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Stop massaging politicians’ ego, set devt agenda, scholars tell Nigerian media

By Obinna Nwaoku, Port Harcourt
27 May 2022   |   3:42 am
Nigerian media have been accused of not asking politicians, aspirants or candidates, probing questions regarding their campaign promises.

Nigerian media have been accused of not asking politicians, aspirants or candidates, probing questions regarding their campaign promises.

The media have also been called up to move campaign messages away from ethno-religious tendencies to development-related issues towards guiding the electorate on how to vote.

These issues came to the fore at the 72nd International Communication Association (ICA), West Africa region that kicked off in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Prof. Charles Okigbo of North Dakota State University, U.S.; Prof. Bala Musa of Azusa Pacific University, U.S.; Prof. Muhammad Musa of UAE University, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and Dr. Gregory Ugbo of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State spoke on: ‘Media Coverage of Nigerian Elections: Recurring Themes from 2015 and 2019 Presidential Elections with the 2023 Campaign in View’.

Media scholars and practitioners agreed that the media had focused more on politicians and their messages and promises, which had no empirical data at the expense of the electorate that the media should guide in making wise electoral choices on election day. They argued that it was not good enough as part of the solution and agenda-setting of the media in a developing country like Nigeria.

A panelist, Mr. Obo Effanga, said no politician had so far stated categorically how he or she would address the issue of education with universities shut for over 100 days now. None, he also argued, had addressed how exactly they would source for money to fix healthcare or stop importation of refined fuel.

Another panelist, Anni Abdulsalaam, charged media to redefine its role away from only putting out information about politicians but to project what the electorate needs. She asked the media to be solution providers rather than merely regurgitating only on what politicians say.

At the opening, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Owunari Georgewill, commended the convener and doctoral candidate of the university, Ekaete George, for bringing ICA West Africa regional hub to Port Harcourt.

Georgewill reiterated his university’s focus on being the hallmark of a global community of scholarship as one of the best-ranked universities in the world. He called on scholars and practitioners to take advantage of the conference to deepen communication studies and practice to bridge conversations gaps.