Former Commissioner for information in Rivers, Ibim Semenitari has tasked owners of media houses and journalists in Nigeria to stop compromising their responsibilities by hobnobbing with politicians or giving them awards rather than holding them accountable for their actions.
Semenatari made this known while speaking on the “Link Between Investigative Journalism and People-led Demand for Good Governance”, during TheCable Colloquium Wednesday, attended by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) in Lagos.
She said media awards to politicians were encouraging corruption rather than questioning their actions while in office.
She also insisted that journalists must not relent in asking tough questions about accountability in governance while lamenting that ‘cash-for-news’ syndrome and poor funding was taking a massive toll on the quality of news and investigations.
“Some media houses are still giving politicians awards instead of questioning their actions and this encourages corruption and it should stop.
“The media must demarcate where to compromise and until the values change the media will not make remarkable progress.”
Semenitari, who was a former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), however, urged journalists to conduct investigations that will ignite people to demand accountability and good governance.
She added that citizens need to understand how much power they have and the need for them to start forming coalitions to drive their demands home.
“For us as investigative reporters, we are actually the catalyst that will ignite the people-led demands. How? It is in our ability to keep our eyes on the story.
“So, if the government comes and I say ‘I promise you that by the end of the year, this budget can deliver XYZ, investigative reporting enables us to stay on that matter until it is done.
“The first thing for us as investigative reporters is to ignite the anger. When we have ignited the anger, we must again collaborate, as I keep talking about.
“And as citizens, we must begin to form coalitions where we demand the things that are due to us. It is, by the way, a government of the people by the people for the people,” Semenitari stressed.
On his part, Executive Director of Signature TV, VinMartins Ilo called for the creation of national budgetary allocation in support of the media given its key role in nation-building and development.
“Funding is important in the media. The constitution provides for the duties of the media, but nobody cares how the media survives.
“So, we need to work out something, even if it’s one per cent, either from petroleum or from whatever kind of tax, to support the media because any society without a vibrant, viable media is doomed,” Ilo stated.