(Lagos, Feb 9, 2010) Communicating For Change (CFC), Nigeria's leading development communications organization urged the broadcast media to help pave the way to successful elections at a forum for television and radio stations focusing on "the Role of the Media In Successful Elections" held in Lagos on Tuesday,February 8th 2011, at Terra Kulture.
The forum was attended by Chief Executive Officers and program heads of radio and television stations and the print media and a lively panel discussion highlighted the responsibility of the media in entrenching democracy through proper and credible elections. The discussion was moderated by John Momoh, Chairman of Channels TV and panelists were Professor Ralph Akifeleye (Head of the University of Lagos Department of Mass Communications), Dr Ngozi Iwere (Executive Director, Community Life Project), and Mr. Olufemi Ayeni (Zonal Director, National Broadcasting Commission).
As Nigeria prepares for the 2011 country-wide polls, participants discussed the challenges facing the media in election reporting as well as the importance of emphasizing that voters have sufficient information to choose good leaders.
Communicating for Change, who hosted the event, presented a series of new films and radio programs, based on the opinions, fears and hopes of people interviewed across the nation. The short dramas highlight the need for voters to overcome their fear of election violence, and apathy and mistrust that elections will probably be rigged, and actively choose the right leaders to bring about change in Nigeria.
"These films address people's misgivings and through drama, encourage people to exercise their right to vote in order to ensure development across Nigeria," said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, CFC's Founder. "A non partisan media which provides a platform for discussion of issues of public concern in a fair and honest way, and which provides airtime for messages that educate the public to make the right decision is in the best interest of the media."
She challenged journalists to rise up and create strong platforms for socially relevant messages to guide Nigerians in the right direction and empower them to choose democracy and good governance over bribery, corruption, and dirty politics ahead of the 2011 nationwide elections.
In his presentation titled "Perspectives on the Role of the Media in Successful Elections", Professor Ralph Akinfeleye noted that the mass media is the engine oil that lubricates the heart of a sustainable democracy, saying media professionals must see themselves as trustees of the public trust and acceptance of anything short of this is a betrayal of trusteeship.
He explained that the role of the media has gone beyond that of being a watchdog , setting the agenda, or checking and balancing on government to becoming the common carrier of ideas of election processes.
According to Akinfeleye, the media must monitor the government and politicians during elections, inform the people about election and political manifestoes and interpret electoral laws for better understanding of the voting public; journalists must adhere strictly to the professional ethical code of practice before, during and after elections.
Channels Chairman Mr. Mommoh who moderated the session, assured forum participants that broadcasters would provide the public with qualitative election debates in a bid to help people scrutinize political office aspirants ahead of the country-wide polls in April. He also called for an urgent passage of the Feedom of Information Bill, to enable the press perform its functions optimally.
CFC's films and radio programmes are part of a broader media campaign to increase awareness of and demand for effective government, an efficient electoral system, and improved public participation in the Nigerian socio-political process with the ultimate goal of contributing to the growth of democracy, good governance and economic and social development in Nigeria. The films and radio programs are being made available to ardio and television stations across the country at similar broadcasters forums being planned in Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
The dramas were produced after extensive audience research and in partnership with civil society (the Community Life Project, Development Communications Network, Media Rights Agenda, and the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism) who provided guidance on content; the project was funded by the Ford Foundation.
About Communicating for Change
Communicating for Change (CFC), one of Nigeria's leading development communications organisations, produces film, radio, television, print, and web based media to tell development stories from an African point of view, ensuring that audiences across the continent are empowered to make informed choices.
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) is a registered not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation with social justice programs aimed at exposing corruption, regulatory failures and human rights abuses with the tool of investigative journalism.
Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS)
Development Communications (DEVCOMS) Network is a media-development, capacity-building non-governmental organization coordinated by experienced development journalists.
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) is a non-governmental organisation working for the promotion and protection of press freedom and freedom of expression in Nigeria. It has Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
Community Life Project (CLP)
Community Life Project (CLP) is one of Nigeria's leading Non-Governmental Organisations promoting participatory grassroots development and community empowerment.