Rotimi Sankore, Editorial Board Chair, Nigeria Info Radio Group, has charged the media in Nigeria to report based on data and make use of journalism to solve the problems in the country. He made the call at the 11th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series, held on Saturday, 13 July 2019 at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
Speaking as a panellist at the lecture on theme – “Rethinking Credible Elections, Accountable Democracy and Good Governance in Nigeria”, Sankore said the media has the role to report factually and truthfully, as well as to educate and solve problems, not to contribute it.
He cited example of the controversial Rural Grazing Area settlement (RUGA), Boko Haram crisis, girl child education and health situation in the north, to how the lack of in-depth reporting, verification of facts and deployment of evidence by the media have denied the people the opportunity to engage issues appropriately.
“It is always important to note that all the problems that happen in Nigeria are not peculiar to Nigeria. The media has to look at the global picture. There is this idea that one ethnic group somewhere is out to take over the rest of the century because of cattle, it is not true.
“In Brazil, in Mexico, in Texas, in Argentina, are there Fulanis, armed cowboys herding the cattle? A struggle for land, water and resources is what happens when there is poor policy and it becomes deadly. This problem has been solved 50 to 100 years ago in other parts of the world by using trains to move the cattle and by ensuring that there is a business model for ranching like there is for poultry or piggeries. Nigeria spends over 1 billion dollars every year importing milk.
“For older people, if you ask anybody here that what is the most famous ranch they know in Nigeria, they will say it is Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River. How does ethnicity enter it? so we really have to be careful how we report things? We have to report to solve problems. A state like Lagos with about 20 to 21 million people needs about 4 to 5 ranches just like it has many poultries. Anybody from any part of the country should be able to apply for the land, for the loan, you invest and start up your ranch. We have to report in a way that solves problems and not contribute,” he said.
Reacting to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s move to restrict the number of political parties in the country, Sankore said, “Why are we restricting the registration of parties? We do not even have really ideological parties in Nigeria, and we want to restrict for the money bags?”