Akiotu Hails the Media for Sustaining Democracy Since 1999 – THISDAY Newspapers

Okon Bassey in Uyo

The Group Managing Director of Daar Communications Plc, Mr. Tony Akiotu, has said that the media in the country should be praised in the efforts to restore and ensure the sustenance of democracy after many years of military dictatorship.
Akiotu stated this yesterday at the 2022 retreat organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State that ends in Abuja today (Wednesday).
The four-day retreat has as it theme “In search of a better Nigeria through Responsible Journalism”.
He noted that the media stood resolutely against military rule and  ùnbroken democracy since civilian rule was installed.  In a keynote address titled “The Trajectory of Nigeria Media: Past, Present and Future” Akiotu said modern day media have also lived above board.
Represented by the Group News Editor of Daar Communications Plc, Adebayo Bodurin, he said  “It has been globally acknowledged that the Nigerian media stood firm in the struggle to restore democracy.”
He posited that in spite of operating under an inclement political atmosphere, which recorded detention, physical elimination, repression, persecution, unjust imprisonment, arrests, seizure of market ready publications and forced closure of media houses, the Nigerian media was resolute in the discharge of its responsibility.
“It remained the last bastion of hope for the people. Journalists in the privately owned newspapers, many of whom, survived deprivations including loss of means of livelihood played heroic roles.
“Some paid the supreme price. The privately owned news magazines and newspapers played appreciable roles in the rebirth of hope in our national life after the several decades of military dictatorship.
 “Not thinking of wages or remuneration, journalists put their lives on the line in the struggle for freedom, civil liberties and constitutional rule,” he said.
 Akiotu, however, lamented that even after two decades the plant of democracy is not yet mature,  stressing that it must be nurtured so that its lofty values can flourish.
He said:”The greatest challenge before the media, both print and electronic, in Nigeria is how they engage with election coverage in a season of anomie when things are seemingly no longer at ease and things are falling apart.
“For the media, perhaps the watchword is eternal vigilance. The agenda which the media must champion is the continued existence of the Nigerian nation, the protection of our democratic values, the resistance against arbitrary, autocratic and unconstitutional rule, the upholding of the rule of law, the promotion of mass articipation in the entire electoral process.
“The guarantee of civil rights and liberties, the promotion of universal adult suffrage, the protection and upholding of the mandate of the people, the orderly conduct of the entire electoral process and the installation of credible democratic institutions founded on openness, integrity and transparency.
 “The media has an abiding responsibility to ensure a successful transition from one civilian government to another civilian administration, elected and installed through the instrumentality of our national constitution in February next year. No more, no less”.
Akiotu appealed to the media not to undermine public patronage and confidence by strengthening with unwavering zeal the bond in their own enlightened interest. 
“One sure way of achieving this is the promotion of ethical journalism to ensure equitable access to all political parties and their standar- bearers credibility, integrity, good ethical conduct, fairness, accuracy and balance reports.
“Professionalism in handling opinion polls. No endorsement of political parties and their candidates. Avoidance of hate speech and fake news,” he enthused.
He also urged journalists to ensure  unyielding desire to promote credible, free, fair, peaceful and popular polls. “Be a watchdog to expose electoral fraud impose on themselves the task of promoting good governance as well as good democratic     practices.
“Inform, educate and if possible, entertain the voters to freely make informed and right choices at the polls,” he stressed
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