Ikeja- Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Friday urged editors in the country to set agenda for political discussions that would guide future election campaigns.
Fashola, while receiving executive members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in his Alausa office, said future elections would be more peaceful and free of tension, if they are actually focused on national burning issues.
The governor said that with issues-oriented campaigns and elections, even children would freely participate in future election campaigns and town hall meetings.
Reminiscing on the last general elections, Fashola said year 2014 and the last few months were quite eventful for the country, given the election threats and tension that engulfed the whole country.
According to Fashola, “Though, there is no nation without conflicts, but I think in all that has happened, one thing was missing in this election; we didn’t see our children there.
“One question I’ve continued to ask myself is that if this is about the future, why do our children not come to the campaigns or the town hall meetings?
“Why don’t we have sessions where school children on excursion begin to get involved? How many parents can allow the children to come, given the atmosphere that we’ve created? Yet, we say this is about tomorrow.
“This is one of the issues we all must reflect on, and I hope that it will manifest itself even in your relations.
“You (editors) know better than all of us what the issues are. And we expect that you will tackle, as well as confine the candidates who are seeking to lead and see who best articulates the issues,” he said.
The governor said that he disagreed with popular school of thought that argued during the election that there was no difference among the contending parties.
“I disagree with that and vehemently so. I can argue for a whole year and give you 101 reasons why the parties are different.
“I hear some people say that ‘nobody is talking about issues’. But security was an issue, corruption, economy were all issues. What do we want to talk about again, if those ones are not issues?
“So, we need to raise the bar in political discussion in order to douse the tension, which has been about people who really don’t want political discussions to be about issues.
“The British election is coming and all the parties have released their manifestos. So, the public are now looking at who has the best plans to reduce the debt because the issue in that election is economic.
“We must also begin to put issues forward and nobody can set the agenda for discussion better than you (editors) because you decide what goes into the news,” he said.
The President of the Guild, Mr Femi Adesina, earlier said that the 14-man Executive Committee team had come on a courtesy visit ahead of their Biennial Convention, which begins today in Lagos.
Adesina said that three of such conventions had held in Lagos in the last six years, “which confirms the State government’s affinity with the press.”
He appreciated Fashola’s contributions to the state and said that he would be sorely missed.
The NGE president said that Fashola had always been with the Guild at its conventions, either in person or represented, and thanked him for his support.(NAN)