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11th All Nigerian Editors’ Conference in Bayelsa: An appraisal

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson flanked by the executive committee of the Nigerian Guild of Editors at the opening of the association's conference in Yenagoa, the state capital, Thursday
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson flanked by the executive committee of the Nigerian Guild of Editors at the opening of the association’s conference in Yenagoa, the state capital, recently

Communication experts observe that editors, being the gatekeepers in various media organisations, have a great role to play in bringing positive change in any society.

They note that the recognition of the role of editors in this regard explains the rationale behind the theme of the recent 11th All Nigerian Editors Conference, entitled: “The Change we need: Role of the Editor’’.

The conference, which was held from August 26 to August 30 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, attracted more than 270 editors, drawn from the print, electronic and online media across the country.

The conference featured presentation of papers by scholars and the experienced in the media industry within the context of its theme.

Those who presented papers included Prof. Etannibi Alemika of the Department of Sociology, University of Jos, whose lead paper dwelt on the theme of the conference.

Also, Dr Barclays Ayakoroma, Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, spoke on “National Re-orientation as a Catalyst for Change’’, while Mr Gbenga Adefaye, Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, delivered a paper on “When the Editors’ Status Changes’’.

Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, represented Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as the Special Guest of Honour of the occasion.

Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa was the chief host and Mr John Momoh, the Chairman of Channels Television, was the chairman of the event’s opening ceremony.

In their speeches, the speakers recognised the critical role of the media in nation building and urged editors in public and private media establishments to support the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Welcoming the delegates, Malam Garba Deen Muhammad, the President of Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), stated that the theme of the conference  ‘brings forth the nature, character and content of the change Nigerians expect’.

According to him, there is no alternative to the Nigerian nation and with a new government in place in the country; Nigerians expected changes that symbolised democracy and good governance.

Expressing similar sentiments, Mr Waheed Odusile, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), solicited collaboration between the NUJ and NGE to energise the media to take its constitutional responsibilities seriously.

He also called for meaningful collaboration between the two unions to ensure regular payment of salaries of journalists working in public and private media.

Setting the tone for discussions at the conference, Momoh stressed the need for the media to play its watchdog role effectively to actualise the desired positive change that Nigerians expected.

“The way some of us extort information affects our own physical well being. Let us understand that we must be professional in discharging our functions.

“There’s the need for us to develop a citizen agenda by going into the communities to bring issues that affect the people.

“The editor must imbibe new ways of doing things, change is the watch word and editors must take the lead’’, he stressed.

Osinbajo, on his part, cautioned the media to exercise restraints in the types of messages they gave out to the public.

“You have a moral obligation to ensure that the messages you dish out are in the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“The media should be objective in handling stories and reports that come to them in the best interest of Nigerians’’, he said.

The vice-president, however, assured the public that the government would collaborate with the media to ensure total re-orientation of Nigerians, advising the media to complement government’s efforts in that regard.

In his address at the conference, Dickson urged all Nigerians irrespective of political differences to support the change agenda of the present administration.

“For me, as a governor on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), my position has been that after elections, all men and women of our country must unite to move our nation forward.

“We need to give support to the Federal Government and we must also collaborate and work together as brothers and fellow Nigerians to deliver on the economy,’’ Dickson advised.

But Alemika noted that the change Nigerians solicited could only take place by addressing the huge capacity and integrity deficits in the three arms of government at levels.

“In our quest for change, the mass media, the editors in particular, should provide platforms and spaces for democratic deliberation,’’ he said.

In all, the Guild, in a communiqué at the end of the five-day conference, resolved that the media must remain steadfast in objective reportage of events in the country.

The communiqué advised that Nigerians must unite to build a prosperous and secure nation, irrespective of political, ethnic and religious differences.

It also urged government at all levels to carry the mass media along in planning and execution of critical developmental policies and programmes.

Observers, nonetheless, note that since there is a consensus that change is inevitable in Nigeria, the editor, being the gate keeper, must be circumspect in educating Nigerians about the nature and scope of change desirable in the country.


Courtesy: NANFeatures

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