Mass media now used to torture public officers – Obasanjo


FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, stated that Nigerian journalists now use mass media to torture public officers
Obasanjo stated this while delivering his keynote address at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Media Summit 2016 held at the Green Legacy Resort, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The theme of the three-day summit is “The Media and National Unity.”

The former two term president who was represented by the former Executive Secretary, Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola, said journalists were not empowered to execute judgement on any public office holders but to monitor their activities.

The event was attended by the host governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the Lagos and Kwara states’ governors, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello and Mr Mahmud Ajeigbe respectively, the Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazau, former past National President of the Union, Mr Lanre Ogundipe, among others.

Obasanjo emphasised that journalists must possess high level of integrity, be honest and incorruptible before they could hold office holders accountable and also decried the low premium placed on investigative journalism.

He said, “Newspaper houses, television, radio stations and social media now use mass media to torture public office holders forgetting that the Nigerian constitution makes it clear that the press is not given the power to execute judgement of public officials, rather their duty is to monitor and make public officers accountable. But those who will hold others accountable must also have the necessary diligence, integrity, honesty and incorruptibility that their job entails. They must be monitored and also held responsible for their actions.”

He faulted journalists for not paying attention to accuracy, coherence, truth, clarity fairness and objectivity, and urged them to support the efforts of government in fighting internal security challenges.

The former Nigerian president also pointed out that most Nigerian journalists are partisan in their reportage, insisting that many reporters write from the viewpoint of the media owners.

“Media owners with political afflictions tend to be politically co-opted, thereby influencing editorial policy in line with their persuasions and are largely driven by the profit motive and are often ignore their social responsibility roles. Many Nigerian journalists are still partisan telling the news from the viewpoint of the owners of the media houses,” he added.

While declaring the event opened, Governor Amosun, urged media practitioners to work towards the unity and cohesion of the country.

He said, “It is imperative that journalists as professionals should always be on their guard against forces that seek to take advantage of the formidable power of the profession for their selfish ends.

“It has even become more important that the profession divest itself of partisanship, ensure objectivity in its reportage and inculcate investigate journalism if it desires to continue to remain relevant.”

The National President of NUJ, Mr Waheed Odusile, said the summit was in furtherance of the Union’s  commitment to promote national unity and also aimed at providing a platform for media practitioners to brainstorm over problems facing the country and find solutions to them.