December 9, 2022
Media can change, set agenda for citizens’ Social Media

Media can change, set agenda for citizens’

By Usman Gwadabe


Prof. Kamilu Sani Fagge has dis-closed that media outfits in the country can be more responsive if they keep changing aspirations of citizens.


He made the disclosure while presenting a paper on ‘Assessing Media
Performance in Consolidating Nigeria’s Democracy: Citizens’ verdict and Outlining an Agenda for the Future’ during the ongoing Town Hall Meeting themed: ‘Agenda Setting Sustainable Democracy Culture’ organized by US Embassy of Nigeria in collaboration with Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) held at Tahir Guest Palace, Kano on Wednesday.
The Professor said: “agenda setting
theory reserves the right for the media to
serve as the watchdog of the society.

The media is shouldered with the responsibility to raise issues they consider vital, to the platform of public discourse and draw
the attention of the public to these issues.”


He added that to achieve this, there is need for constant training and re-training in order to keep the professionals abreast of modern methods.

“In this way, the tools of and strategies
of mass communication can be sufficient-
ly enhanced and strengthened to make the
media more responsive to the constantly
changing aspirations of the citizenry.
“For Nigerian media to be an efficient
and effective watchdog of the society, a
lot needs to be done.
“The media must not only live up to
its social responsibilities (to inform, edu-
cate and entertain) but also be the people’s
watchdog.
“In other words, the media should raise
issues they consider vital, to the platform
of public discourse and draw the attention
of the public to these issues.
“For instance, since the restoration of
democratic rule in 1999, democracy has
failed to translate into a responsible and
responsive government, i.e, government
that would: enhance the rule of law, jus-
tice, equity and equality of all before the
law; be transparent; be accountable to the
people; guarantee the security of the citi-
zens; ensure good life for the people by
providing basic social infrastructure in
the areas of health, housing, education,
electricity; provide enabling economic
environment in which all individuals
and groups can utilize their potentials in
achieving whatever they want to achieve
etc.
“The role of the media as the fourth es-
tate of the realm requires a new thinking,
in view of the rapidly changing nature of
the socio-economic and political chal-
lenges they have to grapple with.
“The media must take advantage of
the new ICT innovations to make its tasks
easier and efficient,” Prof. Fagge added.
He stressed that without the media
most corrupt politicians could not be ap-
prehended for prosecutions, appealing to
them to continue with the tempo.
In his welcome address, NGE Presi-
dent Mustapha Isah said the event was
second in the series with the first one held
in Lagos for the Southwest zone under the
NGE/US Embassy capacity building pro-
gramme for editors.
He said: “The pertinent question we
want to find answers to is: What role
should the media play in setting the agen-
da that would lead to a sustainable demo-
cratic culture in Nigeria?
“Section 22 of the 1999 constitution
says ‘the press, radio, television, and
other agencies of the media should at all
times be free to uphold the responsibility
and accountability of the government to
the people.’ This section gives the media
the enormous responsibility to hold the
government accountable to the people.
“How free is the Nigerian media to
perform this role? I asked this question
because it is only when journalists are free
to monitor, investigate and criticize public
policies and actions can good governance
can take root.
“One of the major roles of the media
is agenda setting. The more stories the
media do on a particular subject, the more
importance the audience will attach to it.
“What is currently dominating head-
lines in the media on the 2023 general
elections is zoning, power rotation, as
well as religious and ethnic sentiments.
“This is the agenda of the politicians.
Must the media allow these politicians to
set the agenda for us? I think it should be
the opposite.
“As the politicians talk about zoning,
we, I mean the media, should remind them
that we are more interested in the issues of
development, education, insecurity, youth
unemployment and poverty ravaging the
nation and other issues affecting the com-
mon man.
“I won’t end this speech without say-
ing a special thank you to the US govern-
ment through its Embassy in Nigeria in
