Officials in diverse fields of national security, policy formulation and the media have called for collaboration between state institutions and the media in Nigeria.
The panellists spoke at a webinar organised to strengthen the relationship between state security institutions and civil society in Nigeria.
The programme, organised by the Whiteink Institute for Strategy Education and Research (WISER), held on Thursday, via Zoom.
The event brought together state actors, civil society organisations, journalists and others to discuss the rights, privileges and responsibilities of each in sustaining a free press.
In her opening remarks, the moderator of the event, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, a former member of the House of Representatives, said the role of the media could be related to national security and open civic space.
She said the media is an essential tool for democracy and nation-building.
In his keynote address, the chairman of the event, Abdulrahman Dambazau, a former Chief of Army of Staff, said the role of the media, if well utilised, is as important as the government’s role.
Mr Dambazau argued that the actions of the media in recent times is jeopardizing national interest.
He added that the interest of the mass media should not be in conflict with national interest.
In his contribution, the Lead Partner, SBM Intelligence, Cheta Nwanze, said apart from the primary function of the media to disseminate information, it also has an obligation to promote citizen’s fundamental rights and speak truth to power.
This, he said, can only be achieved when the state gives free “space” for dissent.
He also called for partnership between the media, civil society organisations and state institutions to attain national security.
In his submission, Sani Usman, a former spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, said the media plays a tremendous role in shaping democratic space.
According to him, checking the excesses of society is an area the media should pay more attention to.
Speaking on misinformation and fake news, Mr Usman said the spread of unverified news has undermined journalistic standards, adding that journalists should “shift from propaganda and unverified news.”
The former army publicist said he has had several instances where media outfits including national dailies infringed individual rights and neglected the basic ethics of Journalism.
In her closing remarks, Catherine Angai thanked the panellists, saying the main objective of the programme was to have a conversation that would guide and provide improved communication and partnerships between state agents and the Nigerian media.
“The general purpose of the webinar is to highlight the importance of collaborations between state institutions and the mass media in Nigeria,” she said.
This, she said, is to ensure the peace and stability of the nation alongside a thriving and liberal civic space.
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