Muslim, Christian media call for religious harmony, peaceful coexistence
Journalists have been advised to de-emphasize the use of ethnic differences and rise above factors that can lead to divisiveness in their reports.
The admonition was given at a one-day workshop organised by Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) and Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN) held at the Veritas University, Bwari, Abuja.
The workshop, with the theme: “Peace Building and Promotion of Religious Tolerance” focused on the importance of peace in nation-building and agreed that religious tolerance and harmony lead to peaceful co-existence.
Delegates at the workshop were from Kwara, Borno, Benue, Lagos, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, in his paper, entitled; ‘Media As A Tool for Social Change, Cohesion and Development’, said Nigerian media has always been a tool for political development which the politicians use to achieve political gains.
The NBC boss said it is the responsibility of the media to forge unity and de-emphasize ethnic differences but rather be a force to unify the people and society.
Idachaba said while good journalism builds social change, cohesion, and national development, bad journalism leads to the breakdown of law and order.
According to him, “The media should always set a common progressive agenda and not one that will divide the country. No media should promote offensive reportage that can incite violence and division, must not be seen promoting or inciting provocative broadcast but rather promote decent transmissions of social content for the moral upbringing of the future generations.”
Speaking on the same topic, a former Editor-in-Chief of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Alhaji Alli Hakeem, said lack of cohesion and the failure to speak with one voice has led to the fragmentation of the country is witnessing today.
He said the media should embrace a new ethos that will “take us back to what existed in the past”.
The former NAN chief said the media is not for extremists and naysayers to achieve their agenda but to report issues positively and forge cohesion and unity among the citizens.
He said the media should be circumspect about what is published about the country while adding that media reports must be accurate, objective, truthful, fair, and balanced.
Also, a former Editor at Media Trust Limited, Hajia Aisha Umaru Yusuf, National Director Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Revd. Father Mike Umoh and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Revd. Dr Samson Ayorinde in their separate papers argued that journalists must be at the forefront of promoting religious and peaceful co-existence in the country.
They said journalists should be agents of progress and stability and must not be seen taking sides but must be neutral, fair, and accurate through their news items, contents, and reportage.
According to them, mankind is one irrespective of colour, religion, political, and social beliefs.
In their remarks, MMPN and CAMPAN presidents, Alhaji Abdur Rahman Balogun and Patrick Osu respectively said the workshop was organised to promote interaction between Muslim and Christian media practitioners and to call on politicians and those in positions of authority to fulfill their electoral promises.