By Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€” President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye yesterday challenged the Federal Government to ensure that media practitioners are involved at the formative stage of critical policies to enable them monitor and moderate the process with a view to ensuring a fair and equitable society.
Mr. Adefaye who spoke in Abuja at orientation workshop on Public Policy: Working with the Media and NGOs on Policy Engagement organised by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), explained that, that kind of collaboration will enable both parties build capacity to move the nation forward.
He explained that, â€œit is a collective interest, it is not a favour to the media. It is actually to involve media people just as the civil society organisations (NGOs) are asking that they should be involved from the word go in the maiden plan.
Mr. Adefaye pointed out that, the NGE has made this request to the people at the highest level in the country, who including President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, Senate President, David Mark Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.
According to him, â€œwe (NGE) had made this request to the people at the highest level, the Presidency, Senate, the Speaker, and the SGF.Â We do hope that things would change, they made promiseâ€.
â€œOur thinking is that, it will then be easier for us from the word go because we are involved to make allowances for some of these development institutes, whether in education or health otherwiseâ€.
Some of us he said â€œhave over the ten years set up Health Desk deliberately because we appreciate the importance of reporting health, education in our national lives. And it is those interest really that sustained the pages, not their commercial value. But we think there is a lot that can be done in terms of collaboration between the NGOs, and the foundersâ€.
The Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers Limited pointed that, â€œwith that kind of appreciation we can then build capacity. I think if we build capacity, we will respect each other moreâ€.
In his remarks, Professor Osita Ogbu, former Economic Adviser to erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo, attributed failures in implementation of people orientated policies in the country to putting of wrong people in the position of authority.
Osita who noted that it is the sole responsibility of the Local Government Councils to provide basic education and primary healthcare to the people regretted that such services could not be attainable because people who are put in the position of authority at that level have failed to deliver their services to the people.
It is on that backdrop that he called on the National Assembly to ensure the passage of the Electoral Reform bill into law, which according to him, will give Nigerian the opportunity to elect the leader of their choice.
Arguing that whether the country will move forward or not is tied to the success and passage into the law, the electoral reform bill, Professor Osita, however tasked the National Assembly to ensure the original recommendations of the Justice Uwais panel is passed into law.
He said, we need genuine electoral reform to ensure that right people are elected to represent the people. If after four years in office you have not performed to the expectation of the people who elected you, the people will have the opportunity to vote you out of power and this could be only achieved if we have genuine electoral processâ€.
In her presentation, Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello blamed failures of policies in the country to the long time of military dictatorship in the country.
She regretted that most policies in the past we forced on Nigerian by the successive military regimes, which according to her have ruled the country for forty years out of its fifty years of independence.
Senator Obasanjo-Bello who whoever described democracy as a slow process, added that even at that, the legislative activities are too slow because of several military intervention in the governance of the country.
She submitted that, executive arm of government is buoyant because whether in military or civilian regime, â€œthe executive is always thereâ€.
â€œWe are not practicing democracy yet in Nigeria. When people asked for dividends of democracy and I asked which democracy? We are not yet practicing real democracy and that is why people are not getting the dividends of democracyâ€, she said.