Media Role in Policymaking Cannot be underestimated-Expert
By Zainab Tanimu
Kaduna, North-West, NIGERIA
The central role of the media in policy making cannot be undermined.
This was the central focus of the presentation delivered by the Media Engagement Manager, International Food policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Washington DC, Drew Sample in his paper titled, “Journalism as Integral to Policymaking”, at the on-going Policy Communication Master Class for Journalists organized by International Food policy Research Institute in Abuja.
The Media Expert has described the media as a veritable tool in driving in development. It’s effective means of projecting information and ideas to the larger society he said cannot be underestimated.
In his bid to further illuminate on how these special roles are being played had captured on the following.
The media is an agenda setter.
The society is influenced by the media in so many ways. The media helps the people to get information about a lot of things and also to form opinion and make judgment regarding various issues.
The media is a conduit to listen to and communicate with their governmental officials; inform, praise and criticize them.
The media being the mirror of the society have helped to push to the front burner’ of newspapers, television, radio and social media issues of paramount importance for public discuss.
Among other examples cited were the issues of ‘jumbo’ pay of serving senators which generated a lot of public reactions.
Also is, the Obasanjo’s call for third term in office which never saw the light of the day.
Such push the Manager, IFPRI Washington DC maintained could trigger policy makers into setting up machineries that could bring succor to the people as well as fasten development.
He however lamented the trending practices whereby political and less relevant issues take the center stage of most front pages of newspapers instead of issues related to the well-being of the common man.
Drew Sample charged journalists to focus more on developmental issues as that would impact more on the lives of the people.
Poverty he stressed is an issue across the country and that Agriculture and food issues are what IFPRI are focusing on. The media he advised should engage more in human related issues.
“Agriculture and development is a great component in Nigeria development. Agriculture provides 20-25% of Nigeria GDP. Agriculture has a great impact on Nigeria economy.
According to findings, the Undernourished children statics is at 7.9%
Stunted- 32.9% and Obesity among women +20%”.
He called for concern to be directed to such arrears by relevant authorities.
Drew enjoined journalists to strive in playing unbiased role by making people to know what things are and where next they are going.
Though, however, Benard Cohen, US Political Scientist is quoted to have seen the media to, “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what they think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its reader s what to think about”
The stages of policy making aside the agenda setting he had explained to include the following.
Implementation stage. From policy to action.
The evaluation stage. This is where the question, how well has the policy been implemented comes in.
Adoption stage takes cognizance of policies adopted (government or institutions) with a view to taking note of what was on ground, challenges and how far it has worked for the people.
Evaluation and Feedback stage. This has to do with evaluation and feedback from the people to whom such policies were meant for and this aspect is considered very important because through this, one is able to determine how successful such policies have been.
Earlier in his opening remark, the Head of IFPRI Nigeria Office and Leader of IFPRI’s Nigeria Strategic Support Program, Dr. George Mavrotas gave a rundown of IFPRI’s activities and how it has through its Abuja office contributed in sharpening the Nigerian Agricultural sector.
“The IFPRI office in Abuja has been instrumental in supporting various important policy initiatives in the Nigerian agricultural sector by the federal government of Nigeria which includes among others the launch of the Agriculture Promotion of policy making: with its agriculture transformation agenda in June, 2016.
We have been instrumental in supporting the government regarding the launch of the new gender policy initiative and the Nutrition Strategy in Agriculture in September, 2016. Also the launch of Food Security and Nutrition Strategy in May, 2017.
Explaining further, he said, “ since its inception in 2007, the Nigeria Strategy Support Program (NSSP) Abuja Office of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have been working closely with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and supports the implementation of Nigeria’s national development plans by strengthening agricultural- sector policies and strategies through: Enhanced knowledge, information, data, and tools for the analysis, design, and implementation of pro-poor, gender-sensitive, and environmentally sustainable agricultural and rural development polices and strategies in Nigeria”.
“Also, it is fair to agree that Nigeria is moving to the right direction about the need to address effectively the key challenges associated with the Nigeria agricultural sector, in how to feed its people, providing employment, food security and poverty reduction in the country”. He added.
Dr. George stressing the importance of the media in achieving the needed transformation in the agricultural sector has called on journalists to
help in strengthening the awareness campaign which he said is the reason for organizing the policy Communication Master Class.
“It is against this background that this foray is very confident that this particular policy communication course would help develop journalists and provide you with the right tools to help spread public awareness in moving towards smooth and successful transformation for the Nigeria agriculture sector”.