A don has called on journalists to be professional and honest in their reportage of the 2023 elections, describing the role of the media during the elections as a vital part of democracy and an indisputable watchdog of the Constitution.
Prof. Olumuyiwa Popoola, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo State, South-west Nigeria, stated this while delivering a lecture during the celebration of the 2022 Press Week of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Information Chapel (NUJIC), Oyo State.
The event which was held at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, was themed “2023: The Role of Media as Watchdog and Gatekeeper in the General Elections.”
Prof. Popoola, who was represented by Dr. Matthew Oni, Senior Lecturer, Department of Communications and Media, ACU, Oyo, emphasized that as the watchdog and gatekeeper of the 2023 General Elections, the media, operating in a familiar terrain, would be discharging its legitimate duty.
This duty, he said, has been guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and validated by the UN General Assembly resolution, among other legal articles, which support freedom of information.
“The media does not exist in a vacuum and it is this contextual existence that impacts its functions in terms of effectiveness and fair news.
“The media cannot function optimally without a reasonable degree of freedom.
“Your duty as a journalist should, however, be guided by the various laws and the ethics guiding your profession.
“Journalists should realize that functioning as watchdogs and gatekeepers implies that they should be as blameless as possible,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of NUJIC, Comrade Ismail Fasasi, urged journalists to be more professional and refrain from reporting fake, unfounded, defamatory and scandalous news.
He charged them to always verify information and not report issues that would cause violence before, during and after elections.
Comrade Fasasi urged members to continue to support his administration as their contributions would go a long way in repositioning NUJIC.
“When I and my executive members took over the mantle of leadership in October last year, we pledged that our administration will rest on four major programmes:
“These include restoration of the vibrancy that has been the pride of our chapel; improved welfare packages for members; capacity-building and training for members, as well as promotion of collective responsibility, integrity and accountability.
“I am glad to inform our guests that all these promises have been kept since our first day in office,” Fasasi noted.
On his part, the NUJ Chairman, Oyo State Council, Comrade Ademola Babalola, who was represented by the Vice-Chairman, Comrade Seye Ojo, extended his appreciation to the attendees, disclosing that the new administration in the NUJ Oyo State Chapter would deliver more dividends to the community of journalists.
One of the awardees at the event, the Executive Secretary of the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, Dr. Sola Akande, who dedicated his award to the people, expressed appreciation for the award and enjoined citizens of the state to take the Health Insurance Scheme more seriously.
“The Insurance Scheme is set up to reach most people, especially the poor. And we have various platforms on which we are reaching them.
“Our conventional scheme, the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, the fund by His Excellency, the Oyo State governor from his own pocket is to provide health insurance for the poor, the vulnerable, the indigent in the society and they are the champions,” said Akande.
Others given awards were the Oyo State House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, Hon. Muhammad Fadeyi; the Commissioner for Information, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun; and the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Nureni Adeniran.
Also honoured were the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa; the Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Mr. Tunde Momoh and the Accountant-General of Oyo State, Alhaji Abdul Gaffar Bello.
The event, which had in attendance the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, as the Royal Father of the day, was also graced by government functionaries, politicians, technocrats, educationists and other traditional leaders.