ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigerian House of Representatives is to partner with Online Media (New Media) Journalists in the National Assembly to curb the menace of fake news and quackery.
This was, even as, the House also called on New Media practitioners in Nigeria to diversify into reaching Nigerians in their indigenous languages in order to drum home the culture of democracy and rule of law.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu disclosed this Tuesday evening, during a courtesy visit by the National Assembly New Media Forum (a forum of Online Journalists), at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
The House Spokesman noted that the emergence of the New Media has democratized information dissemination and improved the participation of the public in issues of governance, not just only in Nigeria but the world over.
“Technology makes the job easy. Technology makes access to information better, and faster. Technology makes you feel the piece of information as if you were there,” he noted.
Speaking on the need to reach more Nigerians with vital and accurate information, Hon. Kalu called on Online Journalists and Publishers to “sharpen” their delivery skills, especially language skills in order to communicate more effectively with the audience.
He noted that being online should not restrict news medium to the English language alone.
“That you are online does not restrict you to only English language. You could be online in Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Urhobo, Ijaw, Ibibio or any of our indigenous languages,” he advised.
Kalu noted that the 9th House of Representatives was exploring ways “to engage the public in their own languages or pidgin English.”
The Spokesman restated the resolve of the 9th House of Representative under the leadership of Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila to partner the New Media in mainstreaming democratic values and culture in Nigeria.
He noted that, “the National Assembly has a very fragile image and that has been fueled by wrong narratives pushed through the media that ordinarily is supposed to be telling the stories the way they are” while calling for collaborations to end the menace of fake news and quackery around the National Assembly complex.
He assured that the House of Representatives was determined to dismantle the opaque view of the National Assembly as an institution and an arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria through a transparent engagement with the public through the online media platforms.
He said, “The House of Representatives is willing to partner with the online media, especially under my watch as the spokesman of the House of Representatives.
“Good enough, the Speaker is very interested in working with you. If the Speaker did not show interest in working with you, I would not be here. The Speaker has shown interest that we need to do a diversification of media platform so that we can achieve our aim of dissolving the opaque view of the National Assembly, this cloud, the veil that have enveloped the activity of the National Assembly.
“The more we crack it, unveil it, the more transparent we become before the people we are representing, and the more they understand through platforms of transparency, the more they understand what we do, the more we are accountable to them, the more the credibility of this institution will rise. And the more the credibility of this institution, the more the confidence of the citizens in this institution. The more confident the citizens have in this institution which remains the fulcrum of democracy, the more they believe in the principles of the rule of democracy, because this is the backbone of democracy.
“Why the public is attacking the National Assembly is because they don’t seem to understand what we are doing here.
“And that is why we seek strategic partnership with people like you, the online media who control the bulk of social media participants”.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the National Assembly New Media Forum, Comrade Yemi Itodo, thanked the Spokesman for his openness and professionalism in handling the image management of the House of Representatives.
Itodo noted that, despite the antagonism and suspicion of online journalism by traditional media practitioners, the “New Media remains the way to go in journalism and media practice. ”
He called on the leadership of the House of Representatives to support online journalists through various capacity building opportunities for better output.
Itodo assured the Spokesman and the leadership of the House of Representatives of the readiness of online journalists to partner with them and indeed the National Assembly in reaching out to the Nigerian public for a better understating and appreciation of the tedious and patriotic roles the parliament is playing to stabilize democracy in Nigeria.