A three-day workshop on “Challenges of the Media Industry in Nigeria” organized by the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), was held at The Peninsula Resort, Ajah, Lagos State, from 13th to 16th September, 2006.
The event was the tripartite series of workshops organized by the Nigerian Press Council in its desire to enhance the moral tone and professional excellence of the Nigerian Press. Participants at the workshop include media proprietors, publishers, media chief executives, managing directors, editors, public information managers and stakeholders in the industry, politicians, government agencies and general public, media regulatory bodies, media training institutions and the academia.
The Special Guest-of-Honour, the Honourable Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr’s address was read at the opening ceremony by Mr. Godwin Omole, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Press Council. Also present at the opening ceremony were Hadj Alade Odunewu (Chairman, NPC); Senator Tawa U. Wada, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation; Hon. Abdul Oroh, member, House Committee on Information; Mr. Brain Browne, Consul General, Embasy of USA, Lagos, represented by Tim Gerhardson, Public Affairs Officer of the Consulate.
Prince Tony Momoh, former Minister of Information, President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Alhaji Baba Dantiye, President of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Ndagene Akwu, former Lagos State Governor Alhaji Lateef Jakande and former Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Mallam Wada Maida were also present.
Declaring the workshop open, the Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr. Urged the media to be vigilant to ensure that democracy is firmly planted and nurtured to grow as the preferred system of government. He challenged the media to embark on voter education as means of enhancing political awareness among the citizenry.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Press Council, Hadj Alade Odunewu, noted that dwindling sales, high costs of production, machinery and other inputs as well as recession, poverty, inequitable economic relations had made life more difficult for the ordinary Nigerian. He then urged the media to enhance debates among politicians and the rest of the citizenry and also educate the electorate to shun money politics and elect those with integrity and character.
In all, ten (10) papers were presented and discussed. These include:
– “Challenges of the Media Industry” by Mr. Chris Doghudji.
– “INEC Expectations of the media in the 2007 Elections” by Professor Maurice Iwu.
– “Media Expectations of INEC in the 2007 Elections” by Mr. Ray Ekpu.
– “Political Education and Challenges of Electioneering” by Professors Adele Jinadu and Sam Oyovbaire.
– “Voters Education, Manisfestoes and Campaigns” by Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
– “Voters Education, Manifestoes and Campaigns” by Mr. Brain Browne, Consul General; Embassy of USA, Lagos.
– “The Role of the Media in Political Advertising” by Prince Tony Momoh and Dr. May Nzeribe and
– “After the election, what next?” by Professor John M. Amoda.
After thorough deliberations, participants observed that:
- The passage of both the Nigerian Press Council Amendment Bill and the Bill on the Freedom of Information by the National Assembly would enhance the smooth operations of the media industry and its ability to fulfill its mandate.
- The relationship between the media and agencies of government e.g INEC, needs to be strengthened to enhance the success of the 2007 election.
- INEC should co-operate with the media and other public enlightenment agencies to ensure accurate, fair, objective reportage and commentaries on the activities of political parties, candidates and their programmes, to help the electorate make informed choices, including organizing public enlightenment activities and making the electoral Act available.
- All election petitions and litigations should as much as possible, be fully resolved before inauguration.
- The voters’ register for the 2007 elections should be unduly delayed considering its importance to the success of the elections.
- Voter education and awareness are by abysmally low, while there is a total absence of ideological orientation among politicians and a large segment of the citizenry.
- Journalists must shun all Forms of inducements likely to make them compromise their professional ethics.
- Mass media owners should provide social security for their staff, including life insurance coverage, free media/health care and adequate remuneration.
PARTICIPANTS THEREFORE RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:
- It is not practicable for the Federal and State Governments to divest their interests in the media but participants emphasized that both public and private media should be run commercially and professionally.
- The National Assembly should speed up the passage of the Media Enhancement Bill and ensure that the widest consultation is made among stakeholders to enhance the profile and profitability of media houses for the benefit of media practitioners and the general public.
- The media should be encouraged to embark on specialization, branding and packaging and display journalistic integrity at all times to ensure quality, of content and product.
- For the media to solidify their financial base, media houses should be encouraged to embark on mergers and collaboration and adopt good corporate governance.
- Concerted efforts should be made to reduce the high production and distribution costs through co-operation among media houses.
- On the challenges of low circulation of newspapers and magazines, a shift to the establishment of regional or community newspapers is canvassed, while over time, cover prices should be reduced with reliance on subscriptions and incomes from advertisements to raise circulation figures
- To resolve the challenge of quality manpower and to advance professionalism and managerial excellence in the media industry, the institution of specialized in-service training at the editorial, production and managerial levels of the workforce is advocated.
- The National Assembly, especially the Senate, should expedite the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill to resolve the problem of challenges of responsibility without authority experienced by certain media organizations at the moment.
- All media groups and stakeholders should identify all laws that impede the progress of the media and pass them to the National Assembly for consideration to ensure they are expunge from the statute books as soon as possible.
- Any unprofessional and unethical conduct by media practitioners should be punished through sections enforced by the Nigerian Press Council, which should therefore be empowered to continue discharging that responsibility without delay.
- Civil society organizations should henceforth be more pro-actively involved in monitoring all electoral processes in the country.
- INEC should make adequate logistic arrangements to ensure a hitch-free conduct of the election, taking into account the demands of the difficult and less accessible terrains.
- INEC and media practitioners should collaborate in evolving workable programmes for the promotion of mutual understanding regarding roles and responsibilities to the Nigerian populace.
- Given the imperatives of making media products affordable to the people concessions and waivers should be granted on media material imports such as newsprints, broadcast equipment and chemicals, among others.
- Owners of media organizations should take more practical steps to improve their financial situation and thus enable them discharge their obligations to the practitioners as and when due.
- More realistic conflict resolution initiatives designed at ensuring peace through constructive engagement with the various communities where those conflicts arise, should be embarked upon as a matter of urgency.
OSEWOLE MODUPE EDDY AINA
MD, the Hope Newspapers Chairman, Communiqué Committee
Nigerian Guide of Editors Nigerian Union of Journalists
Executive Secretary, NPC
HADJ ALADE ODUNEWU