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Published On: Mon, Dec 2nd, 2019

Fake news, hate speech bills draconian, have no place in democracy -NGE

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By Ese Awhotu

The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE has expressed concern over the proposed fake news and hate speech bills and drew the attention of both the National Assembly and the Federal Government to the fact that draconian legislations have no place in Nigeria’s democracy.
The editors also noted that Nigeria’s dwindling economic fortune had contributed to the distress in the media industry and there was need for the government to overhaul its economic architecture in order to reflate the sagging economy and increase the revenue streams of the nation.
This was the fall out of a meeting of the members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital, from November 27 to December 1, 2019, to deliberate on the theme: A Distressed Media: Impact on Government, Governance and the Society.”
A statement by Mustapha Isah President and Mary Atolagbe General Secretary, said the “meeting was a
high profile gathering which had the entire cabinet of the Sokoto State government in attendance. The state’s Executive Governor, Rt. Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, declared the event open.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of the conference, chaired by the former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, the NGE also canvassed the need for diversification, improved funding, collaboration, specialised journalism education programmes, newsroom re-engineering among other innovations necessary for revenue generation and sustenance of media businesses.
The NGE emphasised the need for serious capital injection into the media industry to overcome under capitalization and dearth of media businesses.
It also identified ownership interference as a key factor militating against free operation of the media and therefore advised owners of both public and private media organizations to pay more attention to facilitating the smooth operations of the media as truly business outfits.
However, the editors condemned all dictatorial tendencies against the media and stressed the need to collectively fight against all media abuses by non-professionals; and frowned at all attempts to punish conventional media for the wrongs of non-professionals on the social media platforms.
NGE called for the release of all detained journalists across the country, stating that democracy thrives better in countries that cherish and promote media freedom.
This is as it resolved to set up a committee to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and come up with a Compendium to showcase its activities since inception.
Meanwhile, the NGE ratified the election of Mr. Mustapha Isah as the substantive President of the Guild, following the appointment of Mrs Funke Egbemode as a Commissioner in the State of Osun.
NGE commended the government of Sokoto State for the rapid growth and acceleration of infrastructure development across the state, as well as the widespread human capital development programmes in the areas of free education, sponsorship of indigent students regardless of their origin as well as initiatives for improved Medicare for the people.
It also expressed its appreciation to the Governor of Sokoto State for hosting and supporting the Guild to have a successful conference.

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