By Henry Umoru – Lokoja
The Senate has raised the alarm that the ship of the media is sinking very fast and warned that if something drastic was not done to revive it, it will totally capsize.
The Senate has however stressed the need for value re-orientation to be the major concern in the practice of Journalism in Nigeria as consonance with the 1999 constitution as amended.
Speaking yesterday in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital when he delivered a paper at the 2020 Senate Press Corps Retreat organised by the leadership of the Senate Press Corps with the theme, “Democracy in a Federation: Roles of Media, States, and Parliaments, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, All Progressives Congress, APC Osun Central said, “The ship of the media has been sinking very fast and something drastic has to be done before it totally capsizes.
“There is a need for this retreat to further address its self on a rethinking on how the press can perform its role as the first estate of the realm.
“From my own limited scope, not being a trained expert in this field, I will offer some suggestions based on my personal experience and observation in public service that could be helpful in making the media deliver on its watchdog role of ensuring accountability and transparency in governments.
Basiru, who presented a paper on Governance: How watchful are the watchdogs in ensuring Accountability and Transparency in Nigeria decried the sinking nature of the media in Nigeria, said, There is the need to rediscover the values that make the profession to be qualified as the fourth estate of the realm of the society as stipulated in section 22 of the 1999 constitution, which upholds responsibility and accountability of the government of the people.
“It creates an obligation for the press to uphold equitable principles, that ensures education, economic justice, and gender conducive policies.”
Senator Basiru who represented the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that the media was also expected to uphold national ethics as contained in section 23 of the 1999 constitution.
The Senator who listed the ethics to include discipline, integrity, the dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance, and patriotism, said that there must be a reversal of the dangerous trend of making the media a mere commercial venture, noting that the media have a constitutional role to the society beyond commercial motives.
Basiru who advocated for training and knowledge acquisition of media professionals to deliver on their constitutional mandate, said? “Another observed need for the contemporary press is training and capacity developments.
“Journalists need to be traineed in the area of governance, administrative procedures,legislative processes, exercise of oversight functions public finance management laws,
“This knowledge is very essential in performing the watchdog functions.”
According to him, the right questions and correct conclusion could not be asked and drawn on the aforementioned areas by media professionals without requisite knowledge and understanding of the areas.
“The need for training and capacity developments can not be overemphasized, if the press must be an effective watchdog,”Basiru said.
He advised the media to cultivate the habit of acquiring personal and professional knowledge as the profession requires training, capacity development to expose the inefficiency in the system of governance, just as he urged the media to focus on the substance of news reporting instead of sensentionalism, especially on headlines.
This, he said was the only way to function accordingly as the watchdog of the society.
According to him, sensationalism erodes the integrity and credibility of the media, by creating doubts on the quest by the press to ensure accountability in government, adding that it was time the media rededicated its self to proper investigative journalism with necessary thoroughness that focuses on the substance of findings in relation to how inefficiency, waste corruption among others could be exposed.
The Senator who noted that there was the need to ensure professionalism, as many people in the press are not professionals in the trade, said that there was the need to revisit adherence of professionalism to Journalism practice.
He also said there was also a need to review the current code of ethics of the profession to ensure accomplishments of the watchdog role of the press.
In his remarks, the Clark to National Assembly, Mr Amos Olatunde in said there was a need for proper reporting of the activities of the National Assembly.
He urged the Senate Press Corp to continue to partner with the National Assembly to further promote democratic practice in the country.
He, however, urged the media to continue to ensure that principles of objectivity, fairness, and balancing were reflected in the reportage of activities of the National Assembly.
Earlier, Chairman, Senate Press Corp, James Itodo in his opening remarks said there was a need for a dissection of the country, particularly on the required symbiotic relationship between democracy and development as obtained in developed nations.
According to Itodo, the topics lined up for presentation by resource persons at the retreat would provoke discussions on how to further reposition Nigeria and accelerate the journey to nationhood.