By Olusola Alatise
Ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Osun State Journalists have been charged to adequately inform the electorate in making the right choice rather than write or publish what can cause violence.
This is just as the media have been described as inevitable in the development of the society and must not relent in sustaining such role.
These are the submissions of various stakeholders at the just concluded 3-day workshop on Conflict Sensitive Reportage for media practitioners in Osun State and its environs.
The well attended workshop held in Ibadan the Oyo State capital was organised by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP in conjunction with the government of the State of Osun.
Declaring open the workshop, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said Journalists are the conscience of the people and the society.
Represented by his Commissioner for Economic Planning , Yinusa Olalekan, Aregbesola said whatever people read or hear from the media has lasting effects on the choice they make and charged Journalists in Osun State and beyond to remain responsible.
UNDP country Director, Samuel Bwalya in his opening remarks said the need to accurately inform the people to make the right political decision and choice should be prioritised.
Represented by the Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Manager, Mutiu Alao, Bwalya said the workshop is to brainstorm on how they can use their various platforms and privileged positions to foster peace and promote sustainable development in Nigeria.
He said people trust media to the extent that whatever news that is shown out is taken as the gospel truth saying that political news particularly around election period in the country often evokes sentiment and fray nerves and in extreme results into violence.
“The people have trusted the media to the extent that whatever news that is churned out is taken as the gospel truth. Such news can cause harm and can promote healthy relationship depending on the interpretation given to it. Political news particularly around election in Nigeria often evokes sentiment and fray nerves and in extreme results into violence.
“This, most times, results into dangerous altercations or violence and eventually loss of lives and property. It thus, becomes imperious to build and continue to build the capacity of the media to be conscious of the fact that their reportage may make or mar the country having unintended consequences on the citizens.
“When news reportage causes the people to become violent, such news has derailed from the key objective it sets to achieve. Conflict Sensitive Reportage is a virtue that every journalist and media practitioner must imbibe” the UNDP country Director said.
Prof Olu Ajakaiye of African Centre for Shared Development Capacity Building in his remarks at the workshop said the role of the Media in conflict management is very vital, stressing that if not well managed it can lead to conflagration.
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, State of Osun, Mr Abiodun Olalere said the workshop will impact positively on the reportage of the participants, particularly in the forthcoming governorship election in the state of Osun.
Olalere said the workshop will effectively equip journalists and media professionals with requisite cognitive skills in covering and reporting elections in a conflict sensitive manner especially in a multilateral society like Nigeria.
Four Consultants, Dr Austin Onuoha, Dr Gbemisola Animasaun, University of Ilorin Mr Emmanuel Mamman of Institute of Policy and Strategies, Kuru and Mrs Oluwatoyin Falade were the resource persons at the workshop.