By Hillary Asemota
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, over the weekend called on the Nigerian media to continue to do more in making the country’s democracy virile.
This is as he commends journalists and media handlers for their roles in sustaining democratic tents especially since 1999, saying their involvement has impacted positively on the state.
According to the statement signed by Mr. Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to the Minister, quoted his boss as tasking the fourth estate of the realm on the challenges posed by the ever-advancing social dynamics, urging them to be abreast of the situation and work towards being on the side of the truth at all times.
The Minister said this in an address while receiving the Game changer Award courtesy: The Gazelle News (TGN) Media Network, on the occasion of its second anniversary in Lagos.
He said: “I must commend the media for their historic effort in de-colonisation and fight for Independence, the grim battle against military rule and call for the return of civil democratic rule and the advocacy for democratic consolidation since 1999.
“Their struggles were borne of deep patriotism, professionalism, public spiritedness and commitment to human emancipation.
“But democracy anywhere, the perceptive American political scientist, Samuel Huntington, warned us, is an unfinished business. The media should therefore re-examine themselves in light of new social development and the emergent challenges of statehood and democratisation, to see how relevant they have been and how they have abided with their professional calling and ethics.
“The coming of the new media of social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, electronic publications, self-publications and cable television has made news and information available in real time, largely removed censorship and control and extended the frontiers of information dissemination, but came with its own challenges.
“The first casualty is newspapers which get published latest in 24 hours, by which time most news are known and digested, except for when they get exclusive news or have informed commentaries and opinions.
“The second challenge is quality control for truth, ethics and grammar. ‘Facts are sacred, but comments are free’ is no longer a sacrosanct dictum in the media, especially New Media. Virtually anything goes, including nudity and pornography. The most damaging, of course, is the murder of truth. Worse still, the media, in the race for survival, often suborn their integrity on the altar of lucre. False allegations are published as news, hiding under the adverb ‘allegedly’ to avoid litigation. But the media should investigate claims and publish only verifiable facts and truth.
“The grim consequence of this is that the public can no longer absolutely rely on what comes from the media as true as some even contradict themselves by publishing an allegation today and then publish a counter allegation on the same issue the following day, without repudiating the earlier publication.
“These are some of the extant challenges the media would need to face and resolve to restore credibility and truly serve the public in the making of an informed society. I will commend the media still, because even with warts and all, our society will be worse off and would have descended into anarchy without them,” Aregbesola concluded.
Other recipients of Award for Good Governance are Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Governors Babangana Zulum (Borno), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun).
Other awardees at the event included Presidential Aspirant and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who won the Life Time Achievement Award with his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and Mr. James Faleke taking home the Politician of the Year award.
Senator Solomon Adeola, Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Abdulkarim Lawan, Hon. Tolulope Shadipe, Hon. Zainab Gimba and Hon. Miriam Odinaka took home the Lawmaker of the Year Award.
Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King, Chairman, LASUBEB, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulure, SSA, SDGs to President Muhammadu Buhari got Good Governance Award for Public Service while CSP Saheed Egbeyemi, Commander, Rapid Response Squad, Lagos State and DCP Tunji Disu, Commander, Intelligence Response Team of the Nigeria Police were honoured with Good Governance Award for Security while Mr. Babajide Kolade-Otitoju took home the Journalist of the Year Award.
The First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Dr. Abari Garba, Director General, National Orientation Agency NOA, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), delivered addresses at the event.
Mr. Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to the Minister, signed the Statement on behalf of his boss.