By Salihi Abubakar Bello
The governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has accused some journalists in the country for claiming freedom of speech and abusing professionalism and ethics.
This was made known during the Biennial convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) held at Tahir Guest Palace Hotel in Kano city recently.
Governor Ganduje was talking at the backdrop of a purported video allegation released by an online publisher, Jaafar Jaafar of him receiving kickbacks from a contractor which he vehemently denied and rejected and people too rejected it, as it lacked iota of truth and experts found it to be doctored made available to tarnish the image and the name of the governor, which he made for himself over decades.
According to him, absence of an influential press council that will regulate the print media has specifically become an institutional weakness that should be tackled without delay.
Governor Ganduje said freedom of speech in one hand and observance of press professional conduct on the other hand are measured as indexes of development in the country.
He noted that all controversies and litigations that had stopped the emergence of acceptable press council be handled with care.
The governor said to be talking about two variables, one is freedom of press and the other is professionalism and ethics, while journalists are singing the chorus of freedom of the press, let’s not forget to compliment it by singing the chorus of ethics.
He also maintained that freedom of the press is normally abused by those in power while destroying the ethics is always carried out by the people in the media.
Ganduje stated that since it is a major index for the measurement of development all over the world, he urged journalists to pay attention to the two indexes (freedom of the press and ethics and professionalism).
He expatiated that the world over, self regulation is not enough for any professional bodies, “this is because of the complexity of human being at the moment,” added the governor.
He said the question is who watches over watchdog, adding that one can see clearly that National Broadcasting Cooperation, (NBC) has made some differences in regulating the broadcasting no matter the criticism of the regulatory body, saying major broadcasting apologises to others for their own mistakes.
The governor said that the biennial convention of NGE was an avenue to engage in some imperfections about the country.
He maintained that more than ever before, there is need to understand this difficult time in the nation, adding that it is very important that media should be used for promotion of peace and stability and change the viewpoint that could alter public views and sentiments towards a more peaceful resolution of multifaceted current crisis, if only and if as a nation are interested in peace and harmony that together reject propaganda machinery.
The governor advised that editors should be conflict sensitive about the nation, saying he has a feeling that crossing of the redline by some media organizations in recent times impacted negatively on the nation’s unity, harmony and integration.
He concluded that collective pursuit of unity of the nation underscores the fact that for as long as there is a common purpose, no obstacle big enough to stop the nation from matching on.
Ganduje suggested that media and particularly gatekeepers have a role to play in this regard.
He described it as high time for the editors to exercise their social responsibility they owed their country even if the governing authorities are encountering challenges in their capacity to develop it.
He suggested once more that “it isn’t enough to join some fervent advocacies that are beating the drum of war and the break up of the country.”
The governor appealed to them to note some opinions which seem to building some consensus on the expediency of restructuring the nation, stating that advocacy should not be confused with the rebellion act of those who want to destabilise the nation.
He urged media to play paramount role in setting the agenda for nation building.
The governor chided some ignorant and reckless commentators that they should be very careful in exercising freedom of speech at this very important time, saying that freedom could not be exercised without some social responsibilities being paid.
He however reiterated further that media and Covid-19 era; challenges and opportunities is one of the most salient concern at the moment of the pandemic despite frantic efforts by relevant stakeholders continued to wreck havoc on global scale.
He said to have realised the power of the media in influencing decision and choices of the people, it is therefore pertinent to partner with some working journalists on how to educate the public in prevention and safety measures, saying that a lot is expected from the media of particularly generating content that would further educate the public.
He said, the state, being the most populous in the federation, observed good relationship between Covid-19 and democracy, thus his administration decided to have a three-point agenda in order to fight the pandemic, naming them as prevention, curative and palliative.
Ganduje however cautioned that fake news is the major obstacle to the fight against the disease that caused a lot of mishap in the state, the nation, the continent and the world at large.
He urged the editors to disallow fake news enjoying free days in their respective newsrooms.
He concluded that his administration has succeeded in isolating Covid-19, instead of the pandemic to isolate the people of the state.
In his earlier address, the former governor of Ogun State, Aremu Olusegun Osogba described Governor Ganduje as their own, the people of the South West considering the fact he married off his daughter to a Yoruba person, portraying the gesture as a way of creating a true and genuine Nigeria.
Osogba, who was the chairman of the event, said his thought of coming to the state for the convention was that it is the safest place, “and that is the truth as a journalist, I must speak,” said the former governor.
According to him, his first experience as soon as he arrived the state was CCTVs all over strategic places and he gave credit to Governor Ganduje for the security in his state.
He said to have recently attended a meeting of the South West governors on the Fulani ranching crisis, he discovered that Governor Ganduje donated thousands of hectares of land for ranching for the Fulani cattle rearers, describing the initiative as the kind of cooperation needed.
Osogba appealed to governors to borrow a leaf from this kind of collaboration worthy to be noted and emulated.
He said to be grateful that they are in the state to make direct assessment of the successes of Governor Ganduje and from what they have witnessed so far, he achieved a lot.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu described Governor Ganduje as one of the misunderstood politicians and most calculating ever produced in the country.
According to him, a lot of people underrated him and they do so at their own cost and he said to be rest assured that people who underrated him are regretting it.
He thanked the governor for making the state one of the safest in the country, adding: “He achieved that by the use of technology and commitment, reconciliation that people should come and learn from him.”
Shehu reminded all and sundry about the link between the people and the government of the challenges which the citizens needed to be reassured of the government’s resolve to securing them from the menace of kidnapping, killing, banditry and insurgency.
He stressed the need to look inward and see how together they can stop the spread of facimism, negativism and rumor mongering.
He added that the convention was an opportunity to remind selves of responsibility to improve social cohesion in the country.
The SSA appealed to the editors at the convention that they should look at the country more in terms of a glass half full not half empty.
Also, the guest speaker at the convention, Prof. Umar Pate informed the cream of editors about the experience he garnered at a meeting of communication scholars he attended in Glassgow where a statement was made about the poor funding of conventional media, that the sum of $558 billion was budgeted for advert world over and a little above 40 per cent was for broadcast media and print media got eight per cent, while the remaining chunk goes to digital media.
This, according to him, posed a threat to conventional media.
He gave example of the experience during lockdown where people confined to their various homes and stayed glued to their televisions which has added up to television viewers world wide, but despite the stayed at home order, conventional media couldn’t add up to their readers and revenue.
Meanwhile, the national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, however reminded the relevance of journalists in every development and was of the view that corruption, which is a cancer, could not be controlled without the media.
Mr. Isiguzo described the theme of the convention, tagged: ‘Media in Covid-19 Era’ as a wise choice considering the havoc the pandemic is wrecking in the nation and world over. He hoped that at the end of the event, a good report would come out.