President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to continue to support the freedom of the press, but urges media professionals to wield freedom responsibly, without excess.
The President in his message ahead of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day celebration on Monday noted that freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.
“That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness, particularly in a polity seriously challenged as ours now”
“The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided.
The President in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage incendiary words and actions that could further hurt the nation’s unity in diversity”.
Excess freedom, the President says, is different from freedom with responsibility, and charged the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.
President Buhari pledged greater cooperation with the media to discharge its duties, in line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day which is “Information as a Public Good”.
He charged those who manage information for government to do everything in public interest, while also encouraging the media to use the Freedom of Information Act available to make its job easier.
The President explained that it is very vital to have access to reliable information in an era of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech, all to cause discord in society.
In a related development, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, felicitates with Nigerian journalists as they celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Lawan notes that May 3 is set aside every year to remind governments around the world of their obligation to facilitate and respect press freedom, and also to remind journalists of the need to respect the ethics of their profession.
The Senate President is proud that Nigeria has a vibrant media that has always resolutely defended freedom of speech.
Lawan remarks further that freedom of the press enables journalists to effectively discharge their roles as the watchdog of the society and fourth estate of the realm.
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media Ola Awoniyi says, the Senate President recognises the invaluable contributions and sacrifices
made by journalists throughout the country’s national history to nation-building and entrenchment of democracy.
He assures that the Ninth Senate and the National Assembly in general will never pass any law that inhibits the freedom of the press but rather work with the media to further enhance the practice of the profession.
Lawan calls on media practitioners to purge their noble profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of the mainstream practitioners.
He wants the leadership organs of the profession to adopt practical measures to check the activities of the purveyors of fake news which he says is capable of eroding the integrity and credibility of the media in general.
While wishing the media a happy celebration, Lawan pays tribute to the patriots who have lost their lives in the line of duty and prays that their death will not be in vain.