By Patrick Obia
Almost three dozen civic space actors in South – South Nigeria met in Calabar, the Cross River State capital on Monday to create a civic forum to reclaim the shrinking civic space.
The select group of Journalists, civil society organizations actors, activists among others agreed that there was need to seek new ways for stakeholder engagement in a bid to combat the increase in the violation of civic rights by the government.
This was the focus of a one day workshop held Monday in Calabar organised by CrossRiverWatch and We The People with funding from the Open Society Initiative For West Africa (OSIWA) where different speakers harped on the need to be battle ready as an activist.
The Executive Director of We The People, Comrade Ken Henshew in his presentation said the increase in attempts of draconian laws against the civic space by political gladiators coupled with COVID-19 pandemic calls for re-strategy by Civic Space actors.
He asserted that the Rights of citizens were not derived from the government and as such, citizens should not beg for it as it is given by God. He charged journalists to get back their dignity and stressed the need for the creation of a network.
On his part, Comrade Agba Jalingo in his presentation said every truly practicing journalist that knows his or her onions can not be objective in his reportage, positing that, in the call for you to be objective, compromises and negotiations comes in adding that there is no media organization that is objective anywhere inferring that the only objective reporting is in heaven.
In order not to fall victim of these harsh policies, legislations and violation of human Rights, law Professor, Tony Ukam in his presentation urged civic space actors to get legal backings and read wide.
Ukam, represented by Barr. Wale Ogundipe posited that, the press being the fourth estate of the realm and custodian of conscience of the people is very important in every society.
He further stated that journalism is a divine call to its practitioners who need to do it to the very best. He beseeched journalists and activists to live up to expectations and emulate the likes of Dele Giwa, Peter Enahoro adding that collaboration amongst themselves is key as Nigeria is in serious bad state regards to it’s practice.
Participants were also schooled on the need to fact-check information and how to go about it as well as tips for surviving on the field.
Below are photographs from the workshop…
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