From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Ahead of 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, has challenged practicing journalists across the country on the need to adhere strictly to the ethics of their profession in their reportage.
The presidential spokesperson, made the call in his lecture titled “The Media and News Reporting in an Election Year” as Guest Speaker at the 2018 Press Week Grand Finale of Kogi Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Lokoja.
According to him, “the media is going to be crucial to whatever happens to the country before and after the election” adding that the country would be better for it if the media displayed and upheld the tenets of the profession.
“The General elections are less than 200 days away in our country. And how the media reports between now and then will have great impact on how things turn out”
He said that the outcome of the 2019 General Elections would depend on how the media acquits itself during the exercise whether the conduct would be peaceful, free, and fair.
“Whether the election would be violence-free and flawless and lead to the enthronement of the best hands in different positions at all levels and whether the country would remain one entity or be further fragmented depended on the media.
Adesina urged media practitioners to beware of the deadly duo of fake news and hate speech.
He described fake news as made-up information, concocted, without any authentication and fiction masquerading as news.
Adesina noted that very close to the phenomenon of fake news was hate speech, saying that the duo could best be described as Siamese twins.
Hate speech, he said, aimed to generate hate, demean, demonize and de-market.
“By the time fake news and hate speech team up, a huge bomb is waiting to explode. It can consume a nation, as we have seen in places like Rwanda, Kenya, and many others”, he added.
Adesina therefore urged journalists to imbibe both global and Nigerian journalism ethics, not to push out toxic unsubstantiated information and concoctions but fact cross -checked before publication.
In his goodwill message, Mr Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello, urged journalists to embark on self-audit or self- check to come out with facts and figures in their reportage.
Also speaking, Mr Wilson Bako, Vice President, NUJ, Zone D, said that the country was at a crucial stage and urged journalists not to allow anybody or situation to push them into publishing libelous stories.
Dr John Alabi, a management consultant and lecturer with Kogi State University (KSU), Anyigba, also presented a paper on “Harnessing the Inland Waterways for Economic Prosperity” at the occasion.