Media professionals have called on the political class in Nigeria to shun violence, embrace peace, and exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship whenever they loose at the polls.
This position was upheld at the just concluded Public Lecture of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) under the theme “Post Election Nigeria: Paths To National Restoration & Peace”, which held at the Combo Hall of LTV on Wednesday in Lagos.
In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Lagos State Council, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi said: “The 2023 General Elections have brought different issues in its aftermath as a number of court cases are still being pursued against the election outcome.
“Nigeria has a long history of violence during elections which sadly manifested again in 2023.
“Closely related to violence was the suppression of voters, which is also known as deliberate disenfranchisement of eligible voters.
“The increased use of technology in Nigerian elections has reduced the kind of rigging that was traditional; such as ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, over voting and alteration of results.”
Ajayi further revealed that insufficient voter education and logistical challenges were some of the grey areas of the 2023 General Elections.
“At the Post-Election Review of the 2023 General Elections with Media Stakeholders recently in Lagos, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said ” there were many positive things that came out of the 2023 elections in spite of many challenges,” he said.
The NUJ Chairman affirmed that efforts should be made to address the lapses of the 2023 elections for better outcome in subsequent elections in order to chart a path for restoration and peace in the country.
On his part, the Chairman of the Occasion and Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Newspapers, Mr. Martins Oloja urged Nigerians to be hopeful of a better country.
“National Orientation is key for us to believe in ourselves and Nigeria. Although, the journey to total restoration may be far but we need to have faith in our country and profession,” he advised.
Oloja said Journalism remains the best profession in the world because the media is capable of calling the three arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) to order whenever the need arises.
Oloja revealed that the major responsibility of the media is to build content for restoration, peace and not to be blown away with politricks.
The guest Speaker, Prof. Sunday Alawode, Dean, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Lagos State University (LASU), tasked Journalists to be patriotic in discharging their duties as an ill motivated story can tear the country apart.
“Elections should not be seen as war in Nigeria. Loosers should be able to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship because they can win some other time.
“As journalist we should build a Nigeria of our own dreams that we can bequeath to our children.
“Government should be about meeting the needs of Nigerians and not for furthering personal gains,” he added.
The University Don who acknowledged that Rome was not built in a day, said it will require the collective responsibility of the citizenry to restore Nigeria to a peaceful and progressive nation.
The Scholar urged government to speedily tackle corruption, poverty and insecurity in order to confront some of the challenges bedeviling Nigeria.
“Nigeria needs strong institutions to move forward just as we also need to hold people accountable to the Government,” Alawode explained.
He urged media owners to secure Insurance cover for journalists, as many lives have been lost on the job, leaving the family of the deceased hopeless.
General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio, Mr. Tayo Akanle, reiterated the need for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians. “Without peace, unity and tolerance, it will be hard for us to progress as a nation,” Akanle echoed.
A Panel of Discussants comprising the President, Guild of Online Publishers, Ms Maureen Chigbo; Former Deputy Editor-in-Chief, News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Peter Dada, and Director Public Affairs, Lagos State Government, Mr. Shina Odunuga took time to respond to questions from some attendees at the event.
Other dignitaries at the event were General Manager, Radio Lagos/Eko FM, Mr. Jide Lawal; General Manager, LTV, Olori Adesola Kosoko; some leaders of the Union such as Otunba Gbenga Onayiga; and former National Trustee of NUJ Sylvester Okereke, amongst others.
The Planning Committee