A veteran journalist and former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, has expressed fear over the controversial Hate Speech Bill, which has passed the second reading at the Senate.
Osoba spoke yesterday at the launch of two books -’The Gatekeepers,’a biographical work featuring 20 Nigerian editors, columnists and media leaders, and ‘Nigerian Journalism: 160 Years of Advancing Accountability, Promoting the Public Interest and Speaking Truth to Power’, published by Posterity Media, in Lagos.
He charged the media as the fourth estate of the realm to do all in its power to sensitise the public and educate the legislators on the pending dangers of such bill should it be passed into law.
While ‘The Gatekeepers’, celebrates the inspiring contributions of editors to democracy and public accountability, ‘Nigerian Journalism’, a series of essays and articles by renowned Nigerian journalists and stakeholders, proffers ideas and insights on how to improve journalism practice in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the former Ogun State governor, “the challenge I want to place before all of you is the bill before the Senate. I read in the papers that the Senate President said the bill will not scale through, but it has now passed second reading.
“Passing second reading means it would go to the committee, while the committee would call for public hearing. Now the challenge before all of you is that, now that the bill is with committee, we should not just sit down and write columns or editorials, each one of us must sit down and write a paper on why the hate bill must not pass.
“We must make the presentation to the committee. Not only that, as many of you that would be able to go to Abuja on the day set for the public hearing, make your presence felt, and explain to the committee the dangers of allowing such a bill to pass.
“I must admit to you that we are being embarrassed by bloggers and social media practitioners. Nobody grounded in journalism would say that what they are doing is right. And I would not want to defend the impunity and blackmail these people do on social media, I will not be part of it. And the very sad part is that, they are not journalists nor trained in this profession. And they do not operate under the code of conducts of journalism practice all over the world.
“But our challenge as journalists and even myself is to appear before the Senate committee when they call for public hearing, and express the dangers in passing the social media bill and hate speech bills into law.
“Secondly, I want to appeal to you, that we should all invade social media. All of us as trained journalists must use all our online platforms and invade the social media to give credible news and investigative journalism, which is the kind of news we should be more focused on. That way, we would begin to change the negative impression of social media overtime, and also create good alternative for readers and overtime, they would lose interest in fake news.”
Speaking on the books, the author, Femi Kolawole, said the books were as a result of his belief that “journalists and especially editors, who act as media gatekeepers, deserve to be recognized and applauded for their tireless jobs in ensuring that Nigeria becomes a country that offers hope and limitless opportunities to its people.
“’The Gatekeepers Volume 2’, is a biography work on 20 Nigerian editors, columnists and media leaders and their inspiring contributions to good governance and democracy”.
Some of the editors featured in the books include Mr. Mike Awoyinfa, veteran newspaper chief and former MD/Editor-in-Chief, The Sun; Mr. Dare Babarinsa, Editor-in-Chief, Gaskia Media Limited; Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, Chairman, THISDAY Editorial Board; Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, immediate past editor, The Nation; Mr. Eze Anaba, Editor, Vanguard; Mr. Tokunbo Adedoja, Digital Director, THISDAY; Mr. Don Okere, Editor, Daily Independent; Mr. Debo Abdulai, Editor, Tribune; Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, Managing Director, The Sun; Mrs. Olabisi Deji-Folutile, former Saturday Editor, The Punch; Mr. Seye Kehinde, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, City People; Mr. Azuh Arinze, Editor-in-Chief, YES International Magazine; and Mrs. Juliet Bumah, Editor, Sunday Telegraph, among others.