Fallouts From The Editors’ Conference

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The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) recently rose from the
8th All-Nigerian Edi-tors’ Conference at Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, with
far reaching suggestions that are tangential to the peace and unity of Nigeria.
The Theme of the Conference was: “The Nigerian Editor And National Security.”

The conference, which is the largest annual gathering of
mainstream media Editors in Nigeria x-rayed security challenges facing the
nation through the lens of many experts. They looked at the architecture of
terror,’ ‘the cost of insurgency’, understanding anti-terror laws’, and
‘reporting right, reporting safe’.

Having received briefing from experts on core issues that
would engender peace and stability, and promote national security, unity and
mutual co-existence, the Editors agreed to work in synergy with both government
and security agencies to guarantee and promote the corporate existence of
Nigeria.

The mind of the media community in Nigeria was eminently
captured in the communiqué where the Editors urged President Goodluck Jonathan
and other elected officials to evolve extra measures to tackle the many
problems  confronting the country.

They also suggested the proper equipping of various security
agencies to help place them ahead of criminal elements in the society, just as
they stressed the need for openness and transparency in engaging the
anti-terror agenda.

The Tide feels particularly impressed with the concerns
expressed by the Editors and the demonstration of a rare sense of commitment
and burning desire to  partner with
governments at all levels  with a view to
ensuring the social integration, security and sustainable development of
Nigeria.

We are persuaded that the media can greatly influence the
agenda for national peace and security as well as promote economic progress.
With the necessary encouragement from government, security agencies and the
society, the media can be a force to reckon with  in nation-building.

To achieve this national objective, it is imperative that
Federal and  States Governments do take
seriously, issues raised at the conference and factor – in suggestions and
recommendations made by the Editors. Government must make policies that would
promote peaceful co-existence in Nigeria, irrespective of the differences in
religion, tribe, ethnic affiliation or political persuasion.

While we think that the Federal Government and indeed
Governors, as States Chief Executives, need to genuinely collaborate among
themselves with a view to striking the right synergy on security matters. The
Tide also believes that it is expedient for governments at all levels to also
take the media into confidence on security matters through regular interface
with Editors.

To achieve the best results in this regard, however, Editors
in Nigeria must, rise above ethnic and religious sentiments in the discharge of
their duties in the overall interest of the unity, stability and corporate
existence of the country. This is more so because sections of the media in the
country have tended to serve other interests, lately as their reportage of
national events clearly shows.

That is why, we expect that the ethics of the journalism
profession and codes of practice be religiously followed and applied in such a
fashion that the core values of neutrality and objectivity are seen to have
been served in the work of the Editors. This way, the tasks of both government
and security agencies would have been made less cumbersome.

Even so, we insist that the Federal Government would be more
proactive and pragmatic in the application of intelligence for purposes of checkmating
security breaches, instead of exhibiting lack of political will to deal with
attempts to undermine national peace and security until it is too late.

We are aware that some other professional bodies in Nigeria
have taken up the issue of security challenges, in various degrees and
perspectives. That, we think, aptly underscores the true concerns of the people
on the need for government to deal with security concerns and quickly too.

Even so, the media have special influence that Nigeria may
need to fully exploit for national good. If the media that is able to make or
mar is treated as enemy or mere press boys,
the nation would get the views of mere press-boys, but if assisted to
develop, media will also attract the best brains required to proactively
mobilise the citizenry towards improved national consciousness, security and
patriotism.