By Oladele Eniola
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has reiterated its commitment to defending and promoting the cause of democracy and press freedom in the country.The Guild expressed the view on Monday, in a communique issued at the conclusion of its town hall meetings and capacity building conferences taken round the six geo-political zones of the country.
It was signed by its president, Mr Mustapha Isah, and General Secretary, Mr Iyobosa Uwugiaren.
The NGE commended the United States Embassy in Nigeria for sponsoring the regional training workshops for 350 editors across the six geopolitical zones.It urged the Embassy to support step-down trainings for line editors and reporters.
According to the Guild, the training has made its members more equipped and energised to discharge their constitutional role of holding the government accountable to the people.
The NGE said that its members, in the run up to the 2023 general elections, would ensure the electorate is provided with credible information.“Editors have resolved to assist in ensuring that frivolous and unserious candidates, as well as those who have not demonstrated any capacity for leadership, are weeded out from the race.
‘’That ahead of the 2023 general election, editors should engage more with other stakeholders like civil society groups, the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies and others in deepening the democratic process.
‘’The editors should also ensure that the parties and their candidates are properly guided along issue-based campaigns and discourage campaigns anchored on exploring the ethnic, religious and regional divide that tend to put the country asunder’’, the communique read.
The editors resolved to explore the use of fact checking tools to verify stories as part of the process of erasing the credibility gap.They said that the step was necessary amidst increasing misinformation, disinformation and deliberate falsehood in cyberspace.
NGE urged the media to make use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) noting that it could assist in dealing with problems of anonymity of sources and help to instil greater credibility on stories.
It said that editors had agreed that the media should endeavour to regulate professional practice and also ensure proper corporate governance on the part of the owners of media houses.
This, it said, was important in order to guarantee adequate supply of working tools, better working environment and improvement in staff welfare.
Editors, according to the communique, commended the NGE leadership for ‘’lifting the bar of engagement’’ via the training workshop.
It said that the programme had not only enriched the knowledge of editors, but also created a platform for further social networking amongst them.(NAN)