COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE 70TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND 17TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE BROADCASTING ORGANISATIONS OF NIGERIA (BON) HELD AT TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA ON SEPTEMBER 20, 2018
The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) held its 70th General Assembly and 17th Annual General Meeting with the theme:”Election Coverage and Responsible Journalism” at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on September 20, 2018, hosted by Channels Television.
The Chairman of Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, Mr. John Momoh, OON in his welcome address, cautioned that ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ should be the beacon for media managers, editors, reporters, presenters and the whole media value chain. He explained that “responsibility” connotes objectivity, fairness, decorum, finesse, patriotism, sacrifice, balance, truth and trust, he recommended that all delegates consistently refer to one or all of the codes for journalists, including the Nigerian Media Code on Election Coverage, NBC Code on election reporting and the Global Journalistic Code.
He further pointed out that one of the articles in the code stipulates that “necessity is laid on the journalist, to present facts and figures at all time and at all cost, in a balanced and unbiased fashion, devoid of any colouration whatsoever.”
With the year 2019 just a few months away, and media houses counting down to the elections, he enjoined all to be responsible in the way and manner headlines are crafted, details are explained, inferences and similarities analyzed; and avoid giving an undue advantage in whatever manner to one party over the other. He emphasized that responsibility entails giving more time to verify a story in order to avoid misinforming the public and journalists must ensure that whatever facts and figures are gathered, are cross-checked, double-checked, triple-checked and reconfirmed before presenting such to the public for consumption. He reminded everyone that any misinformation by the media is always difficult to retrieve, and its effects could be damaging.
He called on all delegates to place the interest of the citizens above that of the politicians, and to live true to the role of the media as the watchdog of the society, and shun all rhetoric that is divisive and offensive in nature. He further enjoined all delegates to exhibit the highest sense of professionalism and stay away from compromise and partisanship in order to be empowered to speak the truth to power, ask the hard questions, reveal facts and stand by stories.
He ended his address by appealing to all delegates to strive to improve staff welfare and take home pay of journalists (and all staff) to help curb the menace of the “Brown Envelope Syndrome”. He warned that if staff welfare is not well taken care of, a compromise then becomes inevitable when a journalist is faced with the realities of the poor condition of service, particularly in an election year.
The Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), represented by the Secretary to the Commission/Legal Adviser, Mrs. Alheri Saidu gave the first goodwill message, she spoke on the importance of the Assembly which is at the period of intense political activities, she used the opportunity to remind all broadcasters that political broadcast and advertisement will be central to our broadcast activities during this period and members should observe the Electoral Acts as amended and the Nigerian Broadcast Code. She enjoined members to avoid the broadcast of hate speeches. She also appealed to BON members regarding the payment of licence fees. She noted that the process of DSO has been slowed down due to lack of fund but optimistic that it will be completed by December 2019.
Other goodwill messages were received from the representatives of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dr. Akin Akingbulu (Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society); President of RATTAWU, Comrade Kabir Garba Tsanni and the Country Director of BBC Media Action, Mr. Seamus Gallagher.
In his paper presentation on the theme titled: “Election Coverage and Responsible Journalism” Prof. Tonnie Iredia OON, implored Journalists to remember that elections are not events that occur in a day, but a process with interwoven segments; one of which is voting i.e. voting is only ONE segment ofthe election. He went on to break down the different segments in the election process. He also highlighted the different “administrators” in the electoral process (that is, INEC, Security agencies, Political Parties and Judiciary) and the powers they wield in determining the outcome of elections.
According to Prof. Iredia, during elections, journalists are expected to create a level playing field for all participants, ensure that coverage of political parties is not based on invitations only, give equal opportunities to all (not necessary equal time) and be bold enough to be adversarial when necessary. Each journalist must have the development of the Country as the overarching goal.
He encouraged media houses to ensure that all administrators in the electoral process are monitored and activities reported on from time to time, and not only during an election year or political broadcasts. As individuals, he requested journalists to refuse to be intimidated by the owners of their organizations, buttressing this with the example of Doctors who cannot be bullied into administering wrong medication solely because their board demanded the same of them.
He ended with a call to all journalists to remember the legacies of Nigeria’s forefathers and the fight against the military by journalists. He encouraged each to, defend Nigeria’s democracy through responsible election coverage; uphold the sovereignty of the people and the rule of law. Above all, journalists must respect majority rule but never neglect the rights of those in the minority.
The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was represented by Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters. The Vice President sent his apologies to BON for not being able to attend the assembly as a result of an official national assignment to Delta State.
Declaring the Assembly open, the Vice President in his speech, said BON was strategically positioned as a major influencer of thoughts, ideas and public perceptions and added that the ability of the media to rightfully shape the narrative in national discourse will either erode or strengthen its influence as a tool for national development.
According to the Vice President, BON as a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project has the responsibility not only to uphold the ethics of journalism profession especially in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious society such as Nigeria, but also to abide with ideals that will strengthen national identity and rejuvenation.
H e commended the Nigerian broadcast media which according to him, had grown in leaps and bound and has adapted to new technology, making it among the most vibrant not only in Africa but across the world, and the democracy being enjoyed today would not have been possible without the efforts of the media that have refused to be cowed.
T he Vice President concluded by stating that the media Fourth Estate of the Realm, remains the hope of the common man, and in an election year, the media should play a critical role of setting the agenda and reflecting the mood of the nation. He further added that the “the ideals we want to see in our nation will not happen overnight, “it is a process and the media is a veritable vehicle for driving the process”, and the Buhari Administration will continue to support the independence and freedom of the press in Nigeria.
The Assembly deliberated on issues presented to the meeting which affects the organisation and resolved as follows:
1. That the 2018 FIFA World Cup transmission was successfully executed although with defaulters from some members which is being examined.
2. That Zone A should conduct an election and inform the Secretariat of the date of the election.
3. That Zone B and D should conduct an election and submit the name of the winner to the Secretariat before or after the end of the Assembly. Zone D submitted Alhaji Ismail Sani, Chief Executive of Platinum Radio, Keffi as the new Chairman of Zone D.
4. That in the absence of Chairman, the Vice Chairman according to the Constitution as Amended, Article 16 (j): Vice Chairman which states that: “The Vice-Chairman shall in the absence of the Chairman perform the function of the Chairman as empowered by the provisions of the constitution. He shall also perform any other duty or duties assigned to him/her from time to time by the Chairman or the General Assembly.”
5. That the two candidates, Sir Godfrey Nnamdi Ohuabunwa, Multimesh Broadcasting Company and Mr. John Ugbe, Details Nigeria Limited who indicated interest were subjected to an election by the Assembly. The election was conducted and Sir Godfrey Nnamdi Ohuabunwa, Chief Executive Officer, Multimesh Broadcasting Company emerged as the winner with 34 votes against Mr. John Ugbe with 10 votes.
6. The 2017 Audited accounts were approved.
The General Assembly expressed its appreciation to the management of Channels Television for successfully hosting the 70th General Assembly and 17th Annual General Meeting.
The next meeting to be hosted by the Multimesh Broadcasting Company is scheduled for Port-Harcourt. A date will be announced later.
JOHN IWARUE SNR. ADEOLA OLUMEYAN