President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, has challenged the Nigerian media to set an agenda for a brighter tomorrow for the country.
Lawan acknowledged that the media had a crucial role to play in averting national crises and anarchy through positive actions that douses tension across the country and stabilizes the polity.
The Senate President made the remarks in a speech delivered on Thursday at the 10th Anniversary and 2020 Impact Series Awards of Blueprint Newspapers in Abuja.
Lawan, who chaired the occasion, said efforts must be made by the media to provide proper context to issues, as doing so would in turn ensure national unity and reshape public opinion.
He, therefore, called on the media in Nigeria to reaffirm their faith in Nigeria and rededicate themselves to their role as the fourth estate of the realm.
He said, “That role requires them to responsibly moderate public conversation and debate, douse tension, resolve disputes including providing context for issues, and help in stabilising the polity.
“In this age of information, the media plays a crucial role in creating national unity and remodeling of public opinions.
“It is true that public opinion is always disturbed during a crisis. But in such situations, the media can control the public emotions and public opinion with a positive attitude.
“Without positive attitude in the media, even the best efforts of policy makers and government cannot produce results.
“Let us remember that crisis is inevitable in society. Indeed, it drives development when properly managed.
“The Nigerian media must, therefore, always seek to help the nation turn its crises into wheels of progress.
“This they can do by providing useful information to calm the people and encourage them to do positive actions.
“In the current situations, the media should seek information only from credible sources in order to limit the spread of fake news.
“They should avoid information that is capable of inciting violence and reprisals.
“When law and order succumb to anarchy, even lawmakers, journalists and journalism are endangered”, Lawan said.
The Senate President lauded Blueprint Newspaper for its patriotic desire to contribute positively towards building a stable democracy in Nigeria, as well as promoting unity, peace and prosperity.
“I consider your choice in this respect highly commendable, especially in the light of many around you losing their heads and reputation to the urge to bait clicks, with sensational headlines and odious stories that promote hat and division in the country,” he said.
Speaking on the security crises in the country, Lawan lamented that the spate of insecurity in recent times had taken “an alarming dimension with killings, kidnappings and wanton attacks on public facilities becoming daily events in many parts of the country.”
He added that, “while government is forthright and unrelenting in its efforts to contain the security challenges, the crisis is certainly being aggravated by people cynically projecting our ethnic, religious, cultural and geographical diversities as the primary cause of political instability and social insecurity in Nigeria.”
On the ongoing constitution review exercise, the Senate President disclosed that the National Assembly had received hundreds of memoranda from across the country and many bills proposed for consideration.
According to him, the exercise seeks to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions such as the Legislature and the Judiciary at the national and sub-national levels, the local government system, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society.
He explained that the move would check abuses and strife responsible for holding back the development of Nigeria’s economy and polity.