Nigerian Editors rose from their annual All Nigeria Editors’ Conference, ANEC in Sokoto on Sunday declaring that draconian legislations such as the proposed fake news and hate speech bills have no place in Nigeria democracy, blaming the distress in the media industry on the nation’s dwindling economic fortune.
In a 11-point communique signed by the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, Mr. Mustapha Isah and General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, they called on the federal government to overhaul the nation’s economic architecture in order to reflate the sagging economy and increase the revenue streams of the nation.
As a further step, the NGE emphasised the need for serious capital injection into the media industry to overcome under capitalization and dearth of media businesses as well as diversification, improved funding, collaboration, specialised journalism education programmes, newsroom re-engineering among other innovations necessary for revenue generation and sustenance of media businesses.
Recall that in the wake of the palpable distress in Nigeria’s media industry and its attendant consequences on the journalists, government and the Nigerian society, members of the NGE gathered in Sokoto, the Sokoto state capital, from November 27 to December 1, 2019, to deliberate on the theme: A Distressed Media: Impact on Government, Governance and the Society.
The high profile gathering which had the entire cabinet of the Sokoto State government in attendance was declared opened by the Sokoto State Governor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal while former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba chaired the conference.
However rising from the conference, the editors further “expressed concern over the proposed fake news and hate speech bills and drew the attention of both the National Assembly and the Federal Government to the fact that draconian legislations have no place in Nigeria’s democracy.
“Identified ownership interference as a key factor militating against free operation of the media and therefore advised owners of both public and private media organizations to pay more attention to facilitating the smooth operations of the media as truly business outfits.
“Condemned all dictatorial tendencies against the media and stressed the need to collectively fight against all media abuses by non- professionals; and frowned at all attempts to punish conventional media for the wrongs of non- professionals on the social media platforms.
“Called for the release of all detained journalists across the country, stating that democracy thrives better in countries that cherish and promote media freedom.
“Resolved to set up a committee to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and come up with a Compendium to showcase its activities since inception.
“Ratified the election of Mr. Mustapha Isah as the substantive President of the Guild, following the appointment of Mrs. Funke Egbemode as a Commissioner in the State of Osun.
“Commended the government of Sokoto State for the rapid growth and acceleration of infrastructure development across the state, as well as the widespread human capital development programmes in the areas of free education, sponsorship of indigent students regardless of their origin as well as initiatives for improved medicare for the people and expressed its appreciation to the Governor of Sokoto State for hosting and supporting the Guild to have a successful conference”.
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