By O’star Eze
The Nigeria mainstream media have been charged to come together and set transformative agenda for Nigerian leaders.
A foremost social scientist, Dr Obiora Okonkwo said this while delivering the theme talk during the 2019 NUJ, Anambra State Coucil Media Summit, Thursday, September 12.
In his theme talk, titled Media, Democratic governance and development in Nigeria, Dr Okonkwo noted that though Nigeria was celebrating 20 years on uninterrupted democracy, “Nigeria’s democratisation is still in the process while Ghana has completed theirs.”
Speaking on how the media can help in the development of Nigeria, he said that the media needs to be bold in their reportage, and develop a new mindset, ethos in the profession.
“Those who studied journalism during the military rule must have been taught to attack. But now we are in the new era, there is need for a new approach,” he said.
He emphasised the need for training and retraining of the new journalists as well as playing key role in corruption fight. He said that there is need to be sensitive in reporting in order not to inflame the already tensed polity.
“Nigeria is celebrating 20 years of non interrupted democratic process. If you ask me if the government is entirely accountable to the people, I will say not entirely. Are we consolidating on the democratic process after 20 years, I still say, not exactly.
“We are still enjoying some democratic freedom, though. Nigeria is one of the few countries that have press freedom,” he said.
Continuing, Obiora said, “There must be active participation of citizens, rule of law in which the law applies to all citizen for us to say we have consolidated our democracy.
“Ideally, when there is a true democracy, you don’t have to be in a particular party to be gainfully employed or enjoy social welfare.
Having been through long hurl of military process, many of us have been militarised.
“Human development index is a better factor to evaluate development, he said, quoting the UNDP.”
“What may be more important to a professional journalist is the persistent discussion of release issues in the society.
“Media wields tremendous power in any democratic setting in its twin agenda of setting and framing agenda.
“If media can come together to set agenda for the government, they do not have any choice but to walk in it.
“By the time the media start writing about the good things happening in Nigeria, people outside would be attracted to it.
“America won the souls of the world through Hollywood. In New York, you still have pit toilets but you will not see it in any of their media.
“The press has a duty to make politicians to move from thinking about the next election to thinking about the next generation.
“Press has a role to interrogate some of the actions of our leaders and our people. Until they are courageous in their reportage. Stop waiting for calamity to report.
“Let our people know that all hopes are not lost. We need to step up to the challenge. We are losing generations. The media has a role to play in this reorientation. We are in dire need of transformation and the media has a role to play in it. Without it, any development that is not based on virtues, it is bound to fail.
Quoting Obi Egbuna, he said, “the role of a writer is to wake people from sleep. If you are not doing that as a writer, you are sleep walking yourself.”
Others who graced the occasion were the deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, and Professor Stella Okunna, the first female professor of mass communication in Nigeria.
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