making this event possible. The Nigerian
Guild of Editors is indeed very grateful
for your support,” the president stressed.
In her remarks, US Mission spokesper-
son, Jeanne Clark said: “We are grateful
to all journalists, politicians, academics,
and business leaders here with us today.
“Many of you here in attendance were
more than one hat. You’re activists and
advocate, humanitarian and human rights
defenders.
“We are proud to be here in Kano to-
day, for our second iteration of a town hall
meeting called to recognize the impor-
tance of a free media in a democracy, and
to more closely examine roles and respon-
sibilities as citizens and professionals in
strengthening democracy.
“The US is taking bold action in five
key areas of supporting free and indepen-
dent media, fighting corruption, bolstering
democratic reformers, advancing technol-
ogy for democracy and defending free
and fair election and political processes.
“Here in Nigeria, we have witnessed
some important development as well,
President Buhari began 2022 engaging the
media in two important interviews and the
long suspension of Twitter finally lifted.
“We need to work together to earn that
respect back by demonstrating that pro-
fessional media only publishes verified
facts, by clearly setting forth hypothesis
and doing the analytical work to evidence
when hunches become fact.
“Media needs to identify and address
bias before the public labels become per-
manent.
“We have long appreciated high qual-
ity Nigerian Journalism, which can be
found in every corner of Nigeria.
“We applauded efforts like the Open
Contract Reporting project of the Interna-
tional Center for Investigative Reporting
which provides essential tools, strategy,
and mentorship to journalists to better ex-
amine and question governmental waste.
“We at the U.S. Mission remain com-
mitted to standing with you as you em-
bolden democracy in Nigeria in the year
ahead.
“I thank you all for your participation
today and look forward to the opportu-
nity to learn of ongoing partnerships, en-
hanced networking and crucial mentoring
of the next generation,” she concluded.
Earlier, the NGE General Secretary,
Mr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren said the meeting
provided a platform to remind editors and
other media managers of the sacred duties
they are tasked to perform by the constitu-
tion on behalf of the citizens.
Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado
Bayero appreciated the choice of the state
for the meeting, calling on media to as-
sist in making the 2023 general election
hitch-free.
In his contribution, Prof. Auwalu
Hamisu Yadudu urged editors to be cau-
tious on publishing any story submitted
by a reporter without verification, appeal-
ing to them to recognize the nation diver-
sity on religion, tribe and ethnicity.
On his part, Kano State Commissioner
of Information, Malam Muhammad Gar-
ba, urged the editors to collaborate with
NUJ to revisit the issue for good salary
structure for journalists to ensure sustain-
ability of democracy.
One of the students from Bayero Uni-
versity, Kano, Aisha Dayyib Ibrahim said
youths are supposed to be guided rightly
by media so as to become patriotic citi-
zens, lamenting that the bad situation in
the country made many of them to prepare
for leaving the country for a better live.
In his remarks, the Managing Director
of Triumph Publishing Company, Malam
Lawam Sabo Ibrahim, said management
of state own media could contribute to-
wards minimizing control by owners,
stressing that even private media story
contents are regulated by owners.
Editor Umaru Ibrahim opined that if
they have a requisite qualification and
training, managers could do their job
without interference from owners.
Another stakeholder, Abdullahi Datti
said control of media posed a great danger
to democratic sustainability, lamenting
that most of the private stations are owned
by politicians with political motives.
Another student from Kano State Poly-
technic, Jimoh Oyize Blessing asked on
how accreditation of journalists could
sustain democracy.
Representative of Kano Police Com-
mand, Haruna Kiyawa said the security
agencies need support of media, advising
them to adherence strictly on profession-
alism.
Former President of NGE, Malam
Baba Halilu Dantiye said control of me-
dia depends on how someone navigates,
advising media to adhere to professional-
ism.
In his vote of thanks, NGE Deputy
President, Ali M. Ali thanked the partici-
pants for making the occasion possible,
advising journalists to make profession
ethics a guide to their jobs.

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