Mass Communication scholars have charged the Nigerian media to intensify its effort in holding government at all levels accountable. The experts said the media need to step up its role in enforcing accountability in the country. Speaking at a 3-day town hall meeting organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Professor Abigail Ogwezzy Ndisika of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, said it is the duty of the media to deepen Nigerian democracy by holding public office holders accountable to their promises to the people. Ndisika urged the media to constantly monitor and supervise government officials to avoid institutional failure and abuse of power: “With what we are doing presently can we justifiably say that we are given voice to the voiceless and representing the public interest? “Your job goes beyond a supervisory role, providing guidance, direction and making inputs, an editor should work with his reporters and be involved in the story the reporters do from the scratch in order to change narration of governance in our country and protect the interest of the voiceless. So, accountability requires resilience and the media must continue to uphold its constitutional duty.’’ On his part, Professor Richard Ikiebe of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, said media has a profound role in deepening the democracy of the country. He said most Nigerians depend on the media to learn what is happening around them.
According to Ikiebe, the press is essential for democracy to thrive for national building. He said, “For a nation to be successful, it needs a strong media and educated audience. The media has contributed immensely to defining the political culture that has shaped Nigeria. “The challenge, therefore, was for the press to prove itself a worthy agency of information and debate which facilitates the functioning of democracy. We should not over-focus on politics because the media cannot absolve themselves of their contribution to Nigerian pseudo-democracy. If there is going to be any salvation for this country, the media has to set up its duties.” In his opening remarks, NGE President, Mustapha Isah, said Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, which says, the press, radio, tele vision, and other agencies of the media should, at all times, be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, gives the media the enormous responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people. Isah said it is only when media practitioners perform their role that good governance can take root. He said: “Freedom of the media allows for the creation of a public space in which a wide range of debates and expression of a variety of viewpoints can take place. A free and critical press is essential for the growth and development of any democracy. The media, as a watchdog of society, owes it as a duty to monitor governance and hold public office holders accountable to the people who elected them.”