February 5, 2019
3 mins read
It is my pleasure to welcome you to yet another round of workshop on political broadcast,being the third in the series of training workshops put together by the National Broadcasting Commission to sensitise, share ideas and find solutions to burning issues that have pervaded our polity.
The Commission, in 2016 commissioned consultants to carry out a study on the use of hate and dangerous speech in the 2015 general elections and found out that the broadcast media was a tool used by political gladiators to promote hate and inciting speeches as campaign messages. Thereafter, the Commission swung into action to prevent incidences capable of heating up the polity come 2019.
The first two workshops were held in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria and Sokoto in Northern Nigeria to sensitise broadcasters and other stakeholders in the political process on the consequences and damaging effects of hate, inciting and dangerous speech on the stability of our dear nation.
The Commission however observed,through monitoring reports that there are still significant amount of hate speech, a lot of abusive and indecent comments being used, not only by politicians but also by broadcasters, especially anchors of political programmes who are expected to be guided by the rules and professional ethics. We are therefore in Lagos to further deepen awareness, to share ideas and interact to ensure that we are processionally guided for the electioneering process.
Resulting from the 2015 elections, most international observer reports and, of course reports from the Commission’s monitoring highlighted several challenges faced by broadcasters in carrying out their civic responsibility as the Fourth Estate of the Realm. According to Nigeria Democratic Report (NDR), an NGO managed by the International Press Institute (IPS), the Nigerian media showed high interest in conflict related issues, but largely ignored developmental and enlightenment content in their reportage. Again, while on the averge, the media attempted to show some level of professionalism in the coverage of political actiivities during the period, more media space and time were found to have been devoted to coverage of the two dominant political parties as they threw caution to the wind and used abusive, inciting, namecalling and indecent language against themselves. The situation has still not changed uptill now.
I must say that with the commencement of electioneering campigns on 18th November, 2018, political personalities have once again decided to use the media, through live political campaign rallies and discussion programmes to heat up the polity without editorial control or efforts to ensure professionalism.
While we are aware that broadcasters are faced with multifaced challenges such as, ownership influence, control of incumbent chief executives, and generally, lack of adequate training and experience on the part of broadcast operatives, the regulator has tried to invest heavily in the training of broadcasters and we expect you to, in return adhere to such trainings and conform to the rules.
The Commission appeals to all actors in this process to begin to see Nigeria as the sovereignty that must be protected. So lets us all decide, as we move forward to eradicate hate speech from our political space. Hate speech, for the purpose of definition, is an act aimed at inciting audiences to denegrate other people on the bases of ethnicity, religion, gender, political party and other socially conceived parameter, with the purpose of marginalizing them or placing them at a disadvantage. Monitoring reports on political programmes in Nigeria indicate high level of such speech by majority of our political players. Even our programmes’ anchors have been seen not to correct this trend but rather promote it. They hype notorious contributors in their programmes, they express their own biased and subjective opinions and handle discussion and phone-in programmes poorly without any display of professionalism or ethical standard. Panelists for discussions are assembled without any regard to various political viewpoints and as most discussions are based on personalities rather than issues, the broadcaster forgets his profession and throws caution to the wind when panelists digress or make inciting comments.The broadcaster needs to know that hate speech precedes violence, killings, and genicide.
We have also bserved from monitoring that very important people in our political landscape use hate speech freely on campaign grounds. Hate speech in Nigeria are mostly credited to political leaders. It has virtually become a political strategy to adopt hate speech and fake news to destroy or frame opponents. This could escalate to violence which is not needed at this time in our political process. The onus is on broadcasters therefore, to ensure that content for the airwave are decent and free of hate and inciting comments. Through professional media practice, people get the facts and information they can trust. Thus, for media to function and benefit the electorate positively, it must adhere to ethical standards enshrined in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, the Electoral Act and Extant laws.
The broadcaster need to update and improve himself/herself at every given opportunity. He/she must go beyond the surface in the study of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and comply with rules in order to stay out of trouble. The Commission will intensify action in monitoring and regulating the industry. The Commission vows that from this momment onwards will not hesitate to sanction stations that breach the provisions of the broadcast code.
Sections 5.2.1 through to 5.3.10 and 7.6 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code stipulate guideleinds on political broadcasts and advertisement. Broadcasters should respect the electoral Act on rules regarding stoppage of electioneering campaigns twenty four hours preceding day of election and also the rule regarding announcement of elections resuults.
The Commission has assembled, at this event experienced and tested experts in broadcasting practice and regulation, and from the academia to deliberate on issues that concern media coverage of elections, hate and divisive content and regulatory framework guiding the process.
I enjoin you therefore to pay attention, interact and participate fully in order to understand the dynamics as we move forward, to ensure a free, fair and credible elecion come February, 16 and March, 2, 2019.
Thank you for your time.

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