Journalists covering the on-going National Conference in Abuja have been advised to be sensitive to Nigeria’s diversity and idiosyncrasies, with a view to building a truly united and cohesive country.
Veteran journalist and a delegate to the Conference, Mr. Ray Ekpu, said in Abuja on Friday that journalists must first understand the purpose of the conference and report events with the understanding that Nigeria must come out of its present dilemma characterized by ethnic and religious tension.
Ekpu stated this at a one day media roundtable organized by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for editors and correspondents covering the National Conference.
He said, “I would like journalists to show extreme sensitivity about the tough issues that this Conference will have to deal with. “How they cover controversial issues such as ethnicity, religion, structure of government, resource control, fiscal federation, rotational presidency, devolution of powers, etc., will determine whether we want a united country or not.”
Ekpu charged reporters to demonstrate patriotism, “show a little more sensitivity to the wrangling, the flashes of temper, the disputations and the partisan oratory that you may experience in the coverage of the Conference.”
He said when this happens, “You will be contributing your own quota to the efforts that the Conference will be making to solidify the unity, cohesion and integration of the country.”
Minister of Tourism and Culture, Chief Edem Duke described the Conference as the building block for the Nigeria of the future and that its success would no doubt reposition the country for accelerated growth and development.
In this regard, he said the Nigerian media remain very critical in the effort in view of its proven capacity to inform, educate, mobilize and influence opinions; and that the Conference and what it stands for calls for a higher sense of patriotism and professionalism by the media.
Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Mike Omeri said the media roundtable was put together to sensitise the media on the importance of their role as a veritable link between citizens and the National Conference.
It was also meant, according to him, to re-emphasise the need for patriotic agenda-setting and promotion of national interest in media reportage of the Conference; and create a forum for exchange of ideas on the Conference between the media and officials of the Conference.
“It is our firm belief at NOA that media coverage of the National Conference with objectivity and nationalism is the right thing to do, bearing in mind that posterity will judge us all by our contributions to nation-building at critical moments of our national history such as this.”
Head of Media and Communication at the National Conference, Mr. Akpandem James, said the media roundtable was put together as a reminder to journalists that they have a role as a group and as a people entrusted with the responsibility of building a sound society.
He appealed to journalists covering the Conference to do their job in such a manner that they are not harassed by people who may feel hurt by their reportage.