The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu has said that Journalists in Nigeria can function effectively in the discharge of their responsibilities if rightly equipped under a conducive atmosphere.
He said that with the right attitude, the media in the country have the innate ability, not only to report facts, but also help in no small measure in sharpening opinion and at the same vain assist in putting the representatives of the people on their toes for the benefit of the country.
Elumelu spoke on Monday at the opening of a 2-day Capacity Building Workshop for Press Corp of the House of Representatives held at Fraser Suites, CBN, Abuja.
The Minority Leader expressed delight over the workshop, saying it would go a long way in providing journalists covering the activities of the House of Representatives with the necessary skills and proficiency to effectively report the intricate and strenuous processes, procedures and practices of the legislature.
“This is because the media is the ultimate link between the legislature and the people, who we represent, in their eagerness for information on issues regarding the activities of their representatives in the pursuit of their wellbeing.
“I am therefore delighted by the areas of focus of this workshop which have been professionally tailored to enhance the performance of reporters as well as media aides in the House of Representatives.
“I understand that some of the topics border on tips to benchmark parliamentary performance as well as strategies for investigative journalism and political reporting. These are highly specialized areas that require serious professional skills. I am assured by the assemblage of experts within and outside the industry, the workshop will yield the expected dividend.
“An equipped media will not only report facts but also help shape opinion and put the legislature on its toes for the good of the nation. The media fought for the establishment of our current democratic dispensation. It has not relented in making sacrifices to ensure that our democracy is not derailed but rather deepened in the overall national interest,” he stated
Elumelu who represents Aniocha/Oshimili Federal constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives, further stated that effective and professional dissemination of information is vital to peaceful coexistence, national cohesion, social stability, economic growth and political development, and stressed that the media has the burden to not only report facts but also adhere to the principles of information gatekeeping and social responsibility.
The renowned Federal Lawmaker averred that the media fought for the establishment of the Country’s current democratic dispensation and said Journalists in the country have not relented in making sacrifices to ensure that democracy is not derailed but rather deepened in the overall national interest.
He however said while the legislature will continue to support the entrenchment of press freedom, the media must also endeavor to respect the rights of others and operate within the ambit of the law.
“With the advent of social media comes the influx of amateurs and quacks in addition to the challenges of fake news, inaccurate reporting and misrepresentation of facts, with their serious negative impact on our society.
“The frenzy for breaking news results in abuse of professional checks and information gatekeeping. Gory contents, including photographs and videos that do more harm to our society are posted without restrain and control.
He affirmed that abuse of professional checks and information gate keeping, has led to unpleasant social consequences that ends up in “avoidable violence social unrest, sectional animosity and hostility, personal loses, economic depression breakdown of relationship, killings and even suicide.”
While saying that the challenge has brought serious debate regarding the regulation of the social media in Nigeria, he urged Media Practitioners to come together towards assisting in finding a way through these challenges.
Elumelu also expressed deep worry over poor remuneration and welfare of journalists, the condition and environment in which they practice as well as the challenges of ownership in the industry and said that such a situation opens them up to lures towards unwholesome practices.
He however, assured the Press Corp of the continued support of the Minority leadership and members of the Minority caucus of the House of Representatives in ensuring a conducive atmosphere for them to operate, even as he commended the organizers of the workshop for their efforts.