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US urges Nigerian media to strengthen democratic process

The U.S. Consul-General in Lagos, Mr. John Bray, on Tuesday, reminded the Nigerian media of their roles in promoting transparency and accountability in the country’s democratic process.

He said this at an event to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day, organised by the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos for media practitioners from different organisations.

The consul-general said it was imperative for Nigerian journalists to know that Nigerians always relied on the media for truthful and objective information.

He added that “in a democracy, there has to be transparency and accountability.

“The press is saddled with the burden of holding government responsible for actions or inactions.

“The Nigerian people rely on the media for truthful and objective information, and this is the burden you all have to bear in a democracy.

“Today, your profession as journalists is strategically positioned to make meaningful contributions on the part of the voiceless.”

Bray appealed to journalists to sustain their “good work’’ by probing deeper so as to be able to contribute to strengthening Nigeria’s democracy.

Prof. Lai Oso, the Dean, School of Communication, University of Lagos, said information was a strategic resource in a society when people contest for power and resources.

Oso said that majority of people did not have access to information in their communities and across the country.

He, therefore, noted that that it was imperative for Nigeria to have a more comprehensive information dissemination system in place, including the use of community radio.

The dean urged Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to be involved in the nation’s information dissemination system, saying “NGOs are not involved in communication in Nigeria. We really need NGOs to come out and enlighten their communities through the media.

“Access to information should be a means to an end. It should be targeted at empowering people to participate in elections and policies.”

The President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Waheed Odusile, also urged the Nigerian media to champion the cause of ensuring good governance in the country.

He said that the press must be free to be able to discharge its responsibility and announced the union’s plan to soon sponsor a bill to the National Assembly for the welfare of journalists.

He advised journalists to always apply “commonsense’’ in doing their assignments to avoid being harassed, molested, kidnapped or killed.

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