MINISTER of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, and Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishaq Oloyede, on Thursday called for positive government-media engagement in order not to undermine national development and security.
They gave the charge while addressing the 7th Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) which held at the African Continental Hotel, Abuja (former Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers).
In his opening remarks as Chairman of the event, which held under the theme: “Nigeria: Roadmap For Socio-Economic Recovery and sustainability,” Prof. Oloyede said any country with effective and strong media stands a better chance of attaining sustainable development.
According to him, the media should not be seen as adversaries but partners which government will deliberately collaborate with view to making them more credible and sustainable.
“If we are to attain the socio-economic and political progress we badly need, we cannot treat the media as adversaries and as entities whose health or ill-health shouldn’t concern us and the presence of the Presidency of Nigeria at this occasion convinces me that we are on the right path towards effective government-media partnership,” Oloyede said, adding that the media should not deliberately undermine national security in carrying out their constitutional duty as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
The JAMB Registrar said in order to enhance productivity in public and private sectors of the economy, government should extend the code of corporate governance to all major actors of the Nigerian economy.
“Government should come out, without further delay with code of corporate governance and make it mandatory for public sector institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and small and medium enterprises that represent over 97% of businesses operating in Nigeria.
“When this is done, I believe there would be improvement in governance of government, non-governmental and private entities in Nigeria which would help to unlock their values for prosperity of Nigerians and sustainable development of the country because, when commensurable remunerations are paid, productivity can be enhanced, and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be set to ensure service delivery,” Oloyede said, adding that the code of conduct and standard operating procedures should be put in place to address the leakages that fuel corruption, ineptitude, and inefficiency.
Information and National Orientation minister, on his part charged online publishers to promote positive reports on Nigeria, declaring that it is crucial to the socio-economic growth and development of the country.
Speaking on the theme, Idris said a strategic component of the roadmap for socio-economic recovery and sustainability should be the projection of the country in good light, adding that by so doing, foreign direct investment and other developmental plans of the country would be achieved.
“If you say you want foreign direct investment, you want Nigeria to grow, and you want every good thing that happens to all great countries in the world to happen in this country, you must be prepared to project your own country; nobody else will do it for us,” the minister said.
He urged GOCOP to carry out its responsibility with patriotism and professionalism, noting that the good things happening in the country far outweigh the bad things, and they should be projected. “As Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, you have this great responsibility to ensure that you report only the truth and to help government officials to also tell the truth; it is your responsibility and you have to uphold it.”
The minister urged GOCOP not to relent in its quest to sanitise and get rid of fake news carried by online media but to continue to sustain its peer review system and disciplinary measures against erring members.
Restating government’s commitment to return credibility to the business of governance in the country and calling on Nigerians to be optimistic with the Tinubu administration whom he said is working assiduously to chart a roadmap for the socio-economic recovery and sustainability of the country, Idris said Nigerians should trust people they elected.
“You have to trust the person you have elected, and that’s the only way you can hold him accountable when he goes overboard,” Idris said.
In her welcome address, Ms Maureen Chigbo, who was re-elected for a second term as GOCOP President, said GOCOP will continue to ensure that it upholds professionalism which its members are known for, adding that not all online publishers are members of the guild due to its insistence on a mechanism to check and sanction erring members who do not play by the rules.
“We will continue to work towards making sure that our members are professionals because professionalism is our watchword,” Chigbo said stressing that the principal objective of GOCOP was to bring members together for a more effective online journalism.
She advised the public to shun the negative perception about online journalism just as she also called on newly admitted members who were eventually inducted at the end of the conference to shun fake news and uphold ethical and professional practice. She warned that anyone found wanting would be sanctioned.
Among the newly inducted members of GOCOP include the publisher/Editor-in-Chief of National Record, Iduh L. Onah, Lekan Arowona of Royal News, Bisi Bamise of bisladnews.com, Udochukwu Onyeka of Newbusiness Nigeria and Idumonsa Isidahinmen of OpenLife.
Other inductees are Adeola Yusuf of Platforms Africa, Olabisi Deji-Folutile of Franktalk, Peter Oluka of Techeconomy and Amos Adetunji of The Decisionmakers Online.
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The event had in attendance Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination, Hadiza Bala-Usman; and Air Marshal Hassan Bala, who represented the Chief of Air Staff.