2023: Experts urge media to reawaken political consciousness of electorate

By Ifeyinwa Okonkwo

Dr Tony Onyima, onetime Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Anambra has urged the media to reawaken the political consciousness of Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Onyima, who is a former Managing Director of the Sun Newspapers Group, made the call in Enugu on Wednesday at the Capacity Building Workshop for Editors in the South East.

He said the media should do this by interpreting the implication of their inaction on sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy.

”When fewer people participate in the political process, the quality of representative democracy diminishes.

”In fact, statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicate that since 2007, there has been continuous low voter turnout at each general elections indicating that perhaps Nigerians are not civic minded.

”The combined total votes recorded in all the presidential elections between 1999 and 2019 is 96,306, 249 votes. This is less than the 1.3 billion votes recorded by the 2021 BBNaija reality show,”.

He also said the media must make efforts to fight fake news through the integrity and credibility of their news content.

Onyima emphasized the need for the media to promote National unity and cohesion by mobilizing the people to participate actively in the democratic processes.

”The media should hold governments accountable especially in budget and project tracking as well as use the Freedom of Information Act to strengthen governance.

The media consultant noted that “journalism is what maintains democracy and it is the force for progressive social change”.

Presenting a paper entitled, “The Role of Editors in Preserving Democracy “, Prof Chinyere Okunna, first female Professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria, urged journalists to remain resilient irrespective of the nation’s challenges.

She urged journalists to be courageous, ethical and shun self censorship in their reportage saying, “we must muster courage to do the right thing in the interest of democracy,”.

In his contributions, Mr Azu Ishiekwene, Editor-in-Chief, Leadership Newspaper, charged editors to always cross check their facts before going to press.

”Fact checks within and outside newsrooms, have been instrumental in combating disinformation especially in periods of considerable upheaval,” he said.

The two day workshop organised by the Nigeria Guild of Editors in collaboration with the US Embassy is attended by editors and senior journalists from the South East zone. (NAN)