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At NGE convention, Ganduje challenges media gatekeepers to promote national integration

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Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje addressing NGE during Gala Night

It was a forum that attracted veteran journalists and senior gatekeepers from media outfits across the country. The event was Nigerian Guild of Editors’ (NGE) biennial convention. The guild had chosen the ancient city of Kano for its confab on matters affecting the country’s corporate existence and national integration as well as challenges threatening the media as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

The chief host and Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who did not allow the opportunity of the gathering of newsmen to be lost without expressing his concerns on national issues, commended the media for its role in ensuring that the country’s unity is preserved.

While reminding the editors of supreme sacrifice journalists paid in the past to promote democracy in Nigeria, Governor Ganduje lamented the emerging discord in national polity.

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He noted that the tension in the country is a product of selfish interests that want the polity to disintegrate using the media to propagate their agenda.

While hosting members of the guild to a special gala night where new members were inducted, Ganduje, who is of the opinion that Nigeria has failed to take advantage of its ethnic differences to build development, enjoined editors to use their positions to promote national interest.

According to Ganduje, “As members of the media, you will agree with me that the level of national integration in our country is getting lower and lower by the day and as members of the guild, you have to do a lot of work.

“Stereotype is at the peak, religious sentiments, tribal and ethnic bigotries, all these put together are making Nigeria weaker and weaker. There is, no doubt, we have differences but we have failed as a people to realise that our differences are a huge advantage in a way.

“Having heterogeneous society is an advantage. Let me assure you that if all Nigerians were of one tribe, one religion and one culture, we would have more problems, an internal problem for that matter. But we can take advantage of diversity, where every ethnic group comes with inherent advantage, which when properly harnessed, will promote national development. And that is why America is very strong and great today, if you check history, you will realise that and it is because they succeeded in harnessing their differences.

“So, I think members of the guild have a lot to do in this regard but first of all, charity, they say, begins at home. Members of the media must be convinced that Nigeria’s unity must remain indivisible and that we must remain one entity. Any element of deviation in the society and by members of the society should be discouraged. Leaders could be faulty and wrong but should be guided because we can’t live without leaders, whether bad or good that seat cannot be left in vacuum,” Ganduje emphasised.

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Earlier, Professor of Media Society and Vice Chancellor, Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, Professor Umar Pate, in a paper titled, ‘The Media in COVID-19 Era: Challenges and Opportunities’, explained how the pandemic crippled media industry, which led to several journalists losing their jobs while decline in revenue generation further worsened the industry’s capacity to survive.

Besides, Professor Pate advocated the establishment of an intervention programme to save the media from total collapse as well as palliatives through tax holidays and provision of National Media Development Fund.

He also called on media managers to diversify their resources into digital and data driven journalism to survive the harsh economic reality.

He said that government needs to intervene and save the media so as to function well in the country’s democratisation process as well as appreciate the role of the media as exemplified in its classification as essential service during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Prof. Pate further said that confinement and social distancing measures during COVID-19 lockdowns led to the emergence of broadcast technologies like using zoom for virtual meetings. “Confinement has caused many changes that have accelerated the digital transition of the media, particularly broadcasters, readership declined in print but increased online,” Pate said.

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According to him, “the existing funding model of the media is collapsing, apparently, there is need to re-invent and re-design media businesses while still being coherent and consistent.”

He said that the media has to explore areas like subscriptions and others revenue generation models to survive.

Prof. Pate said the media needed to be developed and restructured instead of being trapped in old ways of doing things and use of outdated technology.

He added that it must adopt new technologies in management, gathering and processing of information as well as dissemination.

While re-emphasising the challenge of fake news, Pate said there is a need to promote media and digital literacy and critical thinking to be able to fight fake news.

He further stated that fighting it is not going to be by criminalising it but by preparing counter-narratives and equipping media organisations to be on time and challenge those that are engaged in fake news business with real technology. He added that the media must have better equipment, capacity and intelligence.

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