Building consensus around truth, public interest critical to Nigeria’s development —Ajimobi

As Awolowo Dosumu, Agbaje, others laud Petals FM at first anniversary

From left, Co-chairman, African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Ambassador (Dr) Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu (left); Mrs Wemimo Anifowose (an awardee); Vicar, Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne-Remo, Ogun State, Venerable Samuel Oladele Enike and Professor Olu Sofowora, during the 23rd choir anniversary and award presentation of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne-Remo, on Sunday. PHOTO: D-TOYIN.

OYO State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has stressed the need to build a national consensus around the ideals of truth, fact and public interest, for the progress and development of the country.

Governor Ajimobi, who said Nigerians must have consensus on these values for them to be happy and promote the togetherness of the country, spoke at the first anniversary lecture of Petals F.M, a private radio station owned by social critic, Mr Yinka Odumakin.

He said although the diversity of the country might be seen as a challenge to achieving a consensus on a number of issues, optimisation of consensus for progressive development of the country, irrespective of political leanings, should be everybody’s business.

The governor emphasised the need for change of attitude among all Nigerians, adding that the citizens as well as the leadership were not free from corruption.

He tasked proprietors of both private and public media organisations, particularly the radio arm of the electronic media, to prioritise training and re-training of journalists for improved professionalism.

Professor Adigun Agbaje, in a lecture entitled: “The Nigerian Media and the Search for Consensus in Diversity: Retrospect, Precepts and Prospects,” delivered on his behalf by Dr Remi Ayede, stressed that consensus building among the elite class of Nigerians was a sufficient condition for engineering  political, economic and socio-cultural development.

He advised against the “tendency to feed negatively on the country’s many diverse ethnic, religious, regional and other realities, rather than turn same into veritable resources for unleashing positive forces of development and democracy on our communities,” identifying lack of consensus as the bane of the country.

“This viewpoint is indeed attractive, given the everyday experience of the fractious politics of ethnicity, religion and regionalism that constantly play out in the media and other platforms and stretch the fabric of public and not-so-public life almost to breaking point.

“However, it is now often suggested that perhaps a worse fate has indeed been foisted on Nigeria and Nigerians; namely, that the challenges that Nigeria currently faces do not necessarily arise from lack of consensus, but more from elements of an emerging consensus on the instrumental uses (and abuses) of such anti-development elements as impunity, corruption, and nepotism,” he added.

Agbaje lamented that the media was not living up to expectation in its responsibility of being in the vanguard of the campaign for national consensus, because of polarisation along ethnic lines and media proprietors’ political leaning.

Contestant for the national chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and aspirant for Lagos State governorship seat, Mr Jimi Agbaje, stressed the need for the media to make discourse about qualitative development, particularly in the South-West zone, a new focus.

According to him, “copious references are still being about Chief Obafemi Awolowo till today in the area of qualitative development because the sage sought and won political power not for personal benefit but for the good of Nigerians.”

He decried a situation where the political leadership moved and killed a particular newspaper by stopping advert patronage to the newspaper because of perceived adversarial disposition.

Earlier, the chairperson of the event and co-chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, set the tone of discussion in her welcome address wherein she emphasised the need for all to come to a table and share the same goal.

She extolled the virtues and doggedness of the chairman of Petals FM, Mr Odumakin, for his dedication to charting a developmental course for Nigeria.

According to her, “I want to commend the commitment of the chairman of Petals FM 102.3. He is someone in the mould of sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

“He takes the problem of Nigeria as his own and rarely has time for himself and his family.”

Dr Awolowo Dosumu called on radio proprietors to take up the challenge of informing Nigerians on the need to move the nation forward.

She lamented the lack of reading culture among the populace, noting that “they listen to radio and watch television more than they read newspapers.”

She, therefore, urged the broadcast media practitioners to duly inform the citizenry about the happenings in the country.

“It is about time Nigerians are informed about the issues at stake and what is needed to move Nigerians forward.

“All stakeholders must move together and discuss. We need to come together and share the same goals, have broad agreement on the developmental goal of our country.

“And I ask myself, is that the case in Nigeria? We have to work together and make sure we get there,” she said.

Odumakin described the one year journey of the station as challenging, adding, however, that the station was still focused on its mission statement.

“In the beginning, we pledged to speak the truth to all, but especially to power. This has never been a merry undertaking, whether on the brown or yellow pages of history or even, in the times captures by our living eyes.

“Conversions through sheer strength, the savory mint of money, even the supple sway of an irresistible fairy. The end is the result. But those are carrots, the stick also avails. But the pledge, our pledge, stands,” he said.