By Muhammad Hamisu Abdullahi & Umoru Ibrahim
Media in the Northern part of country has not been doing enough towards exposing the humanitarian crises emanating from banditry, kidnapping and insurgency from Boko Haram that continue to wreck havoc against the region.
In both the North East and the North West regions of the nation such crises, currently being experienced for over a decade, have led to loss of lives, displaced many dwellers of towns and villages, thereby forcing them to become refugees in some neighbouring countries like Niger and Cameroon.
Many children have been orphaned to an extent that some of them have been taken by some state governments to be under their care where a shelter was provided to them in the region.
Notwithstanding, these dehumanizing experiences, the media in the region has played a very insignificant role in exposing the gravity and enormity of these anti-people’s phenomena to the global community with to finding a lasting solution.
These revelations came yesterday from the responses of participants at the on-going Capacity Building Conference for Editors and Senior Political Correspondents on Press Freedom and Democratic Consolidation themed: ‘Agenda Setting for Sustainable Democratic Culture,’ organized by the Nigeria Guild of Editors and sponsored by American Embassy in Nigeria.
It is the view of most participants that unless media practitioners in the region wake up to their responsibilities, the danger the crises pose to the inhabitants of the region would continue to be a source of worry to the people of the nation and members of the global community.
The participants of the conference were drawn from the North Western part of the country.
In the responses, the media was seen to have failed in discharging its role, specifically in the region unlike what was obtained in some countries in Africa, like Rwanda and Sudan Republics that helped greatly in finding a lasting solution to some of their humanitarian problems.
Some of the problems identified to have hindered the performance of the media in helping greatly to address some of the issues raised around the insecurity in the region, included lack of giving training by media houses in the region to their staff in conflict reportage, as it would help them to report such issues safely.
That is why a Professor from the Faculty of Communication of Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Faruk Umar Jibril, while responding to some questions raised by some participants at the event, stressed that the Nigeria Guild of Editors, the Nigeria Union of Journalists and Broacasting Organisation of Nigeria could team up to require for necessary support to be given to their members or journalists as a whole to enable them perform their duties as expected.
Prof. Jibril presented a paper on ‘Responsible and Responsive Conflict Journalism: Rethinking the Role of Editors,’ advising the editors to perform their responsibilities ethically, urging them further to always present issues that could help in solving conflict.
He said media houses should be concerned about conflict that may result in violence, saying that editors could mediate on that, reminding them that good journalism is always bound by established codes that check excesses of irresponsible journalism in the society, reiterating that ethical laws are designed to enhance good practices.
“The concern of editors is looking at issues from the professional point of view. The aim is to ensure integrity of the news and the truth of the matter in the society. Thus an editor should explain and investigate the truth,” said he.
Also responding to other issues, Dr. Dalhatu Sani Yola, a university Don from the Department of Political Science, Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, who made a presentation yesterday at the conference on ‘Role of Editor in Enforcing and Promoting Accountability,’ explained that the nation’s laws should be respected by all citizens.
He said even those in power are subject to law and sanction, urging the media to question the immunity clause that shields certain people in power, stressing that issues should be handled in a very transparent manner.
He noted that some actions of political actors in the nation have been identified among factors that are weakening its democracy as such journalists should handle their duties as the fourth estate of the realm by always doing the needful.
Earlier in his presentation, a Professor of Media and Cultural Communication and former Vice Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, who made a presentation on ‘The Media and the Task of Consolidating Nigeria’s Democracy: A Critical Analysis of How Far, How Fair and Outlining an Agenda for the Future,’ set two agenda for future journalism.
Prof. Adamu, who spoke extensively on the topic, said the future of the nation’s media should based on competence and digital skills where a forum of young people in the profession would be created, while the second agenda is on digital skills and literacy, which the media must embrace to succeed in future.