By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has said that the 2019 Africa Conference on Development Journalism will motivate journalists to write stories that would bring out the impact that policies, programmes and actions have on ordinary citizens.
They would also be able to focus on stories that highlight innovations and achievements that would motivate People and inspire citizens, give voice to the voiceless, as well as monitor and evaluate public programmes and policies.
The Executive Director, AMDF, Mr. Iliya Kure reaffirmed this, while addressing a cream of professional journalists, academics, students, development partners, civil society actors and others, at the just concluded conference in Kaduna, Nigeria, supported Pathfinder International, RETMA PHARMA LIMITED, KWOPNAN Water and CODE ICON.
Kure said it was unfortunate that African journalists were yet to come to term with development journalism and have continued to give greater attention to leaders in stories instead of focusing on national development in their respective countries.
The Executive Director who urged journalists to remain steadfast in speaking the truth to the power, noted that the conference came at a time when journalism across the globe was facing a great challenge, as many leaders were working to muzzle the press and stifle freedom of expression.
“Journalism exists to promote freedom of speech, In AMDF, we believe absence of press freedom and free speech is absence of every form of God given freedom. We implore any Leader in Africa that has problem with any report to go to court, the court is meant to ensure justice for all,” he said.
Speaking on “Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals”, a media Specialist, Mallam Ahmed Maiyaki challenged Journalists to focus more on issues that affect the society instead of dwelling so much on politics, which he noted have been their preoccupation.
As journalists, he said, they should ensure localization of SDGs by taking them to the grassroot, saying much needed to be done, especially at the primary levels of education and health.
“While health care hardly gets to the grassroot level, ballot boxes get to the level unhindered,” he lamented.
Maiyaki noted that Nigeria was still far behind in SDGs that are working through collaborative efforts in most countries, hence the need for journalists to play their role to achieve the Goals by 2030.
“If there is no hunger and poverty, all other necessities would be available for the citizens”.
In a Keynote titled, “Health and Development Agenda for Nigerian Journalists, Country Director of SuNMaP Nigeria, Dr. Lola Mabogunje, described SDGs as a total package of a complete and physical wellbeing of one.
She stated that all the SDGs are integrated and risk informed, hence the need for Journalists to read and learn, otherwise they would become a story tellers.
“Knowledge earns respect, your role is in the demand and supply, try to acquaint yourself with the SDGs to enable you interpret, extend your service to the remotest area to change the attitude and behaviour of the community.
Investigate how resources are utilized “, she said.
Dr. Mabogunje also reminded Journalists that they are accountable and answerable to the public and should therefore improve the social contract between the leaders and the led. This, she explained, can be exercised by providing information on contemporary issues.
She noted with concern that inequality and climate change are on the rise and child mortality rate, is high.
Collaborating, Program Officer with Pathfinder International, Mallam Yusuf Nuhu stated that population growth has negative effect on natural resources.
He said the demand increase in supply of meagre resources were contributing to Climate Change and that the more mouth to feed the more food to cope resulting in pressure on food supply and enormous demand on land and water.
Mallam Nuhu was however quick to point out the position of Pathfinder International, which he said, was not out for Population control, but child birth spacing, for the health and economic well-being of the family.