The issue of electioneering campaign promises especially as regards the 2023 election came to the fore at the just concluded Press Week of Correspondents’ chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council with a call on journalists to put elected leaders on their toes to ensure that promises made during campaigns are fulfilled.
The press week held at Oyo State NUJ secretariat, Iyaganku Ibadan also discussed pallatives put in place by the Federal Government and state governments to cushion effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy.
A lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication and Media Technology, Lead City University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Bayonle Busari who set the tone of the agenda, said the media should put the leaders on the spot and hold them accountable on their electioneering promises as well as the discharge of the primary responsibilities of government.
Busari, a doctorate degree holder,
said journalists were expected to constantly hold the hands of elected officials on the fire so as to ensure that all the promises made during campaigns come to pass.
While maintaining that as part of their duties in the society, journalists have a role to set agenda for the society, where they operate, he said: “It is the responsibility of journalists to determine what the society discusses, how it is discussed and the effect of the discussions.”
In his paper titled; ‘Role of Media Practitioners in Evaluation of Fulfilment of 2023 Campaign Promises,’ Busari stated that “the relevance of the topic can be situated in the agenda setting theory, which places a duty on the media to set agenda for the society where they operate. This means that it is the responsibility of media professionals to determine what the society discusses, how it is discussed, and the effect of the discourse.
“Secondly, the relevance of the topic comes by virtue of the role and expectation from the larger society, for the media to put leaders on the spot and hold them accountable to their electioneering promises as well as the discharge of the primary responsibilities of government. This is a duty that elected leaders owe the public.
“This duty, primarily, includes putting a tab on campaign promises made by politicians and the extent to which these promises are kept, where it is observed that politicians are deviating from the pact that they have signed with the people. The media owe it a duty to raise the red flag and call such leaders to the probable failure.”
Busari, who urged journalists to shun all tendencies that will expose them to patronage from politicians, said that might make them compromise their integrity.
The lecturer, who doubles as the coordinator, of postgraduate programme in the department, however, lamented the abysmal failure of political parties to imbibe democratic culture and tenets of good governance.
He noted that though democracy was copied from western nations, Nigerian politicians have woefully failed to imbibe democratic culture to build internal democracy for the growth and development of the country.
To this end, Busari urged members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists ( NUJ) to set up a welfare scheme that will cater for the need of indigent journalists across the country,
While lamenting the condition of many journalists in the country, he said that many of them are being owed salaries.
According to him, “This situation makes many journalists willing tools in the hands of politicians and political parties. With NUJ setting up a welfare scheme will help reduce the effect of the precarious situation some journalists face.
“I will call on the leaders of the NUJ to rise up and take up the gauntlet by ensuring that the salaries of journalists are commensurate with their job. This might require putting in place an appropriate legal framework to give life to this proposal.
“Secondly, there is need to have an insurance scheme for journalists in order to mitigate the hardship and risk which they are prone to by the nature of their calling.
“This presupposes that journalists needed to work on their self-esteem. The way politicians describe them sometimes behind, is better imagined. They see them as items that can be sourced at a given price and disposed at will. This situation is unfortunate, and should be unacceptable. They should stop making themselves available to the political class as disposable materials.”
The Chairman of the chapel, Raji Adebayo, urged politicians to fulfil their campaign promises to the people so that they can enjoy the dividends of democracy.
“We all know that as the voice of the voiceless and watchdog of the masses, we have major tasks of making the political office holders accountable to the electorate. I want to use this opportunity to implore politicians, particularly political office holders from the local government level to the state and at the federal level, to deliver on their campaign promises because this is the only way the dividends of democracy can get to the masses,” he said.
Apart from campaign promises, the 2023 governorship candidate of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Ogun State, Olufemi Ajadi Oguntoyinbo wondered why government would think the solution to cushion effect of removal of fuel subsidy is to share money, saying the money should be channelled towards the growth and progress of the nation.
He said that there was no way government could identify the poorest of the poor whom the palliatives are actually meant for without the money being diverted to politicians’ account.
“There is no transparency and clarity in activities of the government, for genuine transparency, let all names of beneficiaries of the palliatives be published in newspapers with their account number before the palliatives are distbursed,” he said.
According to him, “Nigerians don’t expect money from the government, what they need is good governance, good road network and stable electricity. Let us begin to enjoy dividends of democracy by giving Nigerians monthly allowance as citizens.”
Oguntoyinbo, who was chairman of the occasion, at the closing ceremony of the press week, lamented that Nigerian citizens have not been enjoying dividends of democracy from their leaders who are only concerned about their own personal gains at the expense of majority of Nigerians.
“Nigerians deserve better and good dividends of democracy especially with the present economic hardship many people are facing in the country,” he added.
He however, urged journalists to practise the ethics of the profession accordingly, stressing their efforts towards nation building can not be overemphasised.
On his part, Raji said: “This policy of giving palliatives to the people, is just a political statement which is not really serving the need of the general populace, rather I will prefer that funds that are being made available for palliatives should be channelled towards infrastructural development such as roads, health, education and others that will be of benefit to all irrespective of our status.
“We all need good roads, health facilities, security, better education for our children and other social amenities, but palliatives will only end in the hands of the few party members and political jobbers.”
Some of the personalities at the event included the National Trustee of NUJ Zone B, Adebayo Akamo; Oyo State NUJ Chairman, Ademola Babalola; Gbenga Bamidele, former national assistant general secretary, NUJ and Victor Oluwadmilare, former Oyo State NUJ chairman.