In a significant move towards bolstering human rights awareness and social inclusion, journalists in Kogi State have been urged to elevate their reporting on pertinent issues affecting local communities.
The call to action was made during a one-day media training on Human Rights and Social Inclusion organized by Stallion Times, in Lokoja, Kogi state.
The training which was supported by the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Get Involved, Dialogue and Improve Project (G-DRIP) and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, emphasized the crucial role of the media in advocating for human rights and societal equality.
Isiyaku Ahmed, the Editor-in-Chief of Stallion Times while delivering the welcome address, emphasized the importance of shedding light on underreported issues prevailing in local communities.
He urged journalists to delve deeper into grassroots stories and become advocates for human rights, amplifying the voices of marginalized groups and individuals.
He added: “As journalists, you are expected to use the pen to fight for the rights of the communities, especially those that are cut off from development in Kogi State.
“There are many people who are socially excluded and consequently get disadvantaged.
“During the 2023 election campaign period, the electorates were promised basic amenities such as light, water, good roads, and many others.
“I encourage journalists to hold the government accountable in those areas and ensure that they live up to their words and by that, they can foster social inclusion.”
The Special Adviser to the Kogi Governor on Media, Isah Ismail, pledged the government’s support for journalists in their mission to uphold the rights of citizens.
He affirmed the government’s commitment to fostering an environment where freedom of expression thrives and where the media can play a vital role in holding authorities accountable.
“The government is open to receiving ideas on how to uphold the rights of citizens. As a government, we are committed to improving Kogi Citizens’ lives.
“The present administration would sustain and build on the legacies of the present administration.
“We will rely on the involvement of Community, Traditional, and Religious leaders in dialogues that would sustain the state’s peaceful status, for a more coordinated approach that would involve citizen’s participation in governance,” Ismail stated.
Stella Edoka, the Chairperson, of the Kogi State Chapter of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) advocated for gender equality and encouraged women to stand up for their rights and aspire to leadership roles within society.
She urged female journalists to take on bigger responsibilities and contribute to shaping a more inclusive and equitable future.
Highlighting the significance of speaking out against human rights violations, Dr Theophilus Abbah the facilitator, pointed out that silence serves no purpose in addressing such issues.
He urged journalists to fearlessly report on human rights abuses, thereby bringing attention to injustices and driving positive change.
Dr Abbah emphasized the utilization of stories, features, investigative reports, interviews, and other forms of media to promote human rights, with a particular emphasis on gender equity, in governance and representation, providing succor to those striving for equality and justice.
Ibrahim Obansa, a Journalist with The Guardian Newspaper underscored a concerted effort to empower journalists as agents of change in promoting human rights and social inclusion in Kogi State.
He said: “By amplifying marginalized voices, holding authorities accountable, and advocating for equality, the media can catalyze tangible progress towards a more just and inclusive society.”