WPFD 2021: Buhari, NASS, SGF congratulate Nigerian media, urge sensitivity to current situation

*The Presidency expresses commitment to freedom of the press with responsibility as an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish

*I celebrate the Nigerian journalists for the invaluable contributions and sacrifices that they have made throughout our national history to nation-building and entrenchment of democracy, says Senate President Ahmed Lawan

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

While reiterating his administration’s commitment to freedom of the press in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked media professionals to be responsible and sensitive to the parlous state of affairs regarding Nigeria’s current situation.

ConsumerConnect reports the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in the year 1993, and every year, it is celebrated on May 3 to commemorate journalists and highlight the difficulties they face while reporting truth to populations worldwide.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement Sunday, May 2, 2021, said President Buhari ahead of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) Monday, May 3 reiterated his administration’s commitment to freedom of the press