Prof. Olayinka Alawode, the Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, has urged governments to improve their relationships with media organisations so they could effectively play their roles in political structure.
Alawode said this at the parliamentary summit 2.0 as a posthumous honour to the late Alhaj Lateef Jakande, a veteran journalist during his lifetime and the first civilian governor of Lagos State.
It was organised by the LASU Communication Students’ Representative Council on Wednesday in Lagos with the theme: “Evaluating The Role of Media and Communication In Nigeria’s Political Structure.”
He said that media organisations should be regarded as an arm of government, with an inalienable right in policymaking and governance.
“The media is to act as a link between governments and public opinions, hence, it must be free from government’s control and interference.
“The mass media is expected to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas which will empower the citizens to act in the political realm.
“Media organisations should always act as the public watchdog overseeing the activities of the government and its institutions,” he said.
Alawode said that the theme was deliberately chosen to commemorate the ideals of journalism practised by our patriarch and the founder of LASU, the late Alhaji Lateef Jakande during his lifetime.
“All media organisations should enjoy complete independence from government; in this sense, freedom of the press is defined primarily as freedom from restriction by the state.
“Once media organisations are subject to public regulations, they will lose their bite as the watchdog and may even be transformed into a lapdog,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Oyedamola Oke, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of LASU, said that the topic was actually very pertinent looking back into history to examine the strategic roles the media had played in the enthronement of participatory democracy.
Oke said that globally, it was an established truth that the development of democracy and the media had a kind of symbiotic relationship.
“The media in most developed society enjoy a certain degree of freedom to practice their known trade: to educate and to mobilise the citizenry for active participation in the development process.
“The media that will efficiently carry out their statutory responsibilities must be sufficiently free.
“It is only in an atmosphere of uninterrupted democracy that the media can enjoy such freedom,” he said.
Dr. Tunde Akanni, an Associate Professor of Journalism, School of Communication, LASU, said that government and media organisations relationship had never been friendly in Nigeria.
Akanni, the guest speaker at the programme, said that media organisations could not cut off from the government because the constitution says that government must be accountable to the people.
“Media organisations are supposed to be working for the development of the society.
“If any government is genuinely interested to develop the society and the welfare of the citizens, then they must do everything to support the media,” he said.
Adetumininu Adetoro, the the14th speaker of, Communication Students’ Representative Council, said that the media had over the years been playing a major role in championing good governance.