(Information Minister’s Press Crew) – Nigeria’s Information Minister, Labaran Maku has appealed to the media to always set the agenda for the development and unity of the country, rather than exhibit partisan interest in the polity. He was speaking during a courtesy call on him by the management of the Peoples Daily Newspaper, who invited him to be one of the discussants at their forthcoming annual conference with the theme “Nigeria, the 2015 Question.”
The Minister said that as the 2015 general elections draw near, the media are supposed to provide platforms for politicians to debate issues, programmes and policies and not allow them to use the media to propagate hate messages and threaten violence, if the elections do not go the way they want.
“The media must exhibit national interest in their reportage unless we no longer want to promote Nigeria. Then, we would have to answer the question whether we are really serving our nation’s interest. I don’t understand why because the country has election in 2015, the whole nation should appear as if it is preparing for something different,” he said.
He further remarked that what people expect to see from political parties at this time is the preparation of costumes as well as the dance troupes which would dramatise during their campaigns and show people the cultures of Nigeria. He averred that this is what happens in democracies; saying politicians are rather scaring the public and making them to be afraid.
Labaran Maku reminded the media that as gatekeepers, their roles in the elections are not just to report events; but also to moderate extreme views and comments capable of threatening the unity, peace and stability of the country. He also informed them that elections depend on the atmosphere of events; saying when the atmosphere is heated up, there is likely to be problems.
According to him, the atmosphere of elections ought to be designed by the media and politicians not by the Independent National Electoral Commission. He added that stakeholders need to work hard on this, indicating that though not an easy task, efforts should be made to simplify the processes. He called on the public to make efforts to sensitise people and make them believe that the country is only engaging in electoral activities and that during this election, parties will field candidates, whereby some will win and others lose.
He urged journalists to promote national consciousness among Nigerians so that the activities and comments of the fractured elite do not divide the people along ethnic and religious lines. The Minister equally encouraged media outfits to organize some forum where Nigerians could gather, brainstorm and exchange views on how to enhance development and the democratic process of the country.
Speaking earlier in the occasion, the Chief Operating Officer of the Peoples Daily Newspaper, Ali M. Ali said that the organisation is providing a platform through its annual conference for stakeholders to discuss and analyse issues likely to dominate the 2015 elections.
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