Oyo State again set the pace with the recently concluded Information Summit. The theme was “Managing Information and Communications: The Catalyst For Sustainable Development.
WOLE ADEJUMO was at the two-day summit and brings some of the behind the scene gists and how some of the participants fared.
What necessitated the summit
Apart from affording stakeholders in the media industry the opportunity to interact, the summit aims at improving and strengthening the information machinery of government and the media as partners in the development of Oyo State. It is also to create a platform for putting measures in place to detect and counter misinformation and fake news via the mass media and in the process promote peace and national unity.
Felix Adenaike’s fatherly warning
As Chairman of the event, veteran journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Tribune, Mr.. Félix Adenaike lived up to his billing. After taking the gathering through how he started journalism at the Ministry of Information in the Western State in 1966, Baba Adenaike explained to the younger generation of media practitioners that communication is the means of transmitting information from one person to another. He however stressed that ‘when information is not available, rumour takes charge. The challenge is to devise a strategy of blocking rumours from circulating’.
While describing online media practitioners as ‘agents of rumour mongering’, he appealed to them to always give their audience facts. “Facts are sacred and information is the engine oil of the society”, he disclosed.
Who invited’ Oshokomale’?
Everything the Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose does is in the news. Though his entry drew applause; he was quick to point out that he was attending the event on the invitation of his Oyo State counterpart, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
He however did not leave without a word for media practitioners. While advising journalists to shun partisanship, Governor Fayose urged them to look inwards. “Most journalists have become political and this affects their reports. You can only lead by example and so, I advise you to get it right. If you get it right, the country will get it right”, he said.
Speaking on Fayose’s invitation, Governor Ajimobi said “his coming exemplifies the reason why we are here; good information and communication strategy. I communicated the need for him to join me here”.
Governor Ajimobi’s definition of ‘Constituted Authority’
Governor Ajimobi, who stressed the need to play a major role in branding, described himself as “the number one brand ambassador of Oyo State and jokingly the Constituted Authority of Oyo State”. The Governor explained that a constituted authority refers to someone who is either elected or selected to a position.
He would later state that everyone is a constituted authority in his or her own right. “You are the constituted authority in your house, either as a mother or father, you are the constituted authority and if you say you are neither a father nor a mother, you are the constituted authority of your body”.
“Why Yanju Adegbite needs to be corrected”
While inviting the Governor of Oyo State to the podium, Yanju Adegbite, the Project Coordinator of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State, BCOS, described Governor Ajimobi as “the most cerebral governor that has ever ruled Oyo State”.
Mr. Governor would however not go on without straightening things out. “I think Yanju Adegbite shoud be corrected. He said I am the most cerebral Governor that has ruled Oyo State; I don’t want to agree with that. This state has had cerebral governors, we have had the likes of General Jemibewon, Chief Bola Ige, Dr. Olunloyo, Baba Lam Adesina, in fact everyone that has been Governor in Oyo State is highly cerebral, though the level varies. What he should have said is that I am the most cerebral Governor he has worked with, because he has only worked with me,” he said.
Ajimobi’s advice for media practitioners
In his speech, Governor Ajimobi affirmed that “a good government is one with many information channels that give real time information. Oyo State has enjoyed a pride of place in in the print and electronic media. It is the base of Nigerian Tribune, the oldest surviving privately owned newspaper, the birth place of WNBC/WNBS, the home of Radio OYO, the first state owned FM station in Nigeria. Any journalist worthy of the name must have had a direct connection with Oyo State”.
Speaking further, he implored media practitioners to “correctly and factually inform our people so that the government and people can work in one direction”. He also pointed out that “credibility is important in journalism”. He therefore offered a piece of advice; “let us be objective. Whatever you do, reduce subjectivity”.
We saw the better Arulogun!
The summit afforded many media practitioners and participants the opportunity of seeing Alhaji Adegboyega Arulogun, the father of Toye Arulogun, the Commissioner for Information again.
The elder Arulogun, described by Governor Ajimobi as “the better Arulogun” was a media guru in his younger days. He had been in practice since the WNBC/WNBS days and even in his days at the NTA, he was known for a high level of professionalism.
Between Yinka Agboola and Professor Olowofela
In his goodwill message on behalf of online publishers, Yinka Agboola, the Chairman of the South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP) spoke about the activities of the association which he said includes the promotion of professionalism and objectivity among online media practitioners.
He established a link between that and education. He would later describe it as pathetic that states like Borno and Bauchi are ranked ahead of Oyo State by examination bodies. Turning to the Commissioner for Education, Professor Adeniyi Olowofela, Agboola said “the foundation of education is being weakened. Prof, I am sorry to tell you this; we are ashamed”. That, in the opinion of some participants, was a blow ‘below the belt’.
Of course the Commissioner delivered the next goodwill message on behalf of members of the Oyo State Executive Council. Not one to allow himself to be outdone in such a gathering, Prof fired a quick equalizer. He was quick to point out that the state government has instituted School Governing Boards in all the 628 public schools in the state and that there is hardly a school in the state where one developmental project or the other is not ongoing.
While stating that the situation has improved from what it was in the past, Prof posited “that the result people are bandying around is that of 2016”. His last salvo was that “online media must publish facts because lies repeatedly told will wear the toga of truth”.
Frank talk from Reuben Abati
Dr. Reuben Abati, a former presidential spokesman did not mince words in stating that “social media has redefined how we receive and process information”. He also made it clear that even newspaper outfits have started exploring the opportunities being offered by the internet.
On the activities of bloggers, Abati pointed out that the major minus is that “many bloggers hide under fake names to publish fake news”. Differentiating them from professionals, he noted that “the professional journalist is trained to leave out when in doubt”.
Professor Ojebode’s brilliant submission
In the technical session that bordered on language use in communication, Prof Ayobami Ojebode, the Head of Department, Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan delivered a paper titled Language As An Instrument of War and Peace. By the time he was done, he got a standing ovation.
He reminded participants that the use of words have led to war in some places in the past. He also made it known that when words lead to war, it is always in a progression as there can hardly be physical aggression without verbal aggression.
Speaking on essentialization, Ojebode wondered how a thirsty stranger asking for water became the name of an entire ethnic group; “Nyamirin” (as he disclosed that “Nya miri” means give me water in Igbo language) or how the quantity of oil in a woman’s soup became a derogatory term, “Ndi ofe mmanu”. He also reminded that “aboki”, the Hausa word for friend, has since become a derogatory term. He however pointed out that sometimes they start as jokes.
He posited that to promote positive peace, the use of democratic language has to be encouraged as against autocratic language. “Words have social and oppressive implications; hence the need to review the framework for socializing young people”, he stressed.
Photos: Olawale Awe