Nigerian Journalists Tasked To Set Bold Agenda For Nation’s Development


By Sunday Etuka, Abuja

The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Dapo Olorunyomi has tasked Nigerian Press to set a bold agenda for the nation’s development.

Olorunyomi spoke virtually at an event organised by the CJID in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day on Friday in Abuja.

He noted that for a better democratic practice, the media must hold government accountable, as contained in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“We must offer our practice as ethical and fully professional gatekeepers for consensus building through thoughtful debates on the best direction for our country and institutions.

“I think thus far, in Nigeria, the efforts of the media and civil societies in holding government to account has contributed to the emergence of what we can truly call Nigerian democratic state”, he said.

Corroborating him, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Akin Rotimi affirmed that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended conferred on the Press the critical role as contained in Section 22 regarding the obligation of the Mass Media, the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.

He stressed that “the role of the press is not to be seen as a mouthpiece of the government, but it is actually to hold government to account. It emphasised that at all times, that it is important that the press plays this constitutional role of holding government accountable”.

He stated that among many other challenges in the course of discharging this constitutional mandate, however, “the press faces the disproportionate exposure to harm in the face of our wide spread insecurity in the country. There are also issues around funding and lack of professionalism”.

The lawmaker pointed out that the lack of professionalism is the bane of the noble profession, and has opened the windows for quacks and charlatans to take over the practice of the profession.

Nevertheless, he said, “the 10th House of Representatives recognises the integral constitutional role of the Press hence contained in our legislative agenda.

“The house is committed to working with the media to promote the preservation of freedom of expression and the press with the number of actions, including the review of laws and practices that will encourage press freedom and the ability of the media to carry out its constitutional role”.

Speaking on a topic, “The Role of the Media in Reporting Environmental and Climate Induced Conflict”, Hon. Rotimi tasked the media on strategic reporting to address the existential crisis of climate change.

“Many Nigerians look up to the media for answers and explanations in the face of this circumstances. It is important to shape the narrative by going further to address the root causes.

“It is not just about reporting the headline of something that has happened, but there should be other follow up interventions to be able to change the narrative for all the stakeholders to take necessary actions”, he said.

Earlier, in his Welcome Remarks, the Deputy Resident Representative, Kanrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Nigeria, Lukas Laible said, the freedom of press is not only the freedom of journalists to inform, but also the right of the citizens to be informed.

On her part, the Deputy Director, Journalism Program, CJID, Busola Ajibola saluted the courage of Nigerian journalists, saying that despite the travail, and the oppression, they have ensured that their voices continue to soar.
“It is important to let you know that we see your bravery, we see your courage and we acknowledge it.

“Yes, we do not have guarantee that it is going to get better very soon, but that you can be sure that we are rooting for you.
“We believe in what you can do. We believe in your capacity to transform this democracy”, she added.

Meanwhile, a data released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), on the 29th April, 2024, indicated that 1,600 journalists were killed since the first World Press Freedom Day, saying that almost 50 percent of journalists killed in 2007 were in Iraq.

The report also said at least 94 journalists have been killed since the war in Gaza Started on 7th October, 2023. It said, 83 percent of the journalists killed in 2023 and 2024 were in the war in Gaza.

Furthermore, a new report published by the UNESCO on World Press Freedom Day reveals that 70 percent of environmental journalists have been attacked for their work.

It revealed that at least 747 journalists or news media reporting on environmental issues have been attacked in the last 15 years, and online disinformation has surged dramatically in this period, thus calling for stronger support for environmental journalists and regulation of online platforms.

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