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Saturday, November 25, 2023

Bala Mohammed Vs Ortom: The Need For Media to Gate keep Toxic Utterances

By John Habila Murrai

The incessant clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria have been one of the major sources of concern amongst the citizenry, particularly governments at levels as efforts are been made to address the problem.

Federal and state governments and indeed the general public have greater roles to play in ensuring that sustainable peace and stability is achieved to enable Nigerians to live and sleep with their two eyes closed wherever they are as enshrined in our constitution.

The issue however became topical recently at the closing the ceremony of the Bauchi state correspondents’ chapel’s week where Governor BALA MOHAMMED weigh in on the contentious issue of clashes between farmers and herders citing the eviction and other forms of restriction orders issued by some state governments and non-governmental entities as some of the reasons that are further infuriating the crisis, leaving the Fulani herdsmen with no option than to protect themselves with arms.

The said statement however did not go down well with the Governor of Benue state Mr Samuel Ortom whom the Bauchi state governor personally cited as someone who started it under the Benue state grazing law.

Since then there has been accusations and counter accusations from many quarters with the media spearheading this war of words between Governor BALA MOHAMMED and his friend Governor Samuel ortom with no regard to the Gatekeeping and the development communication theories of mass communication.

The main features of development communication theory include, development roles and objectives, to help people, no manipulation or propaganda, generate a genuine response from the audience, used to developed critical consciousness, two-way communication flow, and uses development communication tools, while the gatekeeping theory is the process through which information is filtered for dissemination, whether for publication, broadcasting, the internet or some other forms of communication.

Governor BALA MOHAMMED through his media aide comrade MUKTAR GIDADO had said at no time did his principal set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality, Governor Samuel Ortom on other hand is pointing accusing fingers at his colleague and brother Governor BALA MOHAMMED of BAUCHI state for supporting Fulani herdsmen.

As the issue lingers amongst the two chief executives of their States owing to the fact that they took an oath to protect lives and properties of their citizens, the media as the only profession expressly recognized by Nigeria’s constitution as the fourth estate of the realm should be guided by the laws and ethics of the profession so as to keep the peace, particularly now that the country is in its trying moment.

By the virtue of their offices and the oath they took, no Governor would encourage criminal acts and as such, they should take the roles of dousing tensions rather than promoting what will further divide Nigerians base on ethnic or religious lines for sustainable growth and development.

John Habila Murrai writes from Bauchi

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