Nigeria Guild of Editors Poise To Set Agenda For Sustenance Of Democracy

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By Hassan Umar Shallpella

In its effort to reawaken Editors of both print and electronic media, the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) in conjunction with the U S Embassy in Nigeria has organized a two day capacity building workshop for Editors in the North East held in Yola, Adamawa State capital.

The workshop with a theme: ‘Agenda setting for Sustainable Democratic Culture” was heralded with a town hall meeting and third in the series with the first two held in Lagos and Kano has provided a platform for Editors of the sacred duties as contained in the constitution.

In her remark, the U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Jeanne Clark said the Embassy is grateful to partners with the Nigerian Guild of Editors, for a more deeply reflection on the freedoms afforded in a democracy.

“We are proud to be here in Yola today for our third town hall meeting called to recognize the importance of a free media in a democracy, and to more closely examine roles and responsibilities as citizens and professionals in strengthening democracy.

“The U.S. is taking bold action in 5 key areas, Supporting Free and Independent Media, Fighting Corruption, Bolstering Democratic Reformers, Advancing Technology for Democracy and Defending Free and Fair Elections and Political Processes,” she said.

In his welcome address, the President of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, Mr. Mustpha Isah said the town hall meeting want to find answers to is: “What role should the media play in setting the agenda that would lead to a sustainable democratic culture in Nigeria and how do we encourage the youth and the women to participate more actively in the democratic process?

“What is currently dominating headlines in the media on the 2023 general elections is zoning and power rotation which is often laced with religious and ethnic sentiments but we should realize that  this is the agenda of the politicians that the media must not  allow these politicians to set the agenda for us.

“Section 22 of the 1999 constitution says “the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the media should at all times be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.

“This section gives the media the enormous responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people, adding that this Town Meeting is expected to assess our performance and suggest ways for improvement.

“In the last one year, there have been four coups in West Africa alone in which the military truncated democracy. A democratic government was toppled in Chad on April 20, 2021.

“We’ve had two coups in Mali in less than one year, On September 5, 2021, the military struck in Guinea and on January 24, 2022, Burkina Faso military followed the dangerous trend.

“All these happenings in our West African neighbours should serve as a warning to us here to jealously protect our democracy through good governance, openness and citizen participation.

“The Guild of Editors believes that democracy remains the best form of government because it guarantees freedom and it has the ability to correct its own mistakes if the people don’t go to sleep after elections,” he added.

Isah said the media in setting agenda for sustainable democratic culture and deepening of the democratic space was the major roles of the media is agenda setting, the more stories the media do on a particular subject, the more importance the audience will attach to it.

Various papers by eminent communication scholars were presented at the workshop.

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