Gov.Bello acknowledges power of vibrant press

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By Correspondent in Lokoja.

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has described a truly free and vibrant press as more powerful than the three traditional Arms of Government combined.

Bello made the postulation while delivering his address of welcome at the Opening session of the Nigerian Media Merit (Nmma) Awards, 2021 holding in Lokoja, Kogi State.

“We are, therefore, the Big Heart at the Centre of the Nation! The term, ‘fourth estate of the realm’ with reference to the media and her practitioners is attributed to Edmund Burke, a British parliamentarian of the 18th century,” he said.

Gov. Bello also acknowledged the importance of the three Arms of Government, but noted that the ‘fourth estate is equally powerful.’

He noted that modern society could not do without journalists, adding that the world would be a scary and dark place without the Journalism profession.

Bello said that aside dispelling falsehood, eliminating dangerous assumptions, the Journalists provide societies with the basic premises upon which governance and other decisions can be made.

The governor,who disclosed that while journalists helped to bring order to society and engendered human cooperation, however lamented that lives and whole societies had been ruined by the irresponsible practice of journalism by some media practitioners, or quacks who impersonate them.

According to him, ” the use of the tools of the journalist’s trade to deal in hate speech has set off many a fire which ultimately consumes whole politics and their people.

“Fake news is ubiquitous nowadays, whether it is rumour-mongering, dangerous innuendo, character assassination or other forms of inaccurate reportage.

“The problem is so endemic that in Q3 2020 alone, statistics shows there were 1.8 billion engagements with fake news on Facebook alone! Nigeria, like many countries, has fallen victim to it many times, sometimes with devastating loss of lives or properties.

” The Press is therefore one of the inescapable hallmarks of modern society and in particular the custodian of public perception. What a divine responsibility”.

While noting the usefulness of Journalists,Bello urged that they function within the ambits of verity and veracity and in line with demands of propriety.

The Governor also called on the Media to regulate itself with the help of the Law to avoid malfunction, insisting that Practitioners must recognise that due to the incredible powers which society has entrusted to them, “there is a corresponding demand for responsibility, ethics and professionalism in the exercise of those powers by journalists.”

Gov. Bello also called on journalists to stand up and be counted when it comes to taking back their profession from the quacks and the hacks, stressing the need to regulate and curtail myriad of unregulated persons, armed with Internet-enabled devices who haunt the media space, especially on social media.

The Governor described the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA) Trust as perhaps, one of the most important institutions which could exist right now, saying that by rewarding merit in the way individuals and media houses practice journalism, the NMMAs provides critical motivation for the real journalists to do their work professionally.

He also noted that by so doing, the NMMAs would help promote sanity in the industry and simultaneously function as an accountability partner for most professional journalists.

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