MRA Urges Nigerians to Use Radio as a Tool for Building Peace

+By our Correspondent+

The  Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on Nigerians to use radio as a tool for building peace across political, economic, religious and ethnic divides particularly at this period when Nigeria is holding general elections to elect a new set of leaders.

MRA made the call in a statement issued in Lagos by Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director, to commemorate the eighth edition of the World Radio Day, a Day celebrated every year on February 13, and in line with the theme of the celebration: Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.

Mr. Longe said, “Radio has touched billions of lives around the world positively and made a lot of impact; and with the convergence of technology, this impact is expanding. The world needs to explore every avenue to strengthen radio and make it a tool for dialogue, tolerance and peace, in line with the theme for the 2019 celebration of the World Radio Day.”

He noted that the world, including Nigeria, has witnessed so many crises. “The world needs peace through tolerance and dialogue and radio being the cheapest and farthest reaching means of communication is so much suited to bring peace to the world and technological advancement has made radio portable and its signals accessible from remote areas using different gadgets and devices, including even the most basic mobile phones available today”, he said.

Mr. Longe identified the importance of radio in many different ways and how it can be used to promote peace, noting that it is a medium that is being used to foster participation and engagement in local languages; it is the first medium people turn to for information and updates about just anything including during natural disasters, wars, as well as communal, national and political activities of all hues.

He said: “Radio is unarguably the widest reaching medium of communication in Nigeria, as it is in most other parts of the world. It has become cheap to acquire and maintain, very portable and is a highly ubiquitous means of receiving real time information, entertainment and education.”

He noted that this year’s theme was very appropriate, saying it is coming at about the time of Nigeria’s general elections which have frequently been characterized by violence in the past. He stressed that for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria, there is need for tolerance from everybody, especially the political actors and their most ardent supporters, adding that dialogue will enhance understanding and tolerance which will ultimately bring about peace, and that the radio is best positioned to facilitate this.

He also called on all Nigerians, particularly broadcasters, to use radio to douse tension and ensure peace, reminding them that radio has the potential to stoke violence and as well as to be an instrument for building peace.

World Radio Day was proclaimed at the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2011 to take place on February 13 each year. It was then unanimously endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on January 14, 2013 at its 67th session as a UN Day. The Day commemorates the establishment of the UN R on February 13, 1946 and is now set aside as the day to celebrate radio as a medium to improve international cooperation between broadcasters and to encourage networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.

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2019: US, UK reiterate support for free, fair, peaceful elections

…to sanction violators of peaceful democratic process

=By Funmi Falobi=

United States and United Kingdom have reiterated their support for a genuine free, fair, transparent and peaceful 2019 elections in Nigeria.

According to the two world power, the conduct of the coming elections in the country is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.

The US in a statement said that, “The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections.  The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself.  We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections.  We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process.  Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”

The US added that it welcome the signing of peace pledges by Nigerian candidates and their commitment to a peaceful electoral process.

Similarly, the UK said that it will continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections.  It further said that it will also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm.

“The British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria. We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy.  We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity. “

The UK said it will deploy an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the European Union, EU’s Election Observation Mission.  “Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals.  These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.

 

MRA, IMS nominated for global freedom of expression awards

 

 

=By Funmi Falobi=

 

Two Nigerian non-governmental organisations, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) have been named among 15 “Global champions of free expression” that have been shortlisted for the 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards.

In a statement issued in London, the United Kingdom-based campaigning organisation, Index on Censorship, announced the 15 shortlisted individuals and organisations from around the world, saying they were drawn from more than 400 crowd sourced nominations which include “artists, writers, journalists and campaigners fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles.”

“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society – and it’s under increasing threat worldwide. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognise the groups and individuals willing to stand up for it,” Ms Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said in the statement.

The Awards fellowships are offered in four categories, namely: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism. Final winners in each category will be announced at a gala ceremony to be held in London on April 4, 2019.

Judges for this year’s awards include the award-winning investigative journalist and Rappler.com Editor-in-Chief, Maria Ressa; actor and filmmaker Khalid Abdalla; computer scientist and author Dr. Kate Devlin; and writer and social activist Nimco Ali.

