BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI
Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has called for more proactive steps to curtail the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency, which it said impacts negatively on all Nigerians.
Acknowledging the efforts of security agencies to combat and commending fresh attempts to resolve the violent situation of the insurgents, the editors urged President Goodluck Jonathan and other elected officials to put in place extra measures to tackle security problems and give succour to citizens
The call was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the eighth all Nigeria Editors Conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State with the theme “The Nigerian Editor and National Security”.
In an eight-point resolution signed by the NGE President, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, who is also the Editor-in-Chief/General Manager, Publications, Vanguard Newspapers and Mr. Femi Adesina, Chairman, Planning Committee, they however noted that national security was the responsibility of all Nigerians.
After exhaustive deliberations, the conference noted that “without prejudice to the obligations of the security agencies to do their constitutional duty of preserving law and order, there was the need for openness and transparency with the rules of engagement in all anti-terror activities, while editors should ensure fairness, balance and accuracy in the presentation of stories.
The editors listed other threats to national security as illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping, armed robbery, poverty, illiteracy, injustice, unemployment, religious intolerance, porous borders and proliferation of arms.
The Guild urged President Goodluck Jonathan and other elected officials to put in place extra measures to tackle these problems and give succour to citizens. Such steps should include the provision of the right security infrastructure that can help the various security agencies to keep ahead of criminal elements in the society.
“It underscored the agenda-setting role of the media and urged all editors to live up to this responsibility, especially as it concerns national security.
The Guild also canvassed a continuous engagement between the security agencies and the media on ways to tackle insecurity, while the media should also improve on its capacity to report conflict situations.
“Participants decried the seeming absence of inter-governmental cooperation in delivering democracy dividends to the populace. It called on all the three tiers of government to collaborate and dialogue on the best ways of meeting the demands of the public and preservation of law and order.
“The conference asked the editors to continue to be in the vanguard of promoting national unity and integration and be wary of those who seek to use the media to canvass issues that divide the nation.”
The conference however, applauded the developmental strides of Governor Godswill Akpabio, and also commended the people of Akwa Iborn State for their warm hospitality.
The conference was chaired by former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba while the keynote address was delivered by the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Declaring the conference open, Senate President David Mark urged the editors to strike a balance between the quest for profit in business and the need to safeguard National Security. He maintained that although there was no standard list of what constitutes National Security, the Freedom of Information Act had provided a guide for journalists in dealing with the subject matter.
Mark described the media as an important tool of statecraft and national survival and advised editors to be careful, fair and conscious of National Unity, in their reportage.
The host governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, urged the editors not to sacrifice national unity on the altar of breaking news.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, implored the editors to come up with suggestions on how to handle the current security situation. He urged the editors not to provide oxygen of undue publicity to insurgents who try to instill fear and precipitate crises in the country.
Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Jonah Jang of Plateau State, Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Tele Ikuru and representatives of Borno, Kano and Edo States, also took time ‘to share experiences on state-specific security challenges and progress reports with the editors; while Mr Tunde Lemo, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, used the occasion to address the editors on the currency restructuring of the bank.