Osinbajo urges responsible use of social media

Osinbajo urges responsible use of social media

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday in Lagos called on media executives to use their influence to seek ways of attaining a consensus on responsible use of the social media.


Osinbajo gave the charge at the celebration of the “Life and Times of Departed Media Leaders: An Afternoon of Tributes”.


“We are in an age of technology where the dissemination of news had completely been democratised by the media environment, which was once the preserve of the state and corporations.


“The very meaning of the term media owner has changed and no longer refers to people with the profile of those who have studied journalism.


“In this era of citizen journalism, everyone now has a voice; whether through blogs, website or online publications, among others.


“The democratisation of information, unleashed by the information age, has also introduced related risks with serious implications for economic and social-political stability,’’ he said.


The vice-president noted that indigenous and private interests now controlled means of information dissemination, which was once the exclusive prism of corporations and government that could easily be held accountable.


“This capability is increasingly used in all sorts of malign doings.


“Fake news is being trafficked on a scale that is capable of warping the perception of reality by huge numbers of people and inducing social conflict.


“I believe that media leaders must use the considerable influence that they have to seek ways of achieving a consensus on the responsible use of the social media,’’ he said.


Osinbajo conceded that Nigeria was not a perfect country, saying that it had its peculiar challenges.

He, however, noted that the cure for the country’s imperfection was certainly not in destruction or a heartless descent into anarchy.


“We all have a share in the much-needed work of rebuilding, redesigning, reforming and healing our nation.


“Creating a commonality of purpose in a culturally diverse society is challenging the world over.


“However, nation building is not the sole preserve of politicians and government.


“In fact, it is just as much a task for the civil society, of which the media is an important member,’’ he said.


The vice-president said that the relationship between the media and the government was part of the natural creative tension that must exist between institutions arising from different mandates.


“However, those of us who govern must do so with the understanding that power is a public trust, and it is your calling as journalists to invigilate us and hold us accountable.


“I urge you to do so relentlessly, fairly and unapologetically because when we are most true to our respective callings, our democracy is perfect,’’ he said.


Osinbajo stressed that “what should occupy our minds today is whether we are building up our country or whether we are intent on tearing it down’’.


He said that was a question which the citizens ought to ask themselves in every sphere of human endeavour because there was only one divide at that point.


“The divide is simply the line between those who are committed to constructive action and those who are pursuing a destructive cause,’’ he said.


The vice-president said that the giants, who were celebrated at the “Afternoon of Tributes”, underscored the fact that journalism operated in the social context and must be neutral.


“This same commitment is incumbent on all social media practitioners.


“Media practitioners have the responsibility to exercise discernment with the deployment of their platforms.


“We must ask ourselves whether we are empowering and amplifying the most insensitive voices in our mist, while marginalising the voices of reasoning.’’


Osinbajo said that everyone had a stake in advancing the cause of justice, equity and progress.


“The media leaders, in whose names and memories we have gathered today are giants because they understood the struggles of their times and then, embraced their roles in them.


“In so doing, they wrote their names in bold and remain a reference point for succeeding generations.


“We too must embrace all of those quests that are before us to make common cause of progressive nation-builders across all divides to take ownership of our country and build a sustainable future for our children,’’ he said.


The tributes event was organised in honour of former Gov. Lateef Jakande of Lagos State, who was the pioneer President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and former Treasurer of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).


Others are Malam Wada Maida, a former President of NGE, former Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Chairman, NAN Board of Directors; as well as Malam Ismaila Isa, Life Patron, NPAN.


Mr Bisi Lawrence, former General Manager, Lagos Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, former Publisher, New Nation, former Editor, Sunday Times and Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, former Publisher of Leadership Newspaper were also honoured.


The rest are Mr Eddie Aderinokun, former Editor, Daily Express, Mr Ben Egbuna, former Director-General, FRCN and Mr Tony Momoh, a former Mminister of Information and Culture.

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