Be strategic in criticising govt, Kwara gov’s aide charges Media

Date: 2023-11-30

Media organizations and practitioners across the country have been urged to take ownership of the Nigerian brand by being strategic while playing their roles as the fourth estate of the realm.

Speaking at the grand finale of the 2023 Annual Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Ilorin on Wednesday evening, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Kwara State governor, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, said that Nigerian journalists should be strategic while criticising governments.

Ajakaye’s address as the keynote speaker was themed, “Role of the Media in Nigeria Soft Power Conundrum”.

“Our population is surging every day; yet we have limited resources to get everything we need, especially human capital and foreign investments in our economy.

“But we cannot attract the right investments and human capital if we do not project Nigeria as safe and right for all. If all we do is to record the vilest videos of unsavoury development and splash the same on the internet or make it the banner headline that everyone sees across the world, we will be telling the world that our country is not safe.

“We can tell ourselves about our problems and work together to solve them or make scapegoats of the culprits. What we should stop doing is to put constant spotlight on the downsides of our society. No other nation does that”, the CPS said.

Ajakaye added that “deaths linked to violent crimes in Nigeria stood at 15,245 in 2022. In 2021, deaths associated with gun violence alone in the United States stood at 48,830, a 23% rise since 2019.

“But while Nigeria is often portrayed as a scary place to be, the United States is seen as a paradise where all is well 24/7.

“The difference is in the narratives that come with these statistics. While the US media establishments are quick to explain away the violence in their own country, sometimes calling it the acts of lone wolves or depression, the narrative here is often that this is happening because this is a failed system, ran aground by failed and corrupt governments.

“The image we carve for our country is what sticks to it. If we call it a failed state because of its imperfections and crises of nation building, which are hardly exclusive to it, the result we get is what we call it.

“All of the nations we call the bastion of democracy or glamorise with every positives have or have had their own failings or down moments, perhaps worse than ours, which they paper over with nice narratives and excuses in their pursuits of national branding”, he noted.

Ajakaye said he was “neither asking the media to abandon its noble roles of being the watchdog of our society nor saying it should renege its duty as the fourth estate of the realm.

“But I am asking that we strike a deliberate balance between being journalists who report developments and being patriotic citizens and stakeholders who, along with our generations unborn, are also affected by whatever happens to Nigeria.

“If many cable networks in the ‘democratic’ west deliberately do not convey to the international audience everything that goes wrong in their society or frame such in manners that do not damage their national brand, I appeal that we also de-emphasise negative profiling of our country. I ask that we filter out to the global audience every little downside of our society”, he added.

The CPS called on all media stakeholders, to “endeavour to give ourselves and our country good names at all times. We owe it a duty and responsibility to ourselves and our children to stand by this country that has given us so much”, he submitted.

In his address, the chairman of the Correspondent’s Chapel, Mallam AbdulHakeem Garba said despite its critical roles, journalists still remain an endangered species.

“We fight for the rights of others while we find ourselves at a loss when it’s time to fight for the rights of journalists”, he noted.

He called on the NUJ to get its acts together on the issue of non-payment of salaries and benefits which still abound.

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