By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has cautioned media organisations against fanning the embers of disunity through their reports and editorials.
Obasanjo also enjoined the media to work in collaboration with the government in fighting the various challenges facing the country.
The former President, who spoke at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) National Summit held at the Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta expressed worries that the unity of the country was under serious threat.
The three-day summit is entitled: ‘The Media and National Unity’ has over 400 delegates across the country converge on Abeokuta for the summit.
Represented by a former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, Obasanjo said the media must ensure objectivity and fairness at all times, urging them to take the lead in the march towards ensuring greater national integration and development.
His words, “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria being so fractured in the feeling of oneness and belonging by the citizenry. In the last four months, we have an average of twenty hotspots across the country with huge potential for national disintegration.
“The media should support the efforts of government in fighting internal security challenges. The Press should mobilise the masses to strengthen the democratic process and play a crucial role in promoting a culture of tolerance, non-violence and mutual co-existence.
“For me, this Summit will only be successful if we find a niche for the Press in our march to ensuring greater national cohesion, especially at this time in our history.
“Our strength as a nation lies in our unity and national cohesion and I want to entreat you (media) to begin to preach the gospel of unity in diversity and unity of purpose and cohesion.”
“One of the greatest countries in the world is the United States of America. It is also one of the most diverse in ethnicity, race and religion. Its greatness is rooted in its diversity which is being utilised to advantage and actively promoted by the American press. I believe we can learn a lot from this regard.
“Your role should be to spread love instead of cultivating hatred. In the final analysis, the media which has been entrusted into your hands is a formidable tool for national cohesion if well used. If it is used negatively, it has the capacity to destroy a nation and cause mayhem of unfathomable proportions. The choice is yours to make and to unmake.