Nigerian Guild of Editors at the weekend warned that security challenges, which have seen terrorists, bandits, armed herdsmen and other criminal elements holding the nation to ransom and threatening its survival and development, could tear the country to shreds.
The guild hich made the remarks Editors during its 17th All Nigerian Editors Conference declared that the problem of insecurity is taking a huge toll on societal life and posting negative development indices in several areas.
They also called for healthy and harmonious collaboration between the media and the security agencies in the fight against insecurity while insisting that peace and development cannot thrive in times of crises.
They said governments at all levels have a responsibility to defend, protect and provide for its citizens
In a communique signed by the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, after the annual ANEC held on October 21 and October 22, the Editors said the security crises stemmed from leadership failure that has bedevilled the country for many years.
They said: “There are fears in some quarters that editors and media professionals seem to have taken sides in the raging crises. That journalists and security agents who are first line responders to every flash points appear locked in mutual suspicion.”
Noting that journalists are oftentimes impaired and harassed by security agents from carrying out their professional responsibilities, the conference said peace and development, which are germane to further advancement of Nigeria cannot thrive in times of crises
The conference resolved that “governments at all levels have a responsibility to defend, protect and provide for its citizens. That agitations for self-determination, which are raging in the South-East, South-West and the South-South regions do not augur well for the unity of the country.
“The conference called for an end to raging insecurity so that citizens can conduct their normal lives in an atmosphere of peace and concord.
“That there’s need for healthy and harmonious collaboration between the media and the security agencies in the fight against insecurity.
‘“There is a need for security agents to appreciate the role of Journalists and media professionals and refrain from anything that will abridge it.”
The conference also advised editors and other media professionals to ensure they are conflict-sensitive and ensure they do not publish stories capable of inflaming ethnic, regional and religious passion and also called for urgent need to tackle the monster of misinformation and sanitise the media against unprofessional and unethical behaviour.
The conference also urged government to support the survival of the media as part of the task of building the nation’s democracy and avoid any acts that will put the media in chains.
While calling on the Federal Government to confront issues that have given rise to the demands of the different self-determination groups, the conference advised it to endeavour to deal with the different sections of the country on the basis of fairness, equity and justice.
The Editors added: “There is need for government to ensure that its policies and actions are sensitive to the multi ethnic and religious makeup of the country.
“Government needs to commit more resources to education, healthcare and tackle the rising costs of food and other social services.”
The conference, which had no fewer than 350 editors in attendance, was chaired by a veteran journalist, Ray Ekpu, with the Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Malam Mele Kolo Kyari, as Special Guest of Honour, and the President, Newspapers Proprietors of Nigeria, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, as Guest of Honour.
The conference also featured other guests, including Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State; Nasir El Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, srepresented by his Special Adviser on Inter Governmental Affairs, Hajia Hannatu Dalhat; and Adegboyega Oyetola, Governor of State of Osun, srepresented by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Prince Abdullah Adeyanju Binuyo.
A major highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the book chronicling 60 years of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, titled: “Uneven Steps: The Story Of The Nigerian Guild of Editors,” written by Lanre Idowu.
It was reviewed by James Akpandem James.
The two-day conference ended with a 60th anniversary dinner, which featured the induction of eight new Fellows and 13 new Members.