· Insists that there are significant differences between political parties in the country
· NGE President, Adesina, says Guild would miss the outgoing Governor but believes he is leaving Lagos “in very capable hands”.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Friday hosted the Executive and Standing Committees of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) charging the media in the country to always set the right agenda for discussions on national issues as purveyors of what comes out daily as news.
Governor Fashola, who spoke while hosting the Guild Executives led by the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, at the Courtesy Call Room of the State House, Ikeja, also insisted that there is a marked difference between the various political parties that contested the last general elections in the country adding that the difference lay in the understanding of the topical national issues.
Noting that no group could be in a better position to set the agenda for the discussion on national issues than the media, the Governor listed such issues as Corruption, Security and the Economy as very germane to the discussions and the clamour for change in the leadership of the country.
He expressed surprise that throughout the campaigns, some of the things he heard people say were that the parties were not discussing issues adding, “I disagree vehemently and we could debate that for a whole year and I would tell you a hundred and ONE reasons why the parties are different”.
Governor Fashola, who described 2015 as a truly eventful year for Nigerians as a people and as a country said by setting the right agenda for the discussions, the media may in that way douse the tensions that came with elections and keep at bay those who really did not want the discussion to be about issues.
The Governor, who expressed delight that the nation, which, according to him, was “almost at the precipice, seemed to have turned back from the brink in spite of the odds and of the threats”, added, however, that those threats and odds made it unsafe for the children to witness the exercise life.
Arguing that the children were supposed to accompany their parents to the polling stations to witness the exercise, Governor Fashola declared, “If the issue is about the future why couldn’t they come to the Town Hall Meetings? Why couldn’t we have school children on excursion beginning to GET involved? How many parents would have allowed their children to come given the atmosphere that we created?”
According to the Governor, “There would be no nation without conflicts and without disagreement but I think that in all that has happened, ONE thing was missing in this elections. We did not see our children there. And the question I have continued to ask myself is, if this is about the future why couldn’t our children come to the campaigns?”
“And we are saying this is about tomorrow. Who has a bigger stake in tomorrow? It cannot be us. It is those who are younger than us who are”, he stressed adding “I hope that it will never happen again”.
Urging the Media to raise the bar of political discussions, the Governor cited the example of the approaching British elections where all the parties have released their manifestoes and the main issue before the British public is about who has the best plan to reduce the deficit which is in the economy of the nation.
He said the debate was about whether the current generation would pay “in which case they have to pay more taxes” or should the NEXT generation pay “in which case the country has to borrow”.
“These are the issues in that election and the collateral issue is about their role in Europe and what position they would take. So we must put these issues in perspective so that nobody can set the agenda for discussion better than you the editors because you decide what goes on the news”, he said.
The Governor, who urged the editors to reflect on the pressing national issues at their Convention, also expressed the hope that it would manifest itself even in the forthcoming elections of the Guild of Editors adding, “You know better than us what the issues in the Guild are. We expect that you would tackle the candidates who are seeking to lead and see who best represents the articulator of what the issues are”.
Wishing the Editors “the very best” as they go into the year’s Convention which is also an elective ONE, the Governor, who said it was a pleasure to always have the Editors gather in Lagos declared, “I expect that the will of the majority will prevail. I don’t anticipate that there would be any factions”.
“I sincerely do not wish to have factions because it always confound some of us when associations have disputed elections and we just don’t understand how once results are announced and instead of acknowledging in a judgmental way who won, you now say there are factions and you begin to talk to the TWO of them”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the President of the Guild of Editors, Mr. Femi Adesina, commended the Lagos State Governor for his uncommon regenerational strides in the last eight years, saying he has done extremely well.
Adesina, who said the Guild MEMBERS were in Lagos because the State was hosting the 2015 Biennial Convention, recalled that in all such events hosted by Lagos, the Governor has always been PRESENT or sent “very worthy representatives”, adding that although the Guild would miss him, the body believed that the outgoing Governor was leaving Lagos “in very capable hands”.
The Governor was JOINED to receive MEMBERS of the Guild by some MEMBERS of the State Executive Council including Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze and his Transportation counterpart, Mr. Kayode Opeifa as well as Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Raji and his Media counterpart, Mr. Hakeem Bello and the Senior Special Assistant on Speech to the Governor, Mr. Tarfa Tilley-Gyado.
Other MEMBERS of the Executive and Standing Committees of the Nigerian Guild of Editors that accompanied Mr. Adesina included Hajia Aishat Sule, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Mr. Victor Agusiogo and Mr. Isaac Ighure, Mr. Kenneth Ugbechie, Mr. Ray Echebiri and Ms. Funke Egbemode among others.