Khadijat Saidu, Birnin Kebbi
The National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, has appealed to the Federal Government to take decisive, proactive measures against banditry in North-West Nigeria.
He made the appeal at the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NUJ held in Birnin Kebbi on Monday.
He said the measures were necessary to prevent a complete breakdown of law and order in the region.
The NUJ President said that banditry had become a huge menace in the North-West and was fast spreading to the North-Central and other parts of Nigeria.
“These killings directly affect the seven states of Northwestern Nigeria – Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Jigawa. The menace is fast spreading into the North-Central state of Niger, thus, affecting all sectors of development.
“Urgent steps need to be taken to avert a complete breakdown of law and order. We are worried that education in this region is suffering a serious setback, many school children are now unable to attend schools.
“This is due to fear; many are dropping out of elementary schools and only a few are able to transit to secondary schools,” Isiguzo said.
He added that not only had banditry affected children’s enrollment into schools all over the region, but it had also affected the availability of educational materials and infrastructure.
He explained that experts were alluding to what is called the “shifting geography of violence,” where villages, semi-urban centres, and communities are targeted for attacks, causing an apparent increase in the number of internally displaced persons all over the region.
“This also explains the increase in sexual abuse of women and children; it forces families to ‘commodify’ their children in exchange for protection and security,” he noted.
Isiguzo identified good governance as free of abuse and corruption and due regards to the rule of law as a panacea to the lingering security issues bedeviling the nation, adding that good governance was increasingly being used in development literature.
He cautioned journalists against propagating fake news and hate speeches, urging them to ensure proper and adequate checks before going to press.
He also advised that criticism should be done in an objective manner devoid of any sentiment.
“This is the only way we can help sustain our democracy. Distracting leaders from acts of governance through such fake news and hate speeches will not augur well for our country. We, as change agents of change, must embrace development journalism.
“We call on the Federal Government to assist affected states with more urgent remedies to ameliorate the hunger that will be experienced these years because of the limited access to farmlands by farmers.
“Food security measures are of vital importance if the nation wants to avert this impending catastrophe,” he said.
He advocated sustained military operations in the area to enable farmers to get access to their farmlands.
In his remarks, while declaring NEC Meeting opened, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu noted that the press was saddled with the statutory role and responsibilities of educating and enlightening people on government policies and programs.
the Governor represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Babale Umar Yauri added that the press remains the mirror through which government policies, actions, and inactions are viewed, measured, monitored, and evaluated.
“For this reason, among many others, we need to bring you closer to enable us to work together, so as to diligently and effectively carry out your responsibilities of informing and educating people about government policies and programs.
“This is what informed the decision of Bagudu to approve the holding of your executive council meeting here in Birnin Kebbi,” he said.
He, therefore, called on journalists to focus on developmental journalism so as to support government to tackle the myriad of state and national problems.
In her address, the Commissioner of Information and Culture, Haji Rakiya Tanko-Ayuba, urged journalists to refrain from activities capable of endangering national unity.
Rakiya represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture Alhaji Garba Hamisu-Zuru, revealed that governor Bagudu facilitated the training of 150 social media practitioners and 10 bloggers on the ethics of new media practice to help practitioners to operate optimally.
“This is in addition to another training on the use of new media platforms for development, while information officers from the information ministry had refresher training on contemporary methodology of news gathering and dissemination,” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Kebbi State NUJ Chairman, Comrade Hamza Galadima-Zuru, appreciated the tremendous efforts of journalists in the state.
He specifically lauded their crucial role in propagating the activities and programs of the state government, especially the popular rice revolution.
“This has placed the state on the world map of rice producers across the globe,” he, therefore, assured that journalists in the state will continue to be objective in their reportorial.