A Two day National Conference with a Theme “HATE SPEECH: HALTING THE TIDE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE” organized by The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with support from the Kano State Government was held at the Coronation Hall of Government House, Kano, on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th February, 2018.
Five hundred (500) Participants made up of Veteran and Senior Journalists, former Presidents, Ex National Officers, The President and all members of the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Delegates from all the 36 States and the FCT Councils of the NUJ attended the Conference which was the second annual National Conference convoked by the NUJ to engage the Stakeholders of the Nigerian Media in a discourse for a more united and prosperous nation devoid of rancor and acrimony.
It was equally aimed at sensitizing media practitioners on their obligations to the society of objective reportage of events and their constitutional duty of being responsible for holding Government accountable to the people.
The workshop featured lecture presentations and discussions on various topics by scholars, veterans and working journalists aimed at sensitizing the participants on how best the media can discharge its responsibilities and to face the surmounting current challenges of the Hate Speech phenomenon.
Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was the Guest of Honor and declared the Conference open. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Deaconess Grace Isu Gekpe, delivered a Keynote Address while a former President of the NUJ and member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Mohammad Sani Zorro served as Chairman of the occasion.
The following Addresses, Papers and Topical issues on the theme of the workshop were presented and discussed:
Speech by the NUJ National President Abdulwaheed Odusile
Address of the Guest of Honour, Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
Keynote Address of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The Speech of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi II, represented by the District Head of Rogo, Alhaji Mohammed Mahraz.
The Address of the Chairman of the Occasion,
Alhaji Muhammad Sani Zorro.
“Why Hate Speech is not free Speech:” by the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari.
“Media against Hate Speech: Upholding ethical standards:” by Y.Z.Ya’u, Executive Director, Centre for Information and Technology Development (CITAD), Kano.
“Role of Journalism in the Digital Age:” by Mr Lanre Arogundade, Director International Press Centre, Lagos.
“Building a more effective Union:” Comrade Issa Aremu, General Secretary, National Union of Textile and Garment Workers of Nigeria.
DURING THE PRESENTATIONS, DISCUSSIONS, QUESTIONS AND ANSWER SESSIONS, IT
THE CONCENSUS OF THE GUESTS, RESOURCE PERSONS AND THE PARTICIPANTS THAT:
The conventional definition of Hate Speech as “Verbal or Written Negative comments on Persons or Groups on the basis of attributes such as Race, Religion, Ethnic origin, Gender or Physical disability shall be adopted”
Recent worrisome developments in the polity by various regional groups clamouring for geo-political interests have exerted pressure on the fabric that holds the nation.
The Mass Media notably the Social Media phenomena are the main promoters of Hate Speech that in-turn breeds socio-political anarchy, ethno-religious conflicts and retard progress and prosperity.
The theme of the Conference is appropriate at this moment when the country is undergoing a “Transformational Change” in our quest to strengthen national unity and consolidate democratic governance.
Media Practitioners should “Halt the Tide” of Hate Speech, promote National cohesion, love and unity, project the truth, teach ethical values, exhibit utmost respect for culture and tradition as well as caution in reportage.
They shall also adhere to the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists and promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace and international understanding and should strive to enhance national unity and public good.
While objective and constructive criticisms that stimulated healthy developmental programs and policies were the hallmarks of politics and editorial contents of the media in the past, current political pronouncements and news reportage are capable of causing social and political upheavals.
Conference welcomes steps being taken by the Federal Government through the relevant agencies to strictly enforce the Cyber Crime Act of 2015 that stipulates a punishment of five years imprisonment or a fine of N10m on anyone convicted of an offence threatening violence or insulting people based on ethnic group, religion or race.
Conference encourages journalists to take advantage of all that digital technology offers in the gathering and dissemination of news. Journalists should also adapt to digital technologies; intensify convergence for economic survival; Defend Digital/Internet rights in the context of freedom of expression and the right of the citizens to know, which fundamentally gives journalism its legitimacy;
Political, Religious, Traditional and or other leaders should lead by example and control themselves, their aides and followers against hate speech.
While the Constitutional right of freedom of speech and association remains inviolable, political campaigns and speeches in whatever form should be issues-based and within the limits of the rules of the game. Governance is about people and thus the guiding principle should be self-preservation as politics is for the living and not for the dead.
Journalists as the watchdog of the society and the “fourth estate of the realm” should stem the trend, encourage freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and uphold the fundamental objectives contained in chapter II of the Constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.
Stakeholders of the Nigerian Media Landscape should synergize with National and State Legislatures to come up with legislations that will check the excesses and unprofessional operations of the media particularly the social media.
While Self regulatory mechanism is another alternative means of enforcing professionalism, the Nigeria Union of Journalists as the umbrella professional platform of media practice in the country should educate its members on the importance of self respect, discipline and to always stand by the truth and justice.
In recognition of the urgent need to enhance the working condition of journalists in the country; and considering that there can be no freedom of expression or freedom of the press where journalists work under precarious situations and are exposed to poverty or fear; conference calls for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to enhance salaries, allowances, pensions and general condition of service for media professionals.
The recent Federal Government directive to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction any Radio or Television station that turns their platforms to purvey hate speech is a welcome development. Conference enjoins the NBC to live up to its responsibilities by monitoring and applying the relevant sections of the law on erring broadcast stations.
Conference calls for the resuscitation of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) to play its rightful role.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists should institutionalize the National Conference as an annual event for members and other stakeholders in the media industry to discuss topical and national or international issues.
Conference appreciates the hospitality of the People of Kano State and thanks the Government under Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for supporting the NUJ to successfully host the 2ND NUJ NATIONAL CONFERENCE.
Participants note the giant strides recorded by the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje administration of Kano State in his development programmes particularly the policy of continuity and consolidation on all uncompleted or abandoned projects inherited from previous governments. Conference appreciates the worker-friendly posture of the administration with no report of a single industrial dispute or unrest in the last three years with prompt and constant remuneration of workers and payment of pension to retirees.
Conference commended Kano State government for resuscitating the Triumph Publishing Company, funding the digitization of its two electronic media outfits in addition to the bail out of Radio Kano with financial support and other logistics.
Shuaibu Usman Leman
Walin Shadalafiya Secretary, NUJ.
Kano, Wednesday 21st February, 2018.