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Group plans curriculum for journalists on freedom of religion in Nigeria

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Last Updated on August 23, 2023 by Fellow Press

Search for Common Ground (SFCG), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) says it is working on plans to develop a curriculum for journalists on promoting freedom of religion and belief in Nigeria.

Mr Ogabiela Daniel, the Project Manager, SFCG, said this at a three-day workshop for development of curriculum on common ground journalism in relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Abuja.

Daniel said the project being supported by the Netherlands Embassy would equip journalists with improved capacities to produce conflict sensitive reporting on inter faith and FoRB related issues.

He said that the curriculum would establish effective Early warning/Early Response and Referral (EWER) mechanisms for addressing FoRB violations in Nigeria.

“The curriculum is going to reduce the insensitive reporting that we are experiencing at the moment,I am very confident of this because of all the inputs the high level media and executives here have done.

“This consciousness will now stay in the sector where everybody will be doing their reporting sensitively bearing in mind that inasmuch as freedom of religion is everybody’s rights, but they will do it responsibly,” he said.

Daniel said the curriculum would help to enhance public understanding of interfaith conflict and have greater access to neutral and conflict-sensitive information related to inter-faith harmony and cohesion.

Interim Country Director, SFCG, Fatima Madaki said that the organisation’s move to develop FoRB curriculum was against the backdrop of the fact that journalists wielded immense influence over public opinion and societal perceptions.

Madaki said it was a responsibility that carried not only the duty to inform but also the profound responsibility to do ethically and sensitively.

She said that the workshops focused on conflict-sensitive reporting within the framework of FoRB acknowledged the complexities that arise when covering issues that could be deeply personal and intertwined with cultural, social and political dynamics.

“We recognise that these issues are not just news stories; they are narratives that shape identities, values and relationships.

“The intersection between FoRB and journalism ca e fraught with challenges; how do we report on matters of faith and belief with sensitivity and respect for the diverse perspectives that exist?

“How can we ensure that our reporting contributes to peaceful coexistence rather than inadvertently fueling division?

“As we engage in these discussions, let us remember that our collective commitment to ethical journalism is a catalyst for positive change,’’she said

Madaki said that understanding the principles of common ground journalism would bridge divides, dispel misinformation and contribute to a world where freedom of religion or belief was celebrated as a cornerstone of diversity and harmony.’

Mr Temisan Etietsola, the National Media Specialist, SFCG,said the organisation decided to develop the curriculum against the backdrop of the numerous religious crisis.

“We found out that when the issues of religious conflicts happens in Nigeria, journalists tend to shy away from reporting it, but we are not proactive enough to report these issues on religious freedom of religious belief.

“So we decided to develop this curriculum, in conjunction with other journalists at the top level who know what they and their colleagues want.

“We then use it to train them on how to report conflict sensitive issues around FoRB and we also feel the need for journalists that are coming up even right from the school to know how to report conflicts around FoRB issues,” he said.

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After 25 years, Nigerians yet to enjoy dividends of democracy — Northern Groups

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Last Updated on June 15, 2024 by Fellow Press

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has called for sober reflection on Nigeria’s democracy and democratisation process as Nigeria marks 2024 Democracy Day and 25 years of unbroken democracy.

The CNG, in a statement by its national coordinator, Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, claimed that democracy as it is being practised in Nigeria has failed to provide its dividends to the people after two and a half decades of its practise.

The pro-northern groups contended that despite the nation’s richness in natural and human resources, Nigerians continue to suffer from abject poverty and economic instability, which were not recorded even during military dictatorships.

It said that it is important to note that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the poverty rate in Nigeria stands at an alarming 63%, with over 133 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty.

“Similarly, the NBS disclosed that unemployment has reached a stunning 33.3% in the country, while youth unemployment is at an unprecedented over 50%, leaving young Nigerians devoid of decent jobs or sustainable means of livelihood.

“In the same vein, before returning to democracy, Nigeria’s inflation was just 10%, while now in a free democratic setting, inflation has risen to an all-time high of 33.69%, depleting people’s purchasing power and weakening their standard of living; whereas interest rate has sharply risen from 6.05% in 1999 to 26.25% in 2024, suggesting tighter monetary policy in the midst of high inflation and economic challenges.

“It is on record that the number of out-of-school children has increased from 7.4 million in 1999 to 18.5 million in 2024, highlighting a severe decline in educational accessibility over the past 25 years of our democratic engagements.

