Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has urged journalists to use their profession to promote national cohesion rather than a tool to fan ember of discord.
He Obasanjo made the plea in Abeokuta at the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) National Summit, themed, “The Media and National Unity’’.
Obasanjo, who noted that Nigeria’s strength and greatness lies in its unity and national cohesion, urged the media to champion the call for unity in diversity.
The former President described the U.S. as one of the greatest countries in the world and one of the most diverse in ethnicity, race and religion.
He, however, noted that the greatness of the U.S. was rooted in its diversity which he said was being utilised to its advantage and promoted by its media.
The former President said that the institutions for societal control were increasingly becoming weak in Nigeria.
He, therefore, called on the media to check the excesses of governments and those in positions of authorities.
“The Nigerian press should play important roles in promoting various cultures and enhancing integration.
“The media as a watchdog must play a significant role in scrutinising public policies.
“It should provide credible sources as initial leads to mismanagement, nepotism and corrupt practices.
“The press should mobilise the masses to strengthen the democratic process and play a crucial role in promoting a culture of tolerance and mutual co-existence, ‘’the former President said.
According to Obasanjo, journalists are now better positioned to promote national unity with advances in information and communication technology tools.
He said that with the advent of cable television, the media was no longer confined to electronic equipments like radio and television.
“Now, social media has taken over and we are all witnesses to its effect. In a matter of seconds, information is passed around the world at the click of a button,’’ he said.
Obasanjo, however, said that the Nigerian press must jettison bias and prejudices by embracing objectivity in order to be effective.