Bolaji Abdulahi, the former Minister of Sport and Youth development has said that the biggest threat to the nation’s democracy is the prevailing extreme monetization of politics and political process by some Nigeria political actors.
Abdullahi, who stated this on Wednesday while delivering a lecture, titled, ‘Re-engaging the Media for Credible Democracy’ at the 2022 annual press week celebration of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Kwara State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ilorin, posits that politicians had nearly turned political process to a business transaction.
According to him, the development had brought out all manner of people canvassing for elective offices, added that it is capable of making electorate poorer and miserable in the long run.
He said, “When politicians pay people to vote for them, the act has taken away capability of the people to decide who govern them. And I think it is the same as soldiers using gun to be in power and politicians using power of dollars to be in power.”
Abdulahi explained that the quality of journalism practice in the country is a reflection of the nation’s democracy, added that journalists should be able to deepen the nation’s democracy.
“Journalists should be able play constitutional roles as enshrined in the nation’s Constitution. That is, media practitioners should be able to hold government accountable for adequate provision of education, job opportunity, security, corrupt practices and abuse of power”, he explained.
The guest speaker noted that the constitutional rights of journalists are not sufficient to play expected roles in deepening the nation’s democracy, adding that it is the ability and capability of journalists to act in exercising the rights.
Also speaking at the event, a legal luminary, Lateef Fagbemi, a professor and SAN, who was represented by Wahab Egbewole SAN, called for restructuring of journalism practice ahead of the 2023 elections.
”Journalists are regarded as watchdogs, hence their role in electioneering process can’t be underestimated. We need to call attention to what journalists should be doing for setting agenda for 2023.
”There is need for restructuring of journalism practice in Nigeria because you must report what is seen and not what the news maker wants to be reported.
”We also need to leverage on technology because as journalists, you are working well but other users of social media platforms are bastardizing the ethics of the profession.
Fagbemi also said that it was also important that journalists separate themselves from premodial sentiments beclouding the country like ethnicity and religion.
”Journalists also need to strive to maintain impartiality, independence and balance”, he advised.
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin