By Azubuike Okeh
The need for the media to play a pivotal role in stimulating national discourse for improved national economy was the focal point at the 2023 All Nigeria Editors Conference held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
The theme of the conference was: Stimulating Economic Growth, Technological Advancement: Role of the Media.
Media stakeholders expressed concern over the level of poverty in the country and the need for Nigerians to cooperate with the government to find a lasting solution to it.
The President, Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr Eze Anaba had set the stage for conversation urging the Federal Government to take urgent steps towards ensuring a better quality of life for the citizenry.
Anaba said the present economic situation has left millions of Nigerians in poverty, adding that the state of the nation’s economy should be a cause for concern to every Nigerian.
The NGE helmsman, who said that the economy was in dire straits, urged the President Bola Tinubu-led government to take deliberate policy measures for a turnaround.
”All hands must be on deck in the task of reversing the trend in order to improve the economic situation and the well-being of Nigerian’s,” he said.
Delivering his lecture, the Guest Speaker, Mr Muda Yusuf, urged the media to set the agenda for a national conversation towards generating seminal ideas that would propagate the growth of the economy.
Yusuf, an Economist and the immediate past Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Federal Government was contending with declining reserves, dearth of investor confidence, currency volatility, among others
He said the media should not stay aloof while the citizenry grappled with poverty and hunger.
He said that well thought-out reform measures were needed at this point in Nigeria’s history.
”The media is a strategic stakeholder in the development project of this nation. The Nigerian media has a crucial role to play in the move towards reversing the disturbing trend in the economy.
”Nigeria is in dire need of economic reform going by the level poverty in the country. Available statistics show that as at 2022, 60 per cent of Nigerians were already facing multidimensional poverty.
”It is important for the media to be very proactive in holding the government to account. It is good to indulge in economic reforms; the most important thing is the well-being of the people. So the media have a role to play in ensuring that policy reforms are vigorously implemented,” he said.
The Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Ali Mohammed said the media would adequately play its role of agenda setting in the face of the current economic realities if it embraced emerging technologies.
He said the society has continued to witness c evolutions in technology even as the media was supposed to adapt to changes as they occur.
According to him this would make them to be ready to perform their roles as a cornerstone institution for societal development.
Ali expressed hopes that the Nigerian media would not fail to rise to the occasion in the face of Nigeria’s economic challenges, especially with the current administration’s commitment to protect the citizens’ freedom of expression.
Speaking on behalf of President Bola Tinubu, the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, restated the Federal Government’s committed to reverse the nation’s economic situation for the better.
The minister said Tinubu was aware of the pains being faced by Nigerians following the removal subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol.
He said the current administration had taken critical steps towards cushioning the effects of the policy on the citizenry.
He listed the N35, 000 wage award to civil servants, N100 billion Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses and singing of five executive orders to improve business growth as some of the steps so far taken by his administration.
Idris listed others as the Federal Government’s moves to clear billions of dollars in inherited foreign exchange backlog and the establishment of task reform committee to reduce tax burden on Nigerians.
”The pains being faced by Nigerians are necessary sacrifices we all have to make. We are all stakeholders in the project of developing our dear nation.
”The current administration is not resting on its oars to ensure a thriving and prosperous nation.
“It is committed to promoting a free press where the media will be free to disseminate true and objective information, and set the agenda for citizens’ participation in governance and development,” he said.