As the 2019 general elections approach, the Bishop Peter Odetoyinbo of Abeokuta Catholic Diocese has challenged the nation’s journalists to take responsibility of their contributions to the peace or troubles in Nigeria, urging them to promote peace and shun dissemination of fake news.
Bishop Odetoyinbo, who threw the challenge in his homily at this year’s World Communications Day at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Cathedral, Itesi, Abeokuta, Ogun State, said that journalists should not allow themselves to be used to deceive Nigerians in the build up to next year’s general elections.
He reminded journalists that their families were also part of the recipients of the news, authentic or fake. “If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, you the journalists. You are in touch with people’s lives for all you write and post, and so, you must be sure of what you disseminate, ensuring accuracy of sources, protection of dignity of persons, generating trust and opening the way to communion and peace.
“The path to peace in the world is in your hands and more importantly in our situation in Nigeria that is heated up by killings, kidnappings, raping, denial of rights to life and good living conditions, as we prepare for the 2019 elections with the era of hate speeches,” he said.
The cleric charged all Nigerians to promote a journalism of peace, one that is truthful and opposed to falsehood, rhetorical slogans and sensational headlines, a journalism created by the people for the people, one that is at the service of all, especially those who have no voice.
He noted journalism as a good tool and very useful for the promotion of family, societal, economic, religious, intellectual, moral and many other values, stressing that it keeps the world together, makes the world a family.
This is what the world wants to do to save lives, families and the society, to promote good governance and good citizenship of earth and heaven accordingly and respectively, he added.
While acknowledging journalism as a noble profession, the man of God urged the press to re-examine how they and their employers had used the media.
Positing that the annual celebration was a call to order, he challenged them to channel their news towards building a peaceful, just and egalitarian society with good news that promotes the dignity of human person and love in the society.
“The more the good news we have, the more peace and joy in the society and the more the fake and evil news are confronted and destroyed,” he said.