The editors reaffirm their commitment to defend democracy and freedom of the press –
The Nigerian Editors Guild (NGE) closed its public meeting/capacity building conference in six geopolitical zones, during the week – the last in Port Harcourt, the south-south zone, resolving not to yield to any circumstances in its historic duty to defend and promote the cause of democracy and freedom of the press in the country.
The NGE said that having contributed immensely to maintaining democracy in the country, including putting the lives of many of its members on the line – through constant harassment, brutality and death, its members are now better equipped and energized by training to discharge their constitutional role of holding government accountable to the people.
The editors who commended the US Embassy in Nigeria for sponsoring the regional training workshop for 350 editors across the six geopolitical zones, urged the embassy to also support phased trainings for editors and journalists.
In a statement signed by NGE President, Mustapha Isah, and Secretary General, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the editors explained that having constantly sacrificed their lives in defense of democracy, they also decided to take up the challenge by moving to screens the spectrum of aspirants angling for presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies to ensure that the electorate has credible information to make informed choices in the democratic process.
“The editors have decided to help ensure that frivolous and unserious candidates, as well as those who have demonstrated no leadership ability, are eliminated from the race.
“Ahead of the 2023 general elections, editors should engage further with other stakeholders such as civil society groups, the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies and others to deepen the process. democratic.
“Editors should also ensure that parties and their candidates are properly guided along thematic campaigns and discourage campaigns rooted in exploring the ethnic, religious and regional divides that tend to divide the country,” said the editors.
Noting that the media thrives best under a democratic regime, the NGE explained that the media has contributed far more than any section of Nigerian society to inducting, promoting and supporting the cause of democracy in Nigeria.
“While other sections of society were subjected to a military dictatorship, the media stood like the Rock of Gibraltar and had the cheekiness to look the military in the eye.
“Unfortunately, despite the country’s enormous human and material resources, many years of democratic rule have not brought significant development in different sectors to make a significant impact on the lives of the Nigerian people. But the media will not give up in their defense of democracy,” the editors added.
Amid growing disinformation, disinformation and deliberate lies in cyberspace, publishers have also decided to explore the use of fact-checking tools to verify stories as part of the process of erasing the credibility gap.
According to the editors, “there is a need for the media to always use fact-checking tools to verify their stories. And that, no matter how reliable a source has been in the past, the media should always be cautious about any disclosure from any source by double-checking the information.”
Noting that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can help media outlets deal with the problem of source anonymity, especially when faced with legal issues, the editors said it was necessary that the media make more use of the law as part of the decision to inject greater credibility into its stories.
Stemming from conversations at the conferences in the six geopolitical zones, the editors said that while regulating media practice will grant media professionals greater respect like other groups, pandering to the antics of a government, which has always shown an abrasive zeal to cripple the Nigerian media – regulating the media alone will be detrimental to their survival.
“This is all the more true given his insidious use of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) codes to crack down on stations that give vent to anti-government views.
“Editors agreed that the media should strive to regulate professional practice and also ensure good corporate governance by owners of media houses, to ensure an adequate supply of working tools, a better working environment and improved staff well-being,” the editors added.
The editors praised NGE management, led by Mustapha Isah, for “raising the bar of engagement” through the training workshop, which not only enriched their knowledge but also created a platform for more social networking among members.