As the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has identified the Nigerian media as a critical moderating stakeholder in the process of achieving a free, fair and peaceful election in the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr. Garba Abari made this assertion when he paid a working visit to some media organisations in Kaduna State as part of the pre-election sensitization of key stakeholders in the country including the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Zonal Offices in Kaduna State.
Abari who said the period of elections require careful management of perception and reality in view of the pervading onslaught of the social media, especially the menace of fake news and hate messages, urged the management of the two government media agencies in Kaduna to assume that critical role of moderation through robust public enlightenment of citizens.
He urged both organizations not to yield its powers to the social media saying the mainstream media “must be active as agenda setter, moderator and clearing house for news, views and opinions”. He recounted the several prediction of doom during the last two general elections in 2011 and 2015, saying Nigerians will once more prove naysayers wrong.
The Director General said the goal of the Agency is to improve on the successes of the previous elections through the mobilization of citizens and voters to participate and be agents of peace during the election.
He said the Agency is working tirelessly to build an environment of tolerance, peaceful co-existence, dignity and mutual respect among Nigerians irrespective of religious and political affiliations.
The DG NOA called on the management of the media houses to strengthen the partnership and broaden the collaboration that has existed between NOA and the media to support programmes that preach unity and oneness of citizens.
Explaining that the youth form the bulk of the country’s population and are very active on the social media with access to fake and unedited media content, Abari urged the media to design programmes that will cater for that segment of the society.
In his remarks, the NTA Zonal Director, Lawal Ahmed said the partnership with NOA over the years has been cordial and fruitful for the development of Nigeria. Ahmed said the NTA has gone digital in addition to its analogue platforms and has very wide coverage and easier accessibility. He expressed the commitment of the NTA Kaduna Zonal Office to deepen the synergy in the interest of national development.