Speech Delivered By President Of The Nigerian Guild Of Editors, Mustapha Isah, At The North-West Town Hall Meeting On January 19, 2022 At Tahir Guest Palace, Kano

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  • Posted by: Imoh Robert


I’m delighted  to welcome all of you to this Town Meeting with the theme ” Agenda Setting for Sustainable Development”

This is the second in the series with the first one held in Lagos for the Southwest zone under the NGE/US Embassy capacity building programme for editors.

The pertinent question we want to find answers to is: What role should the media play in setting the agenda that would lead to a sustainable democratic culture in Nigeria? I will come to that later.

READ ALSO: Remarks by U.S. Mission Spokesperson Jeanne Clark Democracy Town Hall, Kano, January 19, 2022.

Section 22 of the 1999 constitution says ” the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the media should at all times be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. This section gives the media the enormous responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people.

How well has the media in Nigeria played this role?. This Town Meeting is expected to assess our performance and suggest ways for improvement.

All aspects of   good governance are facilitated by a strong and independent media.

How free is the Nigerian media to perform this role? I asked this question because it is only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticize public policies and  actions can good governance can  take root.

Freedom of the media allows for the creation of a public space in which a wee wide range of debates and expression of variety of viewpoints can take place.

A free and critical press is essential for the growth and development of any democracy.

The media as a watchdog of society owes it as a duty to monitor governance and hold public office holders accountable to the people who elected them.

Good governance is simply an essential framework which serves as a means of achieving wider goals , including security of life and property ( which is the primary goal of government , according to the 1999 constitution), prosperity and the general well-being of the citizenry.

Journalists are pat of the society and stand to also benefit from good governance if provided. So, it won’t be misplaced priority if our profession devotes to promoting good governance.

Now, let’s talk about the role of the media in setting agenda for sustainable democratic culture and deepening of  the democratic space.

One of the major roles of the media is agenda setting. The more stories the media do on a particular subject, the more importance the audience will attach to it.

Maxwell McCombs and Donaki Shaw in their research in 1972 on the US 1968 presidential election concluded that editors played an important role in shaping political reality. According to them, the mass media determine the importance issues for campaign.

Can the media in Nigeria shape  the political reality in the country? If the answer is yes; how then can this be achieved?

Another author, Stanley Baran wrote in 2002 and I quote ” the media may not tell us what to think, but the media certainly can tell us what to think about”

What is currently dominating   headlines in the media  on the 2023 general elections is zoning , power rotation , as well as religious and ethnic sentiments.  This is the agenda of the politicians. Must the media allow these politicians to set the agenda for us? I think it should be the opposite.

As the politicians talk about zoning, we , I mean the media, should remind them that we are more interested in the issues of development,  education, insecurity, youth unemployment and poverty ravaging the nation and other issues affecting the common man.

We want to hear from you how well we have performed this agenda setting role . We are open to suggestions on how  we can improve on our performance.

I won’t end this speech without saying a special thank you to the US government through its Embassy in Nigeria in making this event possible. The Nigerian Guild of Editors is  indeed very grateful for your support.

Dear colleagues, special guests and students here present, we are here to hear  from you.

A special thank you to the lead speaker at this Town Hall meeting, Professor Kamilu Sani Fagge, former Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences , Bayero University, BUK, Kano.

I thank all of you for coming and I wish all of us fruitful deliberations.


Author: Imoh Robert

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