From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Vice President (West), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Bolaji Adebiyi, yesterday, said the Federal Government has failed to provide social justice, which has made peace to elude many parts of the country.
He said the media practitioners in the country have been saddled with the responsibility of reporting social injustice, among other things, and that the Federal Government has been persecuting them for doing their jobs professionally because it did now allow social justice to prevail in the country.
Adebiyi, who is the managing editor of ThisDay Newspaper, made the disclosure when he delivered the 2021 public lecture, organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, entitled: ‘Nigerian Journalists and the Search for National Unity’, during the launch of N100 million Journalists Estate of the Ademola Babalola-led state council.
He said he knows the two persons managing media and publicity for President Muhammadu Buhari – Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, describing them as fine, brilliant and professional gentlemen. But he lamented the consistent inconsistencies in the defence of President Buhari’s purported harsh policies by his media handlers, saying: “There is little or nothing you can do to sell a bad product.
“So long as the government is not able to do social justice, there will continue to be persecution of journalists. What is media in the first place? The media does not create news. It works on reports it got. What is reported is the creation of the society. When the government wants to be mischievous, it will refer to report as fake news. That does not come from the media as we know it. If you talk about social media, social media is not journalism, and there is nothing like citizen journalism.
“If the government is unable to provide the basic needs, and it continues to treat the citizens as if they do not matter, that will reflect in report sent out, and the government will not like it. They will call it favouritism and what is there for us as solution?
“First solution is that the various bodies: NUJ, NGE, NPAN and other stakeholders have to step up their game. The media must remain relevant to the public so that when there are attempts to persecute the media, the public will rise in its defence.
“Today, because of the adverse impact of social media, many of the reports being complained about emanate mostly from the Facebook. As for the mainstream media, there is the need to up our game. But that will not be possible until we resolve those issues of welfare condition within the industry.”
Former special assistant to the late president Musa Yar’Adua and former president Goodluck Jonathan, stated further on the perceived inconsistencies in the activities of media handlers in the presidency: “I must confess it is extremely difficult to package a bad product.
“From experience, I know sometimes the principals listen to us and sometimes they don’t. Even though the media people could be competent, if they are not given free hand to operate, there will be problem like we are having it. Once a product is bad, there is little or nothing you can do to sell it.
“What I can see in the case of the present government is that the media handlers cannot claim not to have access to their principal. But I feel they are unable to convince their principal about the implication of the policies they promulgate.”