Recently, media practitioners and others converged in Ilorin for the maiden edition of the national conference of Muslim Media Watch group of Nigeria.
Indeed, the conference provided eminent Nigerians including frontline traditional rulers and labour activists opportunity to expressed concern over what they termed generous publicity the Nigerian media is according activities of insurgents and obscenity.
They expressed their reservations about the generous publicity being accorded the twin- evil of insurgency and obscenity by the media at the maiden national conference of the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWGN) which was held in Ilorin, Kwara state between 7- 9 of October,2016.
The three- day conference was with the theme, “Adoption of Media for Da’awah: Issues and Perspectives”.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN) and was declared open by the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Renowned labour leader,Comrade Issa Aremu threw the first salvo when he asked Nigerian media to stop according insurgents’ activities generous publicity.
He said the generous publicity being accorded insurgents by the media tend to glorify criminality.
Aremu said media practitioners must not in the name of “fair reporting” and agitation for “Muslim presence in the media” promote criminals by reproducing divisive sinister reports as being practised by the Western media against the Nigerian nation.
Aremu who is the General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), stated this paper he presented at the event.
Represented by Dr. Abdul Adamu ,Aremu said: “I had cause several times to complain to my friends in Trust management about how they give front pages to insurgents in the name of “fair reporting” to criminals who criminally murder women and children in the name of the great religion of peace, Islam.
“I think we should not be romantic about “Muslim presence” in the media. Rather let us ask for professional presence in the media with respect to truth which is not divisible. There is no Muslim or Christian truth, truth is truth. Nigerian media must return back to the basics of the ethics of the profession especially with respect of report of crises in diverse society like Nigeria.
“Much violence has been perpetrated and spread due to unprofessional reportage and sheer disrespect for the truth. I was shocked how all Nigeria media recently reported the so called change of leadership in Boko haram. They all attributed their source to BBC which in turn never told us if its journalists were at the conference where the insurgents decided.
“Throughout the war of attrition in Northern Island, in UK BBC dared not carry news attributed to terrorist IRA the way it dubiously gives generous coverage to Boko haram in Nigeria.
“But if BBC can afford the luxury of misinformation why should our own journalists including Muslim journalists be so unfair to the nation under local and international attack? CNN used to stupidly report Nigeria in terms of “Muslim North” and “Christian South”. But must Nigerian media reproduce this divisive sinister report? Are we saying no Christians in the north, no Muslims in the south? Of course our constitution never defines us as such; “Muslim North” and “Christian South”. We are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria regardless of faiths and language”.
Aremu who was a member of the 2014 national conference ,called on president Muhammadu Buhari to to revisit the conference report in the archive and implement all especially with respect to recommendations on the media.
Some of the recommendations resolved by the conference according him, are that: “The provisions of Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution should be made justiceable to enable the Media discharge their constitutional obligations more effectively.”
On the issue of obscenity publications, a frontline traditional ruler in Kwara state,the Emir of Shonga, Alhaji Haliru Yahaya, called on media practitioners to discourage it. Obscenity,he said had been prevalent in Nigerian media.
The Emir, who expressed worry over the development, argued that approach of political politeness to the issue by authorities concerned would not help the matter.
He said that God would fight sodomy with destruction as He did before, adding that children should be regulated on use of social media so that they are not lost to the unreal world in cultural invasion.
He also said that young ones should be directed to right paths early in their life so that they were not misled by the unreal world.
The chairman of the occasion,Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), in his remarks, urged Muslim media practitioners in the country to be different in positive ways in the discharge of their professional duties.
He said Muslim media practitioners all over the world were in disadvantaged position.
Ali, who said that religion of Islam and Muslims are disadvantaged due to activities of some extremists and negative impression of some people against the religion and adherents, advised media practitioners to rise above board and show best professional performance.
He said they should always promote Islam as contained in the holy Qur’an, adding that they should avoid such conduct that could degrade Islam.
“For those of you lucky to be in media practice today, you owe Nigerian society a service to be the best and surpass good and best practices of your predecessors by rendering quality reportage of news items.
“You must be different in positive ways and Islam should not place second fiddle in all you do. Once you do that, every other thing would become easy for you”, he said.
In his address, the national coordinator of the MMWG, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, said the aims and objectives of the group include promotion of quality Islamic broadcasting in media organisations all over the country.
He also said that the group was out to encourage fair play, justice and equity in dissemination of religious programmes in electronic and print media, adding that it ensures transparency in news coverage among all faiths so as to maintain equity and justice.
The MMWGN in a communique issued at the end of the conference, urged the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to enforce compliance with its code by all stakeholders in ensuring equity, justice and fairness, especially, as regards enforcement of 10% allocation of slots to religious programmes in the Media.
The communique reads in part:
“Federal and state governments should fund their media organizations adequately to save them from complete dependence on religious commercials for running their organizations.
“Muslims should be more active and serve as watchdogs of the media, defining realities of the media, to build harmonious relationship and peaceful co-existence among all elements of the society. “To this end, participants called on the MMWG to collaborate with the Muslim media practitioners to give voice to Islam. It also called on Muslim journalists to utilize the privilege at their disposal for the betterment of Islam and humanity.
“The Nigerian mass media should present balanced and objective stories from credible sources to avert ethno-religious violence across the country.
“There is the need to evolve multi-Da’awah strategies to meet the needs of the multi-ethnic Nigeria. Wealthy Muslims in Nigeria should, as a matter of urgency, establish Radio, Television and Newspaper industries to fill the gap created in the media ownership.
“Preachers must strive to capture and retain the attention of the audience in their presentations through quality content development and effective time management.
“The MMWG all over the country should maintain its oversight function as regards correction of misrepresentation and misconception about Islam.
The three- day event was graced physically or in representative capacity by eminent personalities including the Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs,Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,the governor of Kwara state and Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Emir of Shonga and Kwara state chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists,Comrade Biodun Abdulkareem .