From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has charged media gatekeepers to work harder for cohesion, peace and unity in Nigeria.
Ganduje spoke on Monday at the 2021 Biennial Convention of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) holding at Tahir Guest Palace Hotel in Kano, lamenting that, “the crossing of red- lines by some media organizations have impacted negatively on the nation’s unity, harmony and integration.”
According to him, “more than ever before, we need to understand these difficult times in our country. It is very important that we should use the media for the promotion of peace and stability and alter public views and sentiments towards a more peaceful resolution of our multifaceted current crisis.
“If we and if we, as a nation, are interested in peace and harmony, we must reject hate propaganda machinery. This is a time Editors should be conflict- sensitive about our nation” said the governor, who urged the Editors to exercise their social responsibility in favour of the country.”
Ganduje added: “Even if the governing authorities in Nigeria are encountering challenges in their strategies for developing the country, it is not enough to join in some fervent advocacy that seems to beat up the drums of war to break up this country.”
Ganduje admitted that there is a growing consensus on the expediency of restructuring the nation, but said “that advocacy should not be confused with some rebellious acts of some elements who will like to destabilize our great country, Nigeria.”
The Governor decried the absence of an influential Press Council to regulate the activities of the print media, saying that the vacuum has become an institutional weakness that should be tackled and corrected without delay.
He counseled that all the controversies and litigation stalling the emergence of a respectable Press Council in Nigeria should be resolved amicably so that a regulatory body for the print media would be established.
While insisting that the watchdog must be watched by some external institution, he argued that all over world, the idea of self- regulation by a professional body is longer tenable.
“You can see very clearly that the National Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) has made a difference in regulating the broadcasting industry, no matter our criticisms of the regulatory body,” he stressed.
Ganduje, while applauding his administration for isolating COVID-19 in the state, said they adopted a three point agenda of preventive, curative and palliative measures during the heat of the pandemic to deal with the scourge.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Mohammad Buhari, Garba Shehu, equally stressed the need for gatekeepers to be cautious and to work for peace and harmony.
Garba, a former President of the Guild, noted that the occasion presented an opportunity for Editors to remind themselves of their critical role as a link between the people and the government.
He observed that Nigerians need to be reassured that governments, at various levels, are working very hard to secure them against banditry, kidnapping and these killings in the system.
“I think that it is time we look inward and see how we can help stop pessimism, fake news and rumor mongering,” he insisted.
In his paper, the Guest Speaker, Professor Umaru Pate, recommended the need for the establishment of a National Media Development Fund which would assist the media industry to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 crisis.
He also recommended the adoption of new media funding models and designs saying that single source of revenue model is no longer sustainable in the industry.
Pate, whose paper was entitled “Media in COVID -19 Era: Opportunities and Challenges”, said government has a role to play in supporting the media given its unique role in democratization process.
According to the Vice Chancellor of Federal University Kashere, government has a duty to intervene and salvage the media in a manner that does erode credibility and media independence.
This he said could be done,through such initiatives as tax waivers, payment of debts and advertising bills, better investment in public broadcasting, lifting license fees for commercial broadcast organizations among others.
He charged media practitioners to prepare and confront te future uncertainties in the industry while encouraging them to look at the prospect of a more dynamic media management style given that the existing media funding model is collapsing
He confessed that the COVID- 19 pandemic compounded the predicaments of the media in Nigeria and led to loss in advertising and sales revenues as well as several other financial earnings for the media.