Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday said except during the civil war, Nigeria had never been so fractured in the feeling of oneness and belongingness by the citizenry.
The former president said this yesterday while delivering a keynote speech at the first National Media Summit organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ.
Obasanjo, represented by the former executive secretary of National Universities Commission, NUC, Professor Peter Okebukola, said an average of 20 hotspots existed in the country.
The hotspots, Obasanjo said, had huge potentials for national disintegration, identifying Niger Delta Avengers, Boko Haram and herdsmen-farmers clashes as top three.
He said the summit would be a successful one if it could find answers to the question of “how did we get to where we are and what action must be taken to arrest the slide towards factionalisation and national disintegration.
Obasanjo, who charged the media industry on unity and cohesion, said mass media were being used to torture public office holders forgetting that press was not given power to execute judgement.
According to him, Nigeria needs a press that will not promote sectionalism, tribalism and nepotism, adding that policies of government needed to be tackled and not the personalities.
He further advised that the press should educate the masses about effects of social evil, serve as a mediator and not instigator of conflicts.
“The media as a watchdog must play a significant role in scrutinising public policies. It should provide credible sources as initial leads to mismanagement, nepotism and corruption practices.
“The press should educate the masses about I’ll effects of social evils and injustice. Journalists and media organisations ought to serve as mediators and not instigators of conflicts.
“Newspaper house, television, radio station and social media now use mass media to torture public office holders forgetting that the Nigeria constitution makes it clear that the press is not given the power to execute judgement of public officials.
“Our strength as a nation lies in our unity and national cohesion and I want to entreat you to begin to preach the gospel of unity in diversity and unity of purpose and cohesion.”
While declaring the event open, Governor Ibikunle Amosun said, “It is imperative that journalists as professionals should always be on their guard against forces that seek to take advantage of the formidable power of the profession for their selfish ends.
“It has even become more important that the profession divests itself of partisanship, ensure objectivity in its reportage and inculcate investigative journalism if it desires to continue to remain relevant.
“Journalism, as a profession, is seen all over the world as the fourth estate of the realm after the executive, legislature and the judiciary which occupy the first, second and third place respectively. It serves as the watchdog of the government.
“Based on this position therefore, the people often look forward to the profession for information dissemination and unravelling of the hidden truth without fear or favour.
“The profession is seen as the best of all because it has a ready-made audience in the citizens who expect journalists to tell, inform and clarify to them those grey areas, especially as it relates to governance and happenings in their environment,” Obasanjo noted.