Chief Olusegun Osoba, former governor of Ogun, has urged the National Assembly to be mindful of infringement on the freedom of expression enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution in consideration of bill against hate speeches.
Osoba said this on Wednesday at the unveiling of the 20 room guest house built by the Lagos Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Somolu, Lagos.
He blamed those he described as fake journalists, whom he said lacked requisite qualification, for escalating hate speeches on social media.
Osoba,who is also a veteran journalist, said that professional journalists usually engaged in self censorship such that only one per cent of news materials that could cause division in the nation was let out while the other 90 per cent was down played.
He, however, said that reverse was the case with none professional journalists who were dominating social media space with inflammatory statements that divide the nation.
The former governor lamented the activities of bloggers and other quacks who parade themselves as journalists sending out reports that caused tension in the country.
Osoba advised professional journalists to key into ongoing biometric registration of journalists in the nation to flush out quacks.
““We are going through difficult times; this hate speech is an attack on the freedom of expression.
“”If anybody must legislate, it must take into account anything that would undermine the freedom of expression,’’ he said.
He called on journalists to seize advantage of the new media by creating blogs to ensure accurate and objective information occupy the social media space.
““People will always listen to credible radio, TV and follow credible sites,’’ he said.
Osoba commended the outgoing leadership of the Lagos NUJ for managing resources to construct the two-storey guest houses on the portion of land which was formerly swampy.
The veteran journalist said that the vision and efforts of the outgoing executives was a source of inspiration to him and the older generation of journalists.
Osoba also commended the Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration for engaging media professionals to run its information ministry.
Ambode, represented by Mr Fola Adeyemi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information commended the Lagos NUJ Chairman, Mr Deji Elumoye, for continuing on the efforts of past Lagos NUJ executives to construct the Somolu House.
Ambode also urged journalists in the state to be conversant with their responsibility of objective journalism.
“”This building must always remind journalists of their responsibility as watchdog of the society and report balanced positions,’’ Ambode said.
NUJ National President, Mr Waheed Odusile, said that the Federal and State Governments should learn financial management from the Lagos NUJ who utilised its meagre Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the edifice.
“”Elumoye’s administration deserves a standing ovation for this edifice,’’ Odusile said.
The president called on journalists to key into ongoing nationwide biometric registration of journalists, adding that about 2,000 journalists have been captured so far.
He urged the incoming executives of the Lagos NUJ to build on the success of Elumoye and previous leaders who left projects behind for the union.
Earlier while delivering his welcome address, Elumoye said that the building with 20 rooms, which was built out of the union’s IGR, was 90 per cent completed.
He said that N55 million was so far spent on the project, adding that, the union would need up to N35 million to complete it, bringing the total cost to N90 million.
““We generated our revenue internally from the Light House in Victoria Island and the proceeds were channelled into the project.
“”The project is 90 per cent completed. Some furnishings and tidying up is what is left.
““We want to call it unveiling because it was our administration that started it (project) four years ago,’’ he said.
He commended the Lagos State Government for supporting the unveiling of the project with N5 million.
Elumoye told journalists that apart from the project, his administration was also able to give educational grant to 150 journalists to get requisite certificates in journalism, adding that, the union gave N25, 000 tuition to each beneficiary.
Mr Adeleye Ajayi, a chairmanship candidate in the forthcoming NUJ election said the guest houses would enlarge the revenue base of the union.
“”I commend the outgoing executives of the union for not borrowing to erect this edifice.
“”It is my prayer that the would-be workers in the guest house will justify the purpose for which it was built,’’ he said.
Also present at the occasion were former chairmen of the union, Mr Lanre Arogundade and Mrs Funke Fadugba as well as other past and present executives of the union.