalism, are we at the end of the profession? Today, social media has totally become the choice of everybody and read by many people than the newspapers,” the vice president said. He noted that apart from the challenges of technology, the professionals remain a challenge to themselves, such that people had lost confidence because most information lacked objectivity and accuracy.

He said that the journalism profession had, today, become partisan and were being influenced by politicians and nonprofessionals. He charged the media to fight corruption in the system, adding that corruption, like cancer, could eat up the fabrics and eventually kill the victim, if not checked. While he called for proactive measures to check the activities of quacks in professional bodies, to take professions out of their poor state, he called on the guild to promote credibility, fairness and objectivity as true tenets of journalism practice so as not be presiding over what has stopped from existing.

He said: “Is journalism in its dying days? I also belong to a profession that is in jeopardy. But who is to be blamed, if not modernised technology, an inevitable evil? Corruption is a cancer. Once it is committed and overlooked, it will surely kill the profession. The way to take our professions out of their last days is to make the personal sacrifice of removing the bad eggs amongst us and refuse the temptation of corruption.” The host, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed delight that the conference, tagged, ‘Credible Elections, Sustainable Democracy and the Nigerian Media,’ expressed concern for the future of democracy in the country and tasked the Guild to enact a Code of Conduct to fight the dangers confronting journalism profession.

He appealed to the editors not Osinbajo to Editors: Journalism in its dying state lOkowa tasks journalists on credible polls lOver 400 editors converge on Asaba to join desperate politicians to be threat to democracy by helping them to trample upon political stability with impunity.

He said: “Democracy should promote the welfare of the people. PDP in 2015 laid the foundation for a sustainable development of democracy in Nigeria when peacefully handing over power to the opposition, APC. Opposition must be allowed to exist. Election should be allowed to be conducted in an atmosphere of trust. “The temptation of suppressing opposition must be discouraged.

The media must set the agenda to protect public interest, and deliver the full story, hold the election managers accountable for its credibility, no matter whose ox is gored.” Okowa, who described the Nigerian press as one of the freest in the world with a rich, enviable history of crusading against corruption, bad governance and despotic leadership, noted that “a situation where a reporter is unsure of his next pay cheque does not augur well for the growth of the profession as it exposes them to undue influences from politicians and public office holders. Survival is a basic instinct of man and a person whose survival is threatened could care less about integrity and fairness.”He added: “We need our journalists to report the truth, no matter whose ox is gored. But they cannot do that with boldness, confidence and assurance if their welfare is in jeopardy.”

Okowa stated that the theme was relevant at this point in time, especially in the light of the recently concluded party primaries; insisting that indeed, the choice of the theme aptly reflects the concern of all Nigerians for a free, fair, transparent and credible 2019 elections for sustainable democracy.

“Democracy requires the exercise of political power to promote the public good or welfare of the people, accountability and transparency in governance and the existence of viable opposition parties for it to be sustainable. “One of the biggest steps we took towards ensuring sustainable democracy in Nigeria was when, in 2015, the ruling PDP at the federal level conducted an election, lost and handed over to the opposition APC. This was a scenario previously thought impossible. But when that happened, to the chagrin of critics and naysayers, a solid foundation was laid for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.” He tasked the current APC-led Federal Government on the need to build on this foundation and resist the temptation to repress the opposition and militarise the electoral process. The chairman of the occasion, Dr. Tony Iredia, urged the media to immediately take control and whip key-players in electoral matters into line by setting the national agenda for a generally acceptable election next year. He categorically warned the media to stop, what he tagged, “post office journalism”, even as he emphasized, “don’t stand behind politicians, be at their forefront instead. Condemn what is condemnable and praise what is right.”

Earlier, the President of the Guild, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, charged the conference on sustainable democracy through a responsible journalism. She maintained that “a wrong choice next year will leave us with consequences that will last us years.” While she said that the task of choosing a leader was a collective responsibility and a work for a few kingmakers, she maintained that if the media houses and practitioners think “our democracy is on autopilot, they will lose more than their brand new wives.” Egbemode said that 2018 had been an eventful year and one in which the guild had been able to achieve all of its set goals.

“This is the year we laid the foundation of editors’ complex in Abuja, but for bureaucratic bottlenecks, our target was to have finished with first floor by September,” she said. She said that the guild was part of the process of reviewing the media code for election coverage in Nigeria. 

Egbemode said that the training and re-training promised were also being delivered and commended media professionals for unquantifiable support she and her executive had received from them. She also commended the Delta Government for accepting to host this year’s annual conference of the guild and promised that the media would support development strides. On the choice of the theme of the conference, she said “choosing a leader and our leader is a collective responsibility. It is a work for all, not for a few king makers.” Over 400 editors of Nigerian media, yesterday, converged on Asaba the Delta capital for the 14 All Nigerian Editors’ Conference. The conference has its theme as: Credible Election, Sustainable Democracy and The Nigerian Media.”

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