Mr. Muhammed Bago, the Governor of Niger State, has urged the Nigerian media to prioritize the coverage of climate change issues.
He made this appeal during the opening ceremony of the 2023 retreat of the House of Representatives Press Corps in Minna, the capital of Niger State. The retreat focused on the theme ‘The Role of the Media in Incorporating Climate Change Policies’.
The Governor expressed concern that the media does not give enough attention to the disasters caused by climate change. He emphasized the importance of equipping journalists with the necessary skills and tools to effectively incorporate climate change concerns into their reporting.
“This retreat could not have come at a better time since it precedes the first Green Economy Summit in Nigeria to be hosted by Niger State in a few days’ time. The theme of the retreat is indeed very germane to the intent of the Summit because whatever we discussed and whatever resolutions arrived at, if the media does not convey to the public, the essence would have been defeated.
“This can enable you to set an agenda for the Legislature and indeed the Executive. I hope that at the end of this retreat, you will all be better positioned to inform, educate and enlighten the society on the implications of climate change.
“Do not concentrate on reporting politics alone but also pay due attention to climate change because it directly affects human welfare and condition of living”, he said.
The Deputy Governor, Comrade Yakubu Garba, representing Governor Bago, reassured the participants that the administration is giving top priority to climate change. Their focus is on mitigating both natural and manmade disasters through public awareness campaigns. These campaigns aim to educate people about preventive measures that can save lives and minimize damage to property and infrastructure.
“As a former legislator, who spent 12 years in the National Assembly and precisely the House of Representatives, I had a fruitful relationship with the media because its criticisms kept me on my toes and helped spur me to do more for my constituents and the nation.
“Let me state without equivocation that I am not averse to objective media criticisms because they helped in bringing out the best in me”, he said.
The Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change in Niger State, Yakubu Mohammead Kolo, expressed his concern about the alarming level of climate change, stating that it is one of the biggest challenges faced by nations worldwide, including Nigeria. He acknowledged the important role of the media as key stakeholders in efforts to improve the environment. He believed that the retreat would contribute to raising awareness about the dangers of climate change on a global scale.
Likewise, Binta Mammam, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, commended the media for their commitment to attending the event in Minna, despite negative narratives circulating.
According to Comrade Grace Ike, the Chairperson of the House of Representatives press corps, the governor’s decision to hold the Green Economy Summit in the state demonstrates his familiarity with current developmental matters.
She emphasized that it is the duty of journalists, particularly parliamentary reporters, to effectively convey climate policies to the public and communicate the public’s feedback to the government. This way, both the government and the people can have a mutual understanding of the government’s diverse climate change policies.
“The Niger State Green Economy Summit, which is scheduled to hold next week, is here. While other states are lamenting about the effects of climate change, our dear governor is taking laudable steps to effectively position Niger State with the Green Economy initiative. More grease to your elbow, our dear governor. Your innovative ideas in the area of economy and security have caught our attention”, Comrade Ike said.
She urged the participants to utilize the opportunity presented by the training.
While presenting his Keynote address, the Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Prof. Abubakar Muhammed, also commended the media for the interest in mainstreaming the Climate Change agenda.
There were paper presentations on ” The Media, the Parliament and Climate Change by Hon Sam Onuigbo, Effective Reporting of Green Economy; the Prospects and Challenges by Dr. Uche Anunne and Reporting the Parliament in a Digital Era, by Mr. Mboho Eno