The United States Embassy in Nigeria and Nigerian Guild of Editors have flagged town hall meetings and workshops to promote democracy and good governance.
The flagged off in Lagos on Thursday is the first of the six-media-focused town halls and workshops that would be held across the country.
A statement on Thursday by US Embassy read: “Recognizing the vital importance of a free press and ‘the fourth Estate” to democracy and good governance, the U.S. Embassy and the Nigerian Guild of Editors co-launched today in Lagos the first of six media-focused Town Halls and Workshops that will take place across the country in the next several months.
“The capacity-building programme will provide a forum for over 200 participating Nigerian editors and leaders of the independent press to discuss and share best practices, and to also hear from U.S. experts on topics such as journalistic standards, identifying bias, and conducting fact-based investigative reporting to better inform the Nigerian public.”
Delivering keynote remarks at the opening programme in Lagos, U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard discussed the challenges faced by Nigeria and other democracies across the world and highlighted democracy’s greatest strengths: the ability to improve upon and reinvent itself. When the citizenry’s belief in democracy, good governance and elections are restored, invariably they will want to be a part of that system and will defend it.
Leonard noted that: “Our hope is that in this forum today is that you will lead and serve as catalysts for further discussions on countering disinformation; increasing transparency; solution building; and encouraging media literacy and their contribution to a democracy that is accountable to its people.”
The General Secretary Nigerian Guild of Editors, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, was quoted in the statement to have said: “At the end of the project, we expect to see a pool of Nigerian editors, senior journalists and media managers, who will be galvanized and committed to the highest ethical standard and to take robust actions to “Editors who will be committed to the promotion and protection of the right to independent press, freedom of expression and deepening democratic space; and constantly projecting issue-based governance in defense of the mass of the Nigerian people.”
The Town Halls and editor workshops are supported through a public diplomacy grant from the U.S. Embassy in Abuja to the Nigerian Guild of Editors. In addition to Lagos, the programmes will take place in Kano in January 2022, Yola, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu.
The statement reiterated the commitment of the U.S. government to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria, noting that for years, the U.S. Mission has funded partnerships that promote Nigeria’s democratic governance, unity and stability by improving government transparency and accountability, the rule of law, a free and professional media, as well as civil society capacity and engagement. Webinars, seminars, workshops, and U.S. based training opportunities such as the International Visitor Leadership Programme and Foreign Press Center International Reporting Tours demonstrating US commitment to the proud partnership that she has long enjoyed with Nigeria.