By Emmanuel Adeleke
The South West Bureau Chief of The Nation Newspaper, Mr Bisi Oladele, has charged journalists to promote integration and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians, stressing that only a united and peaceful country is governable.
Oladele stated this at a symposium organised by the Association of the Student Communicators (ASCOM) of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, on Wednesday.
Speaking on the theme, ‘The New Media: A missed opportunity for National Integration in Nigeria,’ Oladele said aside reporting happenings, Nigerian journalists are also affected by incidents and challenges in the country- at the personal, family and community levels- calling for social responsibility in the discharge of their duties.
Oladele explained that in a country like Nigeria, where there are over 300 spoken languages, mutual suspicion, feeling of oppression and dominance by certain groups will pervade the polity.
He said: “Though Hausa, Fulani, Itsekiri, Ibibios, Yoruba, Igbo, Urhobo and Ijaw work and live together in communities peacefully, ethnic and religious cards are strongly played when taking decisions on positions of leadership, particularly political leadership, leadership in government agencies and in communal groups and associations.
“Some people also build stereotype against certain ethnic groups based on behaviour of certain members of the ethnic or religious group, which makes them take a negative stance against people of such group.
“Governments at all levels, therefore, need to acknowledge this challenge and identify its solution as a pathway to a better Nigeria.”
He noted that the Ministry of Information, Orientation and Culture should be empowered to undertake strategic communication campaigns on efforts to foster national integration such as highlighting the good aspects of each culture, the beauty of working and building Nigeria together, outstanding efforts at all levels including offering jobs to non-indigenes, inter-ethnic marriages and excellent achievements of non-natives in some communities.
“There should also be deliberate campaigns to challenge stereotype views, and deliberate promotion of equity, fairness and justice to all irrespective of circumstances,” Oladele added.
Speaking, the chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, Comrade Ademola Babalola, urged the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to separate Mass Communication department and unbundle it so as to compete with its contemporaries.
“Mass Communication is an industry that is supposed to be a faculty on its own, so that it can deliver on its mandate and the mission of its founding fathers,” Babalola said.
In his address, ASCOM President, Kehinde Ayanboade, said the purpose of the event was to boost the moral of students towards public speaking and oratory.
He said most students are more involved in social activities that does not add value to them, adding that the event would go along way in assisting them in their academics.
He urged the incoming executives of the association to leverage on the programe so as to set the pace for other professions.