Information has been described as a “valuable commodity” and a whole lot could go wrong when people do not have access to the right one, particularly about the economy.
Besides, given the role of the media in the socio-economic development of any society, knowledge-based information has become imperative in relation to banking industry developments to sustain financial system stability.
The Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adebayo Adelabu, made the observations at the maiden Financial Journalists’ and Banks’ Image Makers’ forum, organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism Nigeria.
According to him, while financial journalists are daily prying into the activities of the banks with a view to digging out any information, which they consider to be of public interest, it is obvious that the corporate affairs managers of banks will do everything to shield the banks from such intrusion.
He noted that journalists, expectedly, are agenda setters, but added that while in their line of duties, they should also remember the dictum: “The pen is mightier than the sword”.
“Indeed, in carrying out its function, it can influence economic development for good. Conversely, it can ruin an economy if the one wielding the pen chooses to prime and frame negative stories to suit the convenience of a few to the detriment of the majority.
“Similarly, spokespersons of banks are expected to be transparent and ensure understanding of policies, in the case of the Central Bank and products, in the case of deposit money banks. And whether in the CBN or the DMBs, their role is to promote the corporate brand and raise visibility.
“Journalists should strive to become subject matter experts, acquiring full understanding of the issues relating to banks. They should also endeavour to crosscheck facts and information with the respective banks.
“We should adopt the positive and nationalist reportage approach, rather than the ‘publish and be damned’ approach which is more suited for political and social reporting.
“There are challenges, no doubt, but it would be better if you offer solutions to whatever national challenges might be there rather than pull down an entire system. We might be in different professions, but we have a common goal of safeguarding our economy and checking economic exploitation,” he said.
Noting that the global financial system, which in recent times, has witnessed series of shocks has also raised several major stability issues that stare Nigeria in the face.
“Specifically, there has been a significant drop in the price of crude oil, which constitutes the largest component of our forex reserves. There has also been a global growth slowdown and geopolitical tensions along critical trading routes in the world,” he said.
He affirmed that CBN has taken proactive steps to check further depletion of the reserves between 2014 and now, through policy action to check rent-seeking among operators of Bureaux de Change (BDCs), unauthorized financial transactions and the “dollarising” of the economy.