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AbdulRazaq aide tasks media on peace journalism

To address lingering security challenges in the country, the media has been called upon to align with peace journalism in the midst of Nigeria’s security challenges.

Rafiu Ajakaye, the chief press secretary to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara, made the appeal on Friday while delivering a paper on ‘culture, ethnic rivalry and the role of the media’ at a one-day seminar in Ilorin.

The seminar was organised by 400 Level Mass Communication students of the Kwara State University (KWASU).

Ajakaye said the role of the media was critical in peaceful coexistence and development.

“Our perception of one another, the nature of our relationship, and the kind of rivalry that exists in our communities are largely influenced by what we read or see in the media.

“The media should consciously campaign for Nigerians to truly get to know and appreciate one another. It should deliberately promote what unites us and play down divisive issues or report them in conciliatory tones.”

He encouraged the media to align with peace journalism, rather than war journalism which seems to be in vogue in the country today.

Ajakaye noted that war journalism plays up the elite positions, which he said hardly represents the views or dreams of the majority.

He said war journalism favours reporting only the differences between warring parties and downplays their similarities, previous agreements and progress on common issues.

“Conversely, peace journalism prioritises conflict resolution,” Ajakaye said.

He added that the current tilt toward war journalism, whereby a section of the media weaponises our differences in their style and language of reporting, is a disaster waiting to happen.

“We should never allow the mistakes of 1967 to happen again. Like many commentators have said, we are better off just reading and watching videos about Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“I appeal to schools of journalism and media studies nationwide to ensure that their students are made to visit Oru town in Ogun State, where war victims from Liberia and other places were sheltered.

“I suggest that schools offering media studies should make deliberate efforts to give students deeper classroom reflections on how ethnic slurs, unhelpful narratives and negative innuendoes in Nigerian media aggravated ethnic rivalry.”

He added that the media have a duty to use their manipulative influence to shape national discourse in manners that do not aggravate ethnic conflict.

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