Freedom, insecurity, constitutional reform dominate talks at GOCOP 2019 conference

No country can survive without democratic freedom because the task of nation-building is a collective responsibility. This assertion was made by Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah, a Catholic Bishop, during the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) annual conference held recently in Lagos. The 2019 conference themed: “Economy, Security, and National Development: The Way Forward” was also graced by attended by other dignitaries, including the Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson and former Director of State Service (DSS), Barrister Mike Ejiofor among others.

Dr Kukah, while pointing out that Nigeria has about 50 legal online publications empasised the need for consistency and collective action in nation-building.

“There are lots of efforts but things are not working as the citizens are collectively greedy. The real challenge is how to organise and hold a society. The task of nation-building is a collective responsibility.

“So many initiatives have been made ever since the nation’s independence but the major problem is consistency. The choices we made are the reasons for poverty. Our choices clearly suggest that if we unite, there will be positivity. Condemning the administration is not the best except we change things with our rightful thinking,” he said.

Also speaking as the chief guest of honour, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson called for constitutional reform and energetic media in the country. He highlighted citizens’ freedom of expression and association as part of democracy, but also called for restraints in exercising such freedom.

“We need fundamental constitutional reforms that will guarantee stability and create the space for prosperous Nigeria. You can’t have a good democracy without a vibrant media.

“Issues are raised out of contents and sometimes can be irritating for those administering political offices. The involvement of social media is highly needed. There is a higher value that makes a nation a nation. Individual needs must be expressed i.e. freedom of expression and freedom of association. Meanwhile, restraint is the price everyone has to pay,” Governor Dickson said.

On his part, former Director of State Service (DSS), Barrister Mike Ejiofor believes lack of responsible leadership is a major problem that leads to insecurity. Citing bad governance as the root cause of insecurity and other crime-related cases, he opined that there would be no tangible development without security in the country.

“For any nation, security is like building the foundation of a house. If the foundation is faulty the house cannot stand. There is lack of confidence in our security agencies which makes citizens to resort to self help. Security can never be taken in isolation as there is so much poverty in the land which leads to insecurity,” he said.

Proffering solution to the nation’s insecurity, Barrister Ejiofor said: “As we all know, it is our collective responsibility to make Nigeria work. More importantly, leaders should provide good infrastructure which will promote security in the nation; because without security, no national economy can survive.”

On fake news which is perceived as the bane of online publishing, he said: “The greatest challenge of online publishers is fake news. If the practitioners are not controlled by a regulatory body, there is always tendency for citizen journalism.”


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