Catholic, Muslim media practitioners emphasise peace building, religious tolerance

JOURNALISTS have been advised to uphold the ethics of their profession in the discharge of duties to the citizens and the nation at large.

This admonition was given at a one-day workshop organised by the Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN) and the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), held at Veritas University, Bwari, Abuja.

The workshop with the theme ‘Peace Building and Promotion of Religious Tolerance’ focused on the importance of peace in nation building and agreed that religious tolerance and harmony lead to peaceful coexistence.

The media practitioners were also urged to deemphasise ethnic differences, rise above factors that could lead to division in their reports and be circumspect about the reports that they publish about their country.

The acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, in his paper entitled ‘Media as a Tool for Social Change, Cohesion and Development’, said the Nigerian media had always been a tool for political development and which politicians use to achieve political gains.

The NBC DG said it was the responsibility of the media to de-emphasise ethnic differences and be a unifying force for the people and the society.

Idachaba said while good journalism builds social change, cohesion and national development, bad journalism leads to the breakdown of law and order.

“The media should always set a common progressive agenda and not one that will divide the country. No media should promote offensive reports that can incite violence and division. No media should be seen promoting or inciting provocative broadcast but they should rather promote decent transmission of social content for moral upbringing of the future generation.

“The media should report and broadcast what is professionally acceptable at all times to engender peace and harmony in the country,” Idachaba, a professor of Mass Communication, said.

Speaking on the same topic, a former Editor-in-Chief of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Alhaji Alli Hakeem, said lack of cohesion and failure to speak with one voice led to the fragmentation the country was witnessing today.

He said the media should embrace new ethos that would “take us back to what existed in the past.”

The former NAN chief said the media was not designed for extremists and naysayers to achieve their agenda but to report issues positively and forge cohesion and unity among the citizens.

He said the media should be circumspect about what they publish about the country, adding that media reports must be accurate, objective, truthful, fair and balanced.

Also, a former Editor at Media Trust Limited, Hajiya Aisha Umaru Yusuf; National Director (Communications), Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Reverend Father Mike Umoh and the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Samson Ayokunle, in separate papers, agreed that journalists must be at the forefront of promoting religious and peaceful coexistence in the country.

They said journalists should be agents of progress and stability and must not be seen as taking sides.

They also urged the media to be neutral, fair and accurate in their news contents.

According to them, mankind is one, irrespective of colour, religious, political and social beliefs.

In their remarks, CAMPAN and MMPN presidents, Mr Patrick Osu and Alhaji Abdur Rahman Balogun, said the workshop was organised to promote interaction between Muslim and Christian media practitioners and to call on politicians and those in positions of authority to fulfil their campaign promises.

Delegates at the workshop were drawn from Kwara, Borno, Benue and Lagos states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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