Bauchi Governor calls for continued dialogue between politicians and media professionals

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Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Bala Mohammed, has advocated continued dialogue between the media and the political class to check against skirmishes between the two protagonists of democracy.

Speaking on Friday in Abuja during the public presentation of a book entitled, “Media and Nigeria’s Constitutional Democracy: Civic Space, Free Speech, and the Battle for Freedom of the Press,” published by Lexington Books, edited by Paul Obi, Taye Obateru and Sam Amadi, Mohammed who was represented by Bauchi State Commissioner of Information and Communication, Adamu Gabarin, said: “My own experience as a journalist and as politician who has operated at the national and sub national levels and from the legislative and executive prisms is clear enough: democracy needs the media as fish needs water and the media in turn needs democracy as humans need air.”

He admitted that: “Politicians can sometimes be excessive in trying to constrain the media and the media, especially in this age of new and social media, can be excessive, extreme, intolerant and abusive in defence of its space or territory.”

He however advised that: “Practitioners of both domains must continually call for dialogue which will stimulate understanding, tolerance which foregrounds respects, and the spirit of give and take which undergirds the building of consensus for the greater public good. It is by engaging in this form of open deliberations that press freedom, media rights, civil liberties and constitutional governance will be better served.”

Mohammed while stating that he is proud of his dual vocations as a journalist and a public servant as both roles lie at the base of Nigeria’s steady march towards progress, noted that “the relationship between the media and politics is still work in progress for the very fact that our democracy is still young and, in some regard, tentative in nature. And for it to endure, to flourish and to become irreversible it requires not just the cooperation and understanding between the media and politicians; not just mutual respect between them but more importantly the recognition of boundaries and the ability to navigate tensions, contradictions and conflicts when such boundaries are repeatedly crossed by both sides.”

He said the content of the presented book, which is reflected in its title, lies at the centre of the current debate in Nigeria regarding the place of the media in Nigeria’s democratic transformation and consolidation, insisting that the key elements of this debate relate to the role of the media in empowering civic spaces and strengthening democratic governance and, of course, the challenges the media face in engaging in such undertakings.

The governor said: “As we present this book today I call on all practitioners to make good use of the book and propagate the gospel of unity and national consciousness,” and “as practitioners we should equally shunt away bias reporting of events and remains steadfast with our professional calling.”

One of the panelists at the occasion, Prof. Udenta Udenta argued that free media is the live wire of democracy, insisting that the media cannot do without democracy as much as democracy cannot do without the media.

He however warned against the threat clampdown on those planning to protest during next Monday’s presidential inauguration, insisting that it is a right to protest in a democracy and that the civic space cannot be shutdown because of a swearing in a new President.

One of the authors of the book, Paul Obi disclosed that the writing of the book was conceived by the planned move by the federal government to have a stranglehold on the nation media by enacting laws seen by media practitioners as stifling and unhealthy to media practice in the country.

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