…express concerns on contentious civil society bill in senate
The Founder and Coordinator of the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Comrade Sheriff Mulade, has praised the media and the civil societies for their roles, in the sustenance of democracy in the country.
Speaking in his welcome address, at the annual conference of the media and civil societies advocacy, held at the Africa for Peace Centre, Ugolo, near Warri, Delta State, the activist expressed amazement at the progress in the Nigerian media, in the years past.
This year’s edition of the annual media and civil society conference, with the theme ”The Role of the Media and Civil Society Organizations in Sustaining Democracy”, is at the instance of CEPEJ, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
In his welcome address to the participants at the event, Mulade said; ”That we gather here today at the instance of the Centre for Peace and Environment Justice (CEPEJ) is particularly appropriate.
”The theme of this conference reflects the growing recognition of the media, in its indispensable role and the contributions of non-governmental organizations (NGOS), to the sustenance of democracy in a country of over 180 million people.
”I am amazed at the advancement we have witnessed in the media for the past few years. I can still recall how the media was being bastardized, right, left and front. The truth however remains that the media of today, is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping public opinion and strengthening of the society.
”Every enlightened Nigerian must agree with me that, the media is the sword arm of democracy. It acts as the watch dog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness”.
Continuing, Mulade expounded on the roles of the media in a democratic setting. ”As the fourth pillar of democracy along with judiciary, executive and legislature, media of today has an all-embracing role to act against oppression, misdeeds and practicality of our society. Media helps in fighting against corruption, nepotism, and favoritism of institutional machinery. The media does this by carrying out a relentless campaign against such vices.
”The media in Nigeria, as in other democratic countries can never be separated from the country’s long walk to democracy.
”Throughout the terrible years of military dictatorship followed by the democratically elected leadership of then Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the media just like the Biblical voice in the wilderness, continued to cry out on the need to exist in a country where the people are able to elect the leaders of their choice, in a free and fair manner.
”More than anything else, the media in Nigeria is expected to be agents of development. According to section 22 of the Nigerian constitution, the media are expected to monitor and hold government accountable.
”The question we are probably here to answer this day is, how far our media are fulfilling these hopes and expectations?”.
”Civil society and the media are playing key oversight roles in the defense and sustenance of our fledgling democracy. This is why it is most appropriate to promote an enabling environment for civil society and media initiatives such as, dialogues at various levels, designed to foster cooperation and trust between the non -government civil societies and the media should be encouraged.
”Civil societies and the media, no doubt, have a critical role to play in building a culture of integrity in a volatile country such as ours.”
He harped on the fate of the civil society, which he said is been threatened by a bill in the National Assembly, which he said has passed a second reading and at committee level.
”However, Civil Society’s Organizations in our country are seriously threatened by a contentious regulatory bill on Non-governmental Organizations.
”The bill which has passed the first and second readings, is currently at the committee stage. The question is why is the bill generating controversy and why do critical stakeholders in CSOs want it dead? .
”This question and indeed others would be answered in this conference. Permit me to pose these questions? Are there any merits in the bill? Is the National Assembly accusing Nigeria’s voluntary sector of being a den of crooks in need of proper policing?
”Let me at this stage, on behalf of CEPEJ, appreciate everyone of you for attending this auspicious conference. We thank our key speakers and experts from both the media and civil society organizations”.
He invited his guests to the unveiling of his body’s Peace Centre, next month.
”By honouring our invitation, I want to specially invite you to join us to unveil the Africa for Peace Centre on March 22, 2018.”
BY ABAI FRANCIS