Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that Nigeria is not a perfect nation but the cure for its imperfections is most certainly neither destruction nor a heedless descent into anarchy being promoted by some voices.
He admitted that debates over Nigeria’s future will always be intense and passionate but they need not be toxic or polarizing.
All Nigerians, according to him, have a share in the much needed work of rebuilding, redesigning, reforming and healing our nation.
“Creating commonality of purpose in ethnically and culturally diverse societies is challenging the world over. However, nation-building is not the sole preserve of politicians and governments; in fact, it is just as much a task for civil society of which the media is an important member,” Osinbajo said at a memorial tagged “An Afternoon of Tributes in honour of nine departed giants of the media at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
The event, anchored by the duo of Kadaria Ahmed and Ademola Oyinlola, was organised by The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).
Osinbajo said the giants being celebrated understood that journalism operates in a social context and cannot be value-neutral.
This same cognitive commitment, he said, is incumbent upon all media workers.
According to him, Nigeria is at a time in its national odyssey in which retailers of discord and merchants of strife are working assiduously against our collective potential as a people.
He said: “Among the powers of the press is the ability to amplify and drown out voices. Media practitioners have a responsibility to exercise discernment in their deployment of their platforms.
“In this regard, we must ask ourselves whether we are empowering and amplifying the most insensate, intemperate and incendiary voices in our midst while marginalizing voices of reason.
“It is true that freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution. But, we all agree that society, progress and order depend upon the responsible exercise of freedom, otherwise the end result will be anarchy.”
Continuing, he said: “As we struggle to build our nation with the bricks of mutuality, plurality and tolerance, I would suggest that those of us that stand as gatekeepers in the fourth estate must demonstrate a greater awareness of the sensibilities and sensitivities of our society. Debates over our country’s future will always be intense and passionate but they need not be toxic or polarizing.
“The media can help to promote a climate of civility in which even the most contentious national issues can be discussed in full and frank terms without degenerating into chaos. Let us reject the temptation to fracture our society and choose instead to elevate those constructive elements in our midst that can promote justice, healing and togetherness.”
He also said: “I remain unyielding in my belief that we have a common destiny and that we, the constituents of this nation, are stronger together. I believe that all of us have a stake in advancing the cause of justice, equity and progress. This is a task that is incumbent on all of us.”
Media leaders honoured posthumously were Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Alhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua, Chief Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Mr. Bisi Lawrence, Malam Wada Maida, Mr. Eddie Aderinokun, Mr. Ben Egbuna, Prince Tony Momoh and Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Media icons who took turns to eulogise the media honourees included Chief Segun Osoba, Mr. Sam Amuka represented by Gbenga Adefaye, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Mr. Tony Akiotu, Mr. Ray Ekpu, Mr. Lade Bonuola, Mr. Lanre Idowu, Mr. John Momoh and Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene.
The event had in attendance Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Deputy Governor of Ogun State , Mrs. Noimot Salako -Oyedele, Aremo Segun Osoba, and top media executives, including Chairman, The Guardian newspaper, Maiden Ibru, the Etsu Nupe, Alh.Yahaya Abubakar Kusodu Nupe, among others.