A call has been made on the Media in Nigerian to further intensify and improve on its role towards deescalating conflicts and violence including deepening democracy through its reportage with a view to further strengthen ties and promote peace and development among the West African countries.
Speaking at the event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) organised by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission held in Gombe Yesterday, Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Sen Musiliu Mohammed Obanikoro stressed the need for the media to begin to intensify on playing its role effectively and positively towards contributing to achieving ECOWAS’ goals of regional integration rather than tearing it apart.
According to him, the choice of the theme for the event ‘ The role of Media in Deepening Democracy and Deescalating Violent Conflicts in West African Sub-region,’ was informed by the need to appreciate the relevance of democracy, as well as peace and security which the media has a significant role in achieving them.
While highlighting some of ECOWAS’ achievements over the years, the Minister highlighted that, the ECOWAS Commission has been concerned about democracy and good governance by demonstrating in practical terms, its zero tolerance to undemocratic ascension to and sustaining democracy among member states.
He maintained that, Nigeria as one of the strategic member of ECOWAS has recorded a significant democratic achievement worth emulating by other member nations, particularly in its just concluded 2015 general elections. According to him, the act of conceding defeat by the incumbent president had not only proved that democracy can thrive in Africa, but that had saved Nigeria from serious crisis and conflict.
“In other to appreciate this gesture, we have to reflect on what is happening in other countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and other unstable countries, if we see the level of instability and devastation in those countries, then we will not take for granted, the level of peace and stability we now enjoy. And we will appreciate more the sacrifice that President Goodluck Jonathan has made by congratulating Gen Mohammadu Buhari without encouraging any undemocratic position.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amb Bulus Zom Lolo stated that, the Ministry considered the ECOWA’s 40th anniversary as the right moment to brainstorm on issue that are germane to enhancing regional integration. Against this backdrop he said the was the need to reflect on the important role of the media in deepening democracy and regulating conflict.
He said “the Nigerian Media has undergone visible resolutions , and therefore has contribution to offer in deepening democracy as well as moderating violent conflict in Nigeria.”
According to him, Nigeria’s experience in democracy especially with the recent 2015 general elections has provided grounds for lessons in regards to democracy, and relevance of the role of the media.
However, the President Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Mohammed Garba, who was represented by the senior Assistant National Secretary, Mr B Bamidele stated that, the media as a very effective tool in moulding the the society has played a critical role in building democracy and promotion of good governance in Nigeria and West Africa.
He said, the NUJ is currently working towards evaluating its performances of the media, particularly during the just concluded election. This according to him was with the view to promote professionalism and good practices among journalists in Nigeria.
While declaring the event open, Executive governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo expressed that, the state being one of the state in the northeast has had its own share of the bitter experience from the insurgency by Boko haram.
He said, the state has been working tirelessly in taking decisive measures to ensure peace and tranquillity within its borders taking in consideration the paramount importance of peace in achieving any developmental goal.
While commending President Goodluck Jonathan for what he called demonstration of true democracy in the last general elections by conceding defeat, he also commended the president- elect for accepting the hand of friendship extended to him by the outgoing president.
In the same development, the Speaker Gombe State House of Assembly, Alh Inuwa Garba has expressed commitment of the legislative arm of government in the state in providing productive legislation in other to actualise the deepening of democracy in Nigeria and the West African sub- region.