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Role of media profession in Nigerian democracy

By Balarabe Shehu Ilelah
21 December 2021   |   2:42 am
Permit me to start by thanking the organiser of this colloquium and for inviting me as the father of the occasion. I particularly bring to you warm words of encouragement...

Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

Permit me to start by thanking the organiser of this colloquium and for inviting me as the father of the occasion. I particularly bring to you warm words of encouragement, solidarity and unflinching support from the Management and Staff of the National Broadcasting Commission.

The theme of this meeting, “The Role Of Media Profession In Democracy In Nigeria,” is quite apt. The place of the media profession in democracy cannot be over-emphasised. The media is central to the development of any democracy and democratic society.

This has been generally acknowledged in developed societies to the extent that the media has often been described as the fourth Estate of the Realm.

Nigeria, like other democracies, taking into cognisance the role of the media in the advancement of a progressive society, has gone to the extent of giving constitutional backing to it. The 1999 Constitution did not only guarantee every Nigerian freedom of expression and to own, establish and operate any media for the dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions, but also gave the responsibility to the media to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people.

In line with this, the NBC was established by the National Broadcasting Commission Act Cap N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, because the people and government of Nigeria were responding to a global phenomenon, broadcasting all over the world had become a critical element of good governance, social responsibility and enterprise. This brought about plurality in the Broadcast industry.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as we discuss today, let us not forget that the media is there to help progress our democracy and not to destroy it. The media must deliberately avoid creating chaos, fears and crises by playing down on what divides us, and promote what unites us. Hate speeches and fake news must be avoided, if we are to build a strong democratic society.

The Nigeria Broadcasting Code cleverly captured some of the essential components of the Media profession that would help in this regards.

Section 0.2.2.4 states that media professionals must create and Promote political awareness (including information on electoral process) amongst the people in order to foster a democracy.

The media must inculcate the spirit of tolerance of all shades of opinion, and promote social justice based on the responsibilities and rights of the individuals in the society.