Ajibola, Amosun, Buhari’s Aide task journalists on national unity

Elder statesman and former World Court jurist, Bola Ajibola (SAN), has urged the media to pay more attention to the fight corruption and indiscipline in Nigeria. Ajibola made the call just as Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, stressed the need for media professionals to always promote national unity.

They spoke in Abeokuta at a public lecture organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ogun State Council as part of activities marking its 2017 Press Week.

The event, with the theme: “Cultivating new media for robust journalism and nation-building”, was attended by media stakeholders, security operatives, civil society organizations and youth associations. Adesina, who was represented on the occasion by the president’s Special Assistant on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, appealed to journalists to desist from sensational and misleading stories for mere monetary gains.

While noting that there cannot be democracy without the press, the presidential aide asked journalists to do all in their power to deprive secessionists and terrorists of ‘the oxygen of publicity.’

He also advised journalists to focus on the opportunities new media can offer to reach new and bigger audiences instead of looking at it as a threat. Adesina said, “If Nigerian journalism is keen to not go the way of obsolescence, then it must step to embrace new Media.

“For the ongoing and unending task of nation-building, Nigerian journalists must, more than ever before strive to return to the basic principles and ethics of journalistic practice. In the age of fake news and hate speech, we must, as Margaret Thatcher memorably put it more than thirty years ago, do all in our power to deprive secessionists and terrorists of ‘the oxygen of publicity.’

“We must ask, at all times, tough questions, about whether or not our social media narratives are not glorifying Boko Haram, for example, or perpetuating ethnic stereotypes. We must strive for nuance at a time when the brevity of new and social media is encouraging the opposite. For every secessionist out there, I believe there are several champions of Nigeria’s unity, for every purveyor of ethnic hatred there are multitudes of Nigerians who respect our ethnic diversity and realise that our strength as a nation lies in that diversity.”
The special adviser tasked the media professionals not to allow the pressures and demands of the Internet Age to serve as an excuse to abandon the rules and ethics that have kept journalism relevant and significant.

Ajibola, who was chairman of the occasion, said the level of corrupt practices was endemic in the country, urging journalists to brace up to tackling the menace.

He said, “We have serious problem of this corruption. It is very endemic. We have it disturbing our situation left, right and centre. It is a shame on our government, it’s a shame on our people, it’s a terrible situation in our country. This is a food for thought. Journalists must come to our aid. They must learn to present us in a better light than we are now involved in.

In his address, Amosun noted that the fabric of unity and continued progress of any society largely depend on the vibrancy of journalists. The governor, whose address was read by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Otunba Dayo Adeneye, said journalism as a profession must begin to adapt itself to keep up with the pace of technological breakthrough not only in reportage but also in the use of technology.

He said, “It must divest itself of anachronism and expand its scope for it to properly function as the watchdog of the government. The practitioners must also begin to upgrade themselves not only in information management but also on useful tools for effective and efficient performance.

“The smart word on the streets now is that for a profession to continue to remain relevant, it must follow the evolutionary trends. Such a profession must seek not only to be innovative, but also must be compliant with the global best practices. It is therefore imperative that journalism must also keep abreast with the latest in the world of information and communication technology.”

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