The Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) has admonished the media to stay true to its constitutional duty of holding government accountable to the people, thereby promoting democracy, peace and development.
ACSPN made the admonition in a communiqué, issued at the end of its 8th annual conference which held in Rivers State.
Speakers at the conference also unanimously submitted that the media should not shirk its constitutional responsibility so as not to endanger democracy.
One of the speakers at the conference, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha, group head of Corporate Communications at Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Fertiliser Ltd, urged journalists across the country to uphold the roles assigned to them in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to engender sustainable peace and unity in the country.
Delivering a paper titled; ‘The Role of the Mass Media in Accountable Governance and Sustainable Peace in Society’ Dr. Nkwocha reminded the audience of the provisions of section 22 that state: “The press, radio television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
On the basis of this, he said some of the fundamental objectives that the mass media should uphold include the provision of section 23 which states that the national ethics shall be “discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism”.
According to Dr. Nkwocha journalists should be courageous enough to draw government attention to the fundamental objectives to reduce agitations of marginalisation and enhance peace in the country. He therefore enjoined the ACSPN and UNESCO to organise workshops or seminars for journalists on.crisis reporting and peace building reporting skills.
On his part, President of ACSPN and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Prof Umaru Pate, said while the constitutional role of the media to hold government accountable was not in doubt factors militating against the effective performance such as the issues of poor funding, competition from social media, safety of journalists and decline in media credibility, among others, should be urgently addressed.
In line with the theme of the conference: ‘Media and Citizens Participation in Governance for Accountability and Peace in the Society’, Vice Chancellor, Rivers State University, Prof. Nlerum Sunday Okogbule said the media should ensure that elected leaders abide with the provision of chapter 2 of the constitution, which defines the primary purpose of government as the promotion of the security and well-being of the people.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, also urged the media to focus on how the absence of positive values in national life has eroded development in all spheres.
Mr. Nsirim advised the media to promote the philosophy of leaving a positive legacy to avoid jeopardizing the future of the next generation.
Among the 14-point resolution proposed by ACSPN to enhance the capacity of the media to promote democracy, peace and development was that, “Media organisations should explore new business models to address the challenges of funding; and Journalists should advocate for media development fund that should support media organisations.”