“Disgustingly, job racketeering to the highest bidder, inflating contracts, and kickback collection by political elites and senior civil servants have irrevocably decayed our civil service at all levels, resulting in the destruction of the fabric of Nigeria as a country with a lot of potential,” it said.

The CNG argued that these economic challenges are a direct result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and lack of genuine commitment to the development of the Nigerian economy by those who have sworn by the holy scriptures to promote good governance.

It said that unfortunately, over the years, the Nigerian economy has been bastardized and surrendered to the Bretton Wood institutions of the IMF and World Bank through the removal of subsidies in healthcare, education, energy, etc, adding that consequently, unpatriotic leaders and capitalist-backed technocrats who continued to propagate a free-market economy devoid of government interventions suddenly lose their voices and relevance.

It noted that the minimum wage has drastically decreased in value from the equivalent of $195 in 1981 to only $21.22 today, indicating a substantial erosion of purchasing power and economic hardship for low-income workers.

It also noted that fuel prices have seen a dramatic increase from N20 per liter in 1999 to N701.24 per liter in 2024, reflecting severe inflation and apparent antipeople economic policies from the beneficiaries of democracy since 1999, adding that diesel prices have surged to N1415.06 in 2024, which is significantly higher than in 1999, indicating a steep rise in energy costs.

“It is evident, therefore, that democracy in Nigeria only works for politicians and senior civil servants, while Nigerians continue to languish in poverty and misery.

“Suffice it to say that politicians, senior civil servants, and top defense and security heads have not only cornered the country to serve them but also are deploying their amassed wealth to restrict the dividends of democracy in Nigeria.

“It is regrettable that under democratic dispensation, destitution and pauperization have been deliberately entrenched in Nigeria due to the relegation of our economic planning and strategies to the dictates of capitalist, neoliberal, racist, and imperial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The CNG observed that the exchange rate of our Naira against the US dollar has depreciated drastically from N84.70 in 1999 to N1,479.69 in 2024, pointing to severe devaluation of the currency; public debt has escalated from around N3 trillion in 1999 to N97.34 trillion in 2024, highlighting a significant increase in the country’s borrowing and debt burden.

“Also, prior to our return to democracy in 1999, oil production has decreased from 2.21 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.28 million bpd in 2024, indicating a decline in one of our major source of revenue.

“Tragically, according to the United Nations, over 35,000 have been killed in the North East insurgency under the watchful eyes of the leaders that claim to promote democracy. In the same vein, Global Observatory said about 15,000 have been killed in the North West alone.

“Additionally, millions of people, including women and children, have been rendered internally displaced persons (IDPs). This unprecedented catastrophe has been normalized in Nigeria’s democracy,” it said.

The CNG said it is rather despicable that our democracy in Nigeria has been hijacked by a select few who prioritize their personal gain over the collective good of the nation, noting that corruption is endemic, and accountability is almost non-existent, deeply entrenched in our political system.

“As we observe this Democracy Day, the CNG calls on all Nigerians to reflect on the state of our nation and question the effectiveness of our democratic system. It is evident that democracy, in its current form, has failed to deliver on its promises of development, security, and prosperity for all Nigerians, as only a select few politicians and senior civil servants amass questionable wealth while bequeathing depravity to the masses.

“Therefore, as Nigeria marks 25 years of continuous democratic sojourn, we must engage in a candid reflection to domesticate this democracy or design a system that aligns with our tradition, culture, and history, which is capable of providing security, promoting economic development, and fostering true people’s participation,” it said.

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Naira crashes more against dollar ahead of Eid El-kabir

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Last Updated on June 15, 2024 by Fellow Press

The naira depreciated further against the dollar at the foreign exchange market on Friday ahead of the Eid el-Kabir holidays.

FMDQ data showed that the naira depreciated to N1,482.72 against the dollar on Friday from N1476.24 on Thursday.

This represents an N6.48 depreciation against the dollar compared to the N1,476.24 traded on Thursday.

Meanwhile, at the parallel, the naira traded for N1,490 against the dollar on Friday, the same figure as on Thursday.

Recalls that the naira depreciated marginally against the dollar on Thursday as foreign exchange transaction turnover crashed to $92.68 million.

In the week under review, the naira appreciated twice against the dollar, the same with its depreciation.

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