Bagauda Kaltho Memorial Lecture Participants Say Safety Of Journalists Will Guarantee Freedom Of Speech In Nigeria

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    *urges media to create adequate awareness on SDGs

    By; KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna

    Participants at the Fourth Bagauda Kaltho Memorial Lecture have said that freedom of speech and unhindered dissemination of information can only thrive where the safety of journalists is secured.

    The participants are also of the strong belief that when the people who attack or kill journalists go unpunished, the State of impunity for their action, leads to self censorship among both journalists and society.

    They therefore stressed the need for all concerned to take every measure to safeguard the lives of media practitioners and create necessary environment for them to deliver on their core professional mandates, which are to inform, educate and entertain.

    The assertion is contained in a communique issued after a Virtual lecture organised by the African Media Development Foundation, AMDF themed “The Anexus Between the Mass Media, Sustainable Development and the Promotion of SDGs in Nigeria.

    The Communique tasks the media to design programmes or contents in local languages to create adequate awareness and educate the people on the SDGs and their prospects.

    The consequence of the media’s inability to play its role, the Communique said, could affect the success of the SDGs adding that no country, including Nigeria, wants to be left out of global developmental projects because being excluded portends a major setback.

    Here Under Is The Full Text Of The 12 Point Communique

    Preamble
    —————-
    The Memorial annual lecture, organised by the Africa Media Development Foundation, AMDF is to keep alive the memory of Mr. Bagauda Kaltho, a Nigerian fearless investigative Journalist who disappeared unceremoniously in the course of his professional calling over Two decades ago.
    The virtual lecture was participated by media executives, journalists, writers, the academics, CSOs among others from both within and outside Nigeria which thoroughly examined the link between the mass media, sustainable development and the promotion of the SDGs in the country.

    The relationship between the mass media and sustainable development was also noted as mutually inclusive and self-reinforcing.
    It was however noted that while the goal of sustainable development is to create room for equitable and even development, growth across the developed and developing nations, many developing countries are not fully part of the process due to several factors.
    These include backwardness in technology, low standard of living, economic recession, bad government and corruption in institutions of government as well as the
    imbalance In communication flow from the media- producer nations of developed economies, to the media consumer nations of developing economies.
    It is therefore the strong belief that given the indispensable role of the mass media as change agents and setters of agenda for public debate, they constitute the best channel for promoting the SDGs globally and in Nigeria, particularly.

    From the foregoing, the participants then made the following recommendations that :-

    (1) A free media is sine qua non for freedom of speech as well as unhindered and effective disemination of information, while the safety of Journalists is a precondition for freedom of speech. When the people who attack or kill journalists go unpunished, the prevailing state of impunity for their action leads to self- censorship among both journalists and society at large.
    (2) Everything must be done by all concerned to safeguard the lives of media practitioners and create the necessary enabling environment for
    them to effectively deliver on their core professional mandates which are to inform, educate and entertain.

    (3) The mass media should design programmes or contents in local languages to create adequate awareness and educate the people on the SDGs and their prospects.
    Participatory development communication from the media should be encouraged as this gives people a sense of belonging in the project as well as identifying and satisfying the communication needs of the people especially those in the rural areas.

    (4) The establishment of community media in the rural areas will go a long way in keeping the people informed of government policies and projects as well as aid community development.

    (5) For mobilization to take place, there must be free flow of information and if the public is properly informed, everyone will be aware of the place of the media in the society with the
    people willing to contribute their quota to national development,

    (6) It is advisable to develop jingles and short videos about the SDGs in local languages for the educational function of the media to be impactful
    This will assist in the mobilization of the illiterate and semi illiterate segments of the population to key into modern developments.

    (7) The government, media and educational institutions should work together in developing SDGS-focused adult literacy programmes with a view to involving a large number of people in the SDGs’ implementation process.

    (8) The media must have a conductive environment to operate as the One that encounters problems such as a domineering government which is usually the case with state owned media cannot perform its functions freely.

    (9) Independent public service media should be encouraged to have more objective and unbiased assessment of national projects. Similarly, the influence of the political or business interest on private media may also mar their ability to function objectively.

    (10)The consequence of the media’s inability to play its role could affect the success of the SDGs and no country, including Nigeria, wants to be left out of global developmental projects because being excluded portends a major setback.

    (11) Nigeria is plagued with enormous economic crisis, threat of disintegration, terrorism and general insecurity. Such atmosphere of instability does not create the enabling environment for practicing effective journalism as most media practitioners may not be able to access volatile areas to carry out their duties or even assess developmental projects in those areas.

    (12) The government must therefore make effort to address issues relating to insecurity, as well as political and economic instability as no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of rancour, terrorism, corruption, disaffection and disunity”, the Communique concludes.

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