Over 60 national broadcasters gathered at Terra Kulture yesterday for Communicating for Change’s (CFC) Broadcasters ’ Forum on the Role of Media in Successful Election. With support from the Ford Foundation, CFC premiered two short films–Game Over and One Voice is A Majority– that address such electoral issues as voter apathy and election poll violence. (Click here for my on-location coverage of the filming of Game Over). CFC created the storylines to address what its contracted professional research company uncovered about people’s views of the electoral process after conducting research groups and interviews in Kano, Enugu, and Lagos.
Sandra Obiago (CFC Founder/ Director) presented the two films to the broadcasters in attendance with a challenge:
…unless you continue to rise up and create strong platforms for these kinds of messages to guide Nigerians in the right direction–empower them to choose democracy and good governance over bribery, corruption, and dirty politics –unless you work in partnership with us–your VERY OWN survival is not guaranteed. We are in this struggle together and as the saying goes, ‘one hand washes the other’.
Obiago also stressed that the media that supports the education of the electorate ensures that they can continue to operate properly and fulfill their role in a democratic system that protects freedom of speech.
The event continued with a panel moderated by John Momoh (Chairman, Channels Television) and included Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye (Head of the Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos); Olufemi Ayeni (Zonal Director, National Broadcasting Commission); as well as Ngozi Iwere (Executive Director, Community Life Project).
After demonstrating that only one person in attendance had read the federal voting law, Prof. Akinfeleye emphasized the media’s role in the interpretation and education of electoral legislation for the general public. Iwere highlighted the difference between “public relations journalism” and “investigative journalism” by encouraging journalists to “scrutinize the candidates”. Ayeni referenced the National Broadcasting Code in his entreaty for the media to pay attention to their generated content and to “avoid praise-singing and denying access to contrary political views.”
CFC plans to hold similar Broadcasters’ Forums to screen the films in Port Harcourt, Kano, and Abuja in the coming weeks.