Democracy Cannot Thrive Without Free, Responsible Media – Arewa Media Forum

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By: Joy Odor/Kaduna

The Leaders of Arewa Media Forum has stressed that democracy cannot thrive without a free and responsible media, saying it is the responsibility of media practitioners to promote and protect the fragile democracy to survive.

According to them, the print, social and electronic media should jettison the old-fashioned policy of self- censorship, and a way should be found to control the excesses of social media.

They frowned on the need for the media editors and other gate-keepers of news and information outlets to uphold fairness, truth and accuracy.

This was contained in a communique issued after its one-day seminar on Hate Speech and Electoral Violence organized by the Arewa Media Forum which was chaired by the Emir of Kazaure, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Najeeb Hussein, on Saturday, 9th of February, 2019 at Arewa House Kaduna State.

They opined that it is unacceptable that Hate Speech is yet to be codified under Nigerian law and that the bill making hate speech punishable now before the National Assembly should be passed without delay.

According to them, Nigerians must learn how to say no to incitement to violence by politicians, pointing out that there should be social re-orientation so that politicians should learn to accept the outcome of elections, embrace and congratulate the winner and comfort the loser.

The communique also stated that “special courts should be set up to quickly deal with electoral offences. There is need for politicians to evolve a culture of political contest where there is always a winner and a loser without bitterness.

“We are all aware that democracy does not thrive on violence. Government should enhance massive voter education and job creation.

“Adequate security measures should be put in place to ensure law and order is maintained especially by politicians before, during and after the political campaigns, rallies and elections.

“There is need to develop effective policies that could address the problem of youth restiveness and unemployment.” They stressed.

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