Index on Censorship noted in its statement that Media Rights Agenda “has spent the last two decades working to improve media freedom and freedom of expression in Nigeria by challenging the government in courts,” adding that “Through its active legal team, MRA has initiated strategic litigation targeting dozens of institutions, politicians and officials to improve the country’s legal framework around media freedom.”

It said MRA’s “persistent campaigning and lawsuits on freedom of information have helped improve access to government-held data.”

Index on Censorship noted that IMS “aims to improve the country’s media landscape by challenging government regulation and fostering the creation of community radio stations in rural areas at a time when local journalism globally is under threat” and praised the organisation for combining “research and advocacy to challenge legal restrictions on the media as well as practical action to encourage Nigerians to use their voices.”

IPC condemns arrest, demands release of photojournalist

The International Press Center, IPC, has demanded the immediate release of Yinka Badmus, a photojournalist with Talk Village International in Lagos.

In a report by Vanguard Newspaper dated January 11th, 2019, Badmus, 24, was arrested on New Year eve by policemen attached to the Lagos State Anti-Cultism unit for wearing dreadlocks, which the officers allegedly said made him look like a cultist while eating noodles at Pedro Bus stop, Gbagada, Lagos.

In a statement, Lanre Arogundade, Director, IPC, said it was unconstitutional for him to have been detained for many days before he was eventually arraigned and remanded on the orders of an Ogudu Magistrate Court, Lagos.

 Arogundade pleaded with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to step into the matter so that the photo journalist could regain his freedom.

The IPC Director also enjoined journalists to be mindful of their safety and ensure they have a means of identification on them at all times.

Yinka Badmus is currently being held at Ikoyi Prisons.

Enhancing best journalism practices in 2019 elections and beyond

=By Funmi Falobi=

 

As 2019 elections are gathering momentum, Nigerian journalists have been tasked to shun hate speech and embrace best practices in the electoral reportage.

Similarly, journalists are also urged beyond reporting, to have the mindset of entrepreneurs in order to harness opportunities.

This was the submission at a two day workshop organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) in conjunction with European Union support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) for journalists in the South West region held at Osogbo, Osun State with the theme, “Best Practices and Professional Reporting of the Electoral Process.”

According to the IPC Director, Lanre Arogundade, the event was organised to critically examine the interconnections between the public, the media and elections towards developing an agenda that seeks to strengthen the role of the media in facilitating a credible electoral process.

“It is expected that this training will help participants to understand and imbibe the principles of fairness, diversity and objectivity in reporting the electoral process and the elections with the anticipation that this meeting will provide an integral opportunity for journalists to share their experiences to ensure best practice reporting for the 2019 elections,” he said.

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In his speech, Muyiwa Popoola, Professor of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies, Ajayi Crowther University, said the way the media report issues contributes to conflict and violence.

img_20181220_114220Speaking on the topic, “Towards 2019: Avoiding Hate Speech and Being Conflict Sensitive in Election Reporting,” Popoola said Nigerian reporters have responsibility to cover the fact but avoid stoking hate speech.

“Nigerian media professionals should always endeavour to evaluate before they publish. They should be conflict sensitive oriented by adopting Conflict Sensitive Reporting (CSR) style. How we report conflict determines our safety in the land,” he said.

While enjoining journalists to uphold ethical professionalism in reporting the 2019 elections, the university don said, “As journalists, we should not just be searching for scoops, we should research, we should not be lazy journalists. In our reportage, we should look for shadow parties to reduce political conflict in the country.”

 On his part, David Ajikobi, Nigerian Editor, Africa Check, took participants on eliminating bias in election reporting.

He enjoined journalists to get new skills necessary in fact checking and use such to present correct facts since readers tend to believe more in what they read from journalists.

Warning journalists not to fall victim of fake news, Ajikobi declared that in the next elections, fake news will be a threat – Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, fake news websites.

“A fact is what can be checked and backed up with evidence. Asking questions is the basis of fact checking. It makes leaders accountable before they act,” he said.

The fact checking expert took journalists through some tools they could use to verify pictures often used to propel fake news.

“As journalists you must be careful not to fall for fake accounts when you are using the social media as news source because your credibility built over the years can vanish when you share false information,” he warned.

