Religious tolerance: SGF, NIREC task media practitioners on responsible reportage
By Bridget Ikyado
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Mustapha has tasked the media on effective investigative journalism that promotes peace between religious and ethnic groups in the country.
The SGF gave the charge at the 2023 second quarter meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the theme of the meeting, “Media and Effective Leadership for Nation Building,” was apt as the media is saddled with the responsibility of making credible and accurate information available to citizens and leaders.
He said that the media also serves as the mirror though which the government assesses its performance with a view to making the right decision to ensure quality leadership.
“I want to commend the media for the unflinching support over the year for the grown of democracy but there is more still left to do be done.
“Especially in the key areas of effective and investigative reportage that promotes peace and unity among members of religious and ethnic groups in the country,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of NIREC, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Omokhua said that religion has been so much weaponised that some pastors and imams use their worship centre and congregation for campaigns.
He said fanatic behave as though the elections are between Christianity and Islam and go as far releasing fake prophesies.
He said that media is often used to transmit tragic messages saying that social bloggers and reporters heat up the polity with fake and alarming news which could cause religious, ethnic and political conflicts.
The cleric said that the theme of the meeting was born from reflections on the situation and that experts had been invited to discuss the issues.
The President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Co-Chairman of NIREC, Rev. Daniel Okoh said that Nigerians are among the most resilient people in the world.
He said that recent event had tested the fate of the country but the people are determined to exist as on indivisible country.
Okoh said since independence in 1960, Nigerians have continued to work towards achieving social cohesion amidst setbacks.
He said that the media could contribute to enriching the conversation of leaders by providing well investigated and research stories to improve religious literacy.
Okoh said that the media have powers to cause crisis and information to set religious bodies on a collision cause.
“I urge all media practitioner to see their job as a calling and not as a profession that guarantees quick access to riches and fame.
“This is the attitude that will propel our media practitioners to eschew selfishness and work only for the good and development of their nation,” he said.
He, however, commended media practitioners that have refused to compromise standards and prayed God to bless them all.
The Sultan of Sokoto and Co-Chairman of the NIREC, Alh. Sa’adu Abubakar commended the SGF for his support for council.
Abubakar commiserated with the family of the former President of CAN and emeritus Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Rev. Sunday Mbang, under whom NIREC was established.
Mbang dead on Tuesday, at aged 86 the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
In a paper, veteran broadcaster, Eugenia Abu canvassed traning and retraining for media practitioners to improve their skill for better reportage.
She said that there was need to make funds available for media practitioners to engage in regional exchange programme to better understand issues cross the country.
She said that ownership and funding media organisations and the need to make profit was also a challenge.
Abu, however, urged practitioners to take social responsibility seriously in their reportage so as not to pitch one group against another.
She said they must ensure religious diversity in their practice and give all religious and ethnic group equal platform. (NAN)