2023 Poll: Media as a veritable tool in agenda setting, By Emmanuel Ajibulu

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Emmanuel Ajibulu

Societies can hardly progress meaningfully without a vibrant, efficient, resilient and proactive watchdog saddled with the responsibilities of informing, educating and entertaining members of the public without fear or favour or flagrant abuse of ethical codes or extant rules of the profession.

Despite challenges limiting the effective performance of media in Nigeria, the industry still remain a veritable tool in promoting good governance and sustainable development, however it is also expected not to rest on its oars but to deepen its resolve to live up to the expectations of the people in advancing national growth and development no matter the constraints and challenges that stand in its way.

Similarly the passion for the job to perform its watchdog role of holding the government accountable must never be subjugated no matter the pressure. It must also make great efforts in promoting those virtues that unite the nation while constructively addressing the more divisive issues marauding its coexistence.

The agenda-setting role of the media makes it possible for any activity reported by the media to get noticed, hence, media must, therefore, make conversation around national security, citizens’ livehoods, economic situation in the country, youth unemployment, political affairs, education etc as part of its principal agenda so as to make positive and desirable impacts.

There is also a need for an informed media activism driven by research in support of freedom and development, a media specialisation that reflects socio-economic imperatives and social protection for media practitioners.

The 21st century media as well needs to be well informed and properly reoriented on its duties and functions, especially in terms of training, ideological orientation and relationship between classes in the society, so that they will be able to take a position as to which side of the debate to follow. To drive policies and positive decisions for the ordinary citizen, and not a parochial interest of a narrow member of the public.

Reporters must also have continued penchant and willfully go out for investigation and as well nose for good success stories, highlight them in mass media and not allowing negativity to drown good quality and achievement of individuals in society. Whilst it is true that the importance of media cannot be overemphasised since they give perception and builds on narratives on people and events, the profession equally needs qualified and dedicated hands to keep the dreams and purpose of the noble profession alive at all times especially in a contemporary world where social media is becoming the primary source for information.

Meanwhile as Nigeria’s 2023 general election draws nearer, the Nigeria mass media must redoubled its watchdog role and agenda setting through unfettered scrutiny and discussion of the successes and failures of candidates, governments, and electoral management bodies. The media can also inform the public of how effectively they have performed and help to hold them to account.

Yet, the media also have other roles in enabling full public participation in elections by educating voters on how to exercise their civic and democratic rights; by reporting on the development of an election campaign; by providing a platform for the political parties and candidates to communicate their messages to the electorate; by providing a space for the public to communicate their concerns, opinions, and needs, to the parties or candidates, the the government, and to other stakeholders, and to interact on these issues by allowing the parties and candidates to debate with each other; by reporting results and accordingly monitoring vote counting at various centres without bias.

The media may not be the sole source of information for voters, but in a world dominated by mass communications, it is increasingly the media that determine the political agenda and it must therefore help midwife Nigeria into a smooth, transparent and credible transition of power at all levels in 2023. Democracy is not a hundred meters dash, slowly but steadily, the purposeful paradigm shift the people seek can peacefully come, but information is critical to successfully achieve this.

● Emmanuel Ajibulu is an infoprenuer, publisher of veracitydesk.com.ng, writer, communication consultant and social media influencer, [email protected]

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