By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA-As the National Broadcasting Commission held its 4th Annual Lecture 2018, Stakeholders in the Broadcasting Industry have tasked broadcasters to use their medium in bridging the gap in Nigeria’s Ethno-Cultural and Religious Divide.
This is just as broadcasters were also enjoined to promote unity and growth of the country by engaging in healthy debates.
The Chief Host and Minister of Information and Culture Alh. Lai Mohammed, in his opening remarks, stated that the lecture is one of the strategic plans that NBC has adopted to cultivate and build a relationship with its stakeholders and the Nigerian Public.
He noted that the theme of the lecture “Broadcasting and Nigeria’s Ethno-cultural and Religious Divide: Bridging the gap”, is apt, given the many ethno-religious conflicts confronting the nation at this time.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Priscilla Ihuoma, commended the Management and Staff of the NBC and reassured them of the his support.
Also Speaking, the Chairman, Board of the Commission and former Minister of State for Information, Alh. Ikra Bilbis encouraged Broadcasters to use their medium for the unity and growth of the country , rather than for their selfish gains.
According to him, “Broadcasting is critical to ethnicity and religion, how we use the broadcast medium can affect our culture, relationship positively or negatively. Our religion and Culture should unite us, not divide us.
“Broadcast is not a medium for abusive and ethno speech, we must give everyone the opportunity to speak in a decent manner, we must build respect among us as a nation” he said.
He further noted that the Commission is committed to make the broadcast medium in Nigeria effective and impactful to the people of Nigeria, adding that they will ensure that the 2019 elections are covered and reported professionally.
Speaking further, the Special Guest of Honour, Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, called on the NBC to be resilient and determined to ensure professionalism without fear or favour in regulating the industry.
“Nigerian broadcasters must contribute to a healthy and democratic society and they must challenge all of us to work with renewed fervour for the betterment of our country. I appeal to Nigerian Broadcasters to be sensitive in their broadcast” he remarked.
Shettima who was represented by the Commissioner of Justice, Shehu Lawal, noted also that Nigeria’s Ethno-Cultural and religious divides have been manipulated for purposes of power acquisition, adding that they can however become sources of strength when properly thought through and Nigerian Broadcasters must strive for that.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General, National Broadcasting Commission, Is’haq Kawu, noted that broadcasting is a platform which reflects the social space and so, can often be a conveyor of the deep emotions associated with ethno-cultural and religious divide.
While stating that the topic speaks to an issue of enduring and contemporary resonance in the country, he added that it is imperative for broadcasting to be a bridge-building industry.
He said that, “While radical scholars often argue that the basic contradictions in a society must be located in its base, at the level of the subsoil of Political Economy; the secondary contradictions, at the levels of consciousness, can often be the most vicious terrains of battle. Over the years of Nigeria’s nationhood, the secondary contradictions, at the Ethno-cultural and religious levels have appeared to be the most intractable and most fought over”.
In his keynote paper presentation, the founder Savannah Centre for Diplomacy , Democracy and Development (SCDDD), Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, noted that the real divide lies in the misuse of ethnicity, culture and religion, which are elements of national identity.
Gambari pointed out, that the real gaps must be bridged through conscious efforts aimed at promoting unity, adding that new messages of solidarity and strength in diversity should be escalated.