Consequently, Taiwo Obe, Founder, Journalism Clinic, advised journalists to have the mindset of entrepreneurs.

Using his own media experience, Obe, who had invested over 40 years in journalism, went beyond the training outline to encourage journalists to think differently in order to maximise their career opportunities.

Speaking on the topic entitled “Enhancing Election Reporting in the Digital Age,” Obe said,

“If you have not trained your mind in what you do daily I want you to re-condition it and if you are not critical about your thoughts, you would be doing the same routine. It is necessary to do a self worth analysis.

Internet has no boundary don’t limit yourself. It is inferred that journalism has moved don’t limit yourself.”

Obe also took participants through career enhancing tools necessary for 21st century journalists. This include: Quick, Anchor, Google earth, Nimbles, Facebooklife among others.

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1,252 benefit from Lagos agricultural value empowerment programme

 

By Funmi Falobi

 

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said that 1,252 farmers have been empowered by the State Government under its agricultural value and empowerment programme aimed to reduce poverty in the State.

Ambode who made this known at the flag off ceremony of the 2018 Agricultural Value Chains Empowerment Programme noted that the 1,252 farmers in the state have been supported in various farming enterprise and empowered to boost their productive capacities in line with the State’s food security objective.

The governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Suarau stated that the programme is a strategic approach employed by the state government to enhance productivity and improve standard of living of small holder farmers, fishermen, agro processors and marketers through the provision of inputs, productive assets and capacity building so as to ensure the steady supply of food to Lagosians.

He noted that food security became a major challenge as a result of the drastic decline in oil revenue stressing that it has now become imperative to conserve foreign exchange by reviving the agricultural sector through policies and programmes that will encourage more people to go into farming and increase food production.

Ambode added that the state government as a matter of policy has ensured that basic infrastructural facilities are evenly distributed across the state especially in rural communities despite the fact that most farming activities are based in the rural and semi urban areas.

“Our objective is to make our communities liveable and centres of economic activities. This strategy we believe will reverse the trend of rural to urban migration and also make farming more attractive especially to young people,” he said.

While stressing that his administration is committed to ensuring food self-sufficiency for the teeming population through well designed and thought initiatives, the governor said that his administration will not relent in its effort to encourage farming activities in the rural communities by reducing the infrastructural gap between rural and urban centres.

He added that the State Government has procured a 32 metric tons per hour rice mill to sustain the production and processing of local rice in the state which will create over 500,000 jobs in form of manpower to operate the mill directly.

Earlier in his address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya explained that the state government through various  farming enterprises which include  egg marketers, piggery, butchery, poultry production, vegetable production, perishable produce trading, sheep and goat production, aquaculture, fish feed input, artisanal fisheries and fish processing is working towards food sufficiency .

IPC condemns shooting of journalists at APC Lagos rally

The International Press Centre (IPC) is highly concerned about the reported gun-attack on journalists who were covering the Lagos State rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

According to news reports, among those that were affected by the unwelcome activities of gun wielding elements were the group political editor of The Nation Newspaper, Emmanuel Oladesu, News Telegraph correspondent, Temitope Ogunbanke and Ibile Television cameraman, Abiodun Yusuf.

The News Editor of The Nation confirmed the incident to IPC stating that Mr. Oladesu was hit by a stray bullet and was receiving treatment in a hospital although in stable condition.

In a signed statement by the Director, Lanre Arogundade, IPC hereby reminds all political parties that the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage obligates them to ensure the safety of journalists covering their activities including campaigns.

The organisation therefore calls on the Lagos APC to urgently take appropriate steps to apprehend the alleged perpetrators of the bizarre attack with a view to handing them over to the law enforcement agencies for immediate prosecution, also as provided by the Code of Election Coverage.

IPC calls on all journalists covering the ongoing campaigns to keep themselves abreast of all safety measure.” They should learn to stay away from political activities where rival gangs engage in show of force especially through display of weapons.

Journalists covering the elections should also bear in mind that they constitute dangerous assignments requiring them to take insurance cover especially from their employees,” Arogundade said.

IPC appeals to the security agents on electoral duty, especially the Police, to consider the protection of journalists as part of their responsibility as envisaged by and indeed provided for by the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage.