ICA Calls For Greater Attention To Human Rights, Justice, Environment In Nigeria

Scholars, researchers and practitioners of communication in Nigeria have been urged to accord more recognition to, and apply their research works in furtherance of human rights and justice in the country.

The International Communication Association (ICA) Nigeria Chapter made the call at the end of its regional hub of the ICA 74th annual conference which held in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

Promoting responsible use of social media which it described as proactive, rather than emphasis on social media regulation that ends up infringing the citizens’ rights to freedom of expression was also part of their recommendations.

The association also called on government to provide clear and actionable steps that individuals and communities can take to adress environmental issues while also emphasizing empowerment through the provision of necessary knowledge and tools.

As part of efforts to counter the threats to democracy and human rights, the ICA said there must be a deliberate development of a body of evidence, awareness creation as well as a capacity building and strengthening of citizens and media professionals in areas of child’s rights, visual campaigns and art forms, artificial intelligence, development communication, environmental communication and collaborations across the African continent.

The International Communication Association (ICA) held her 74th  Annual Conference on the theme: “Communication and Global Human Rights” from June 20 – 24, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. In conjunction with ICA’s 2024 hybrid conference, regional hubs were held in nine cities across the world including Calabar and Kaduna, Nigeria – were for viewing and participating in this year’s five-day conference. The Calabar Regional Hub was hosted at the Mini Theatre of Department of Mass Communication, University of Calabar.

The theme of the Calabar hub opening event was Communication and Human Rights in Nigeria. Participating at the opening formalities of the conference hub were Professor Aniefiok Udoudo (ICA Nigeria Advisory Board Chair), Dr Lawrence Ekwok (Host and Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Calabar), Prof. Jacob U. Agba (Dean, Faculty of Communication Technology, University of Cross River State), Dr John I. Ukam (Co-Host and Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Cross River State). Also participating were Dr. Presly Obukoadata (Lecturer, University of Calabar), Dr Edang Yolanda Ekpo-Bassey (Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Cross River State), and Ekaete George (Hub Organizer and Chair of ICA Nigeria Chapter). The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Obo Effanga (Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Bayelsa State). Lead Presentations were made  by  Ms  Betty Abah  (Executive  Director  CEEHOPE)  and  Dr  Njah  Bassey  (Lecturer, University of Cross River State), and special guest speaker Prof. Noshir Contractor (the immediate past president of ICA).

In his keynote titled: Effective Communication in the Pursuit of Human Rights in Nigeria, the speaker, Mr. Effanga stated that communication is at the centre of the propagation of human rights. He further reiterated that through communication, the society can be informed about what amounts to human rights, when such rights have been breached, by whom, when, how, and what needs to be done for remedy.

A highlight of the opening ceremony was the ICA Nigeria Chapter 6th Quarterly Seminar Series (QSS) themed Communication and Human Rights: Matters Arising. Dr. Njah Bassey who gave the lead paper presentation on the theme, emphasized the need for nations pay serious attention to the media to effectively promote and propagate their citizen’s fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). On her part, the second speaker of the QSS, Ms. Betty Abah stressed on the relationship between advocacy for human rights and communication in speaking truth to power, mobilizing citizens to make social change, preventing human rights abuses, and seeking redress for the abused.

In addition to joining numerous livestream sessions from Gold Coast, Australia as well as other regional hubs across the world, seven panel sessions were held where scholars and professionals presented research papers on various sub-themes of the conference.

Accordingly, the panel on “Development Communication in the Age of AI: Frontiers for Media Studies in West Africa”, featured Dr Theodora Dame Adjin-Tettey of the Durban University of Technology, South Africa, Dr Godswill John of the University of Cross River State, Ekemini Okure of the University of Port Harcourt, as well as Ekaete George of the University of Port Harcourt.

Similarly, the panel on “Infractions on Social Media: Revisiting the Social Media Regulation Debate” featured Dr Emmanuel Inyang of the University of Cross River State, Dr Mercy Tartsea- Anshase of Bingham University, Karu, and Mrs. Mopelola Oke of the University of Port Harcourt, while the panel on “Visual communication: A Collective Narrative on Human Rights in Nigeria” featured Ike Jonah Godspower of Ignatius Ajuru University, Port Harcourt, Onyemachi Nwabueze of the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Kasi Jockel-Ojike of the Federal College of Education (Technology), Omoku, Comfort Anyia of the University of Port Harcourt, and Ashley A. Stewart of the University of Port Harcourt.

The panel on “Communication and Human Rights in Africa” featured Dr Desmond Onyemachi Okocha of Bingham University, Dr. Ngozi Comfort Omojunikanbi of the University of Port Harcourt, and Emmanuel Maduneme of the University of Oregon. Dr Finsensius Yuli Purnama of Katolik  Widya  Mandala  Surabaya,  Indonesia,  Dr.  Progress  Umor-Daniel  of  Ignatius Ajuru University, Comfort Anyia, and Ashley Stewart also made presentations in the panel on the topic: “Art, Storytelling and Visual Communication in Human Rights Campaigns”.

The Kaduna Hub panel on “Environment and Climate Justice Communication: Bridging the Gap in Public Understanding” featured Prof. Barigbon Nsereka of the Rivers State University, Dr.  Mina  Ogbanga  of  the  Rivers  State  University,  Odoh Okenyodo  of  the  Nasarawa  State University, and Dr. Bassey Ibiang Okon of the Institute of Technology, Kaduna. The ICA24 Calabar Hub which was attended by over one hundred participants from universities, the media and communication industry across Nigeria, ended  on Monday June 24, 2024 as the global event ended at Gold Coast, Australia. The ICA25 75th Annual Conference was announced to hold in Denver, Colorado, USA from June 12-16, 2025, with the theme: Disrupting and Consolidating Communication Research. The first ever ICA conference in Africa has also been announced to be the #ICA26, 76th Annual Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. ICA Nigeria Chapter welcomes all to join them as they engage after next year and prepare to welcome the global community to Africa in 2026.

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