Sokoto State was the host as the 4th Africa Media Barometer in Nigeria organized by the Fesmedia Africa Project based in Namibia and FES Nigeria. The gathering of experts started on the evening of 16 June 2019 with an overview of development across the media in the past four years. The following two days built upon those overviews focused on evaluating what the situation is through several indicators already prepared as standard for the AMB across the continent in a bid to strengthen participatory democracy across the continent.
The last AMB in Nigeria was in 2015, in Enugu State, few months after incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, was elected for his first term. And just a few months after he was declared the winner of the 2019 general election for his second term in office, the workshop for the 4th AMB Nigeria was held. From the various discussion sessions, it became clear that there have been various developments in the countries’ media waiting to be captured and digested by the AMB 2019.
The panellists, carefully selected with sensitivity to gender balance and on-ground experience, engaged in a deep conversation regarding the Nigerian media in the past 4 years. The panellists were academics, journalists, lawyers, media experts, as well as representants of civil society organizations, commercial media houses, community radios and disability groups. They participated actively within each reviewing round that followed some guiding questions which were scored at the end of review for each of the questions. This scoring was able to determine if there has been progress or not for each of the indicators from the previous AMB in 2015. While some indicators went up in ranking, others nosedived.
Conversations covered several areas of the media in Nigeria including ownership of media, freedom of expression, licensing of media houses, regulation of the broadcast media, gender sensitivity in the media and media reportage, transparency and independence of broadcast media as well as the level of professional standards. Some concerns about the seeming domination of ownership of media outfits by politicians were raised.
It was a truly robust and deeply engaging three days under the high temperatures in the Caliphate of Sokoto. The formal report of this AMB is expected to be out later in the year as we all now look forward to the next AMB in Nigeria which should be in the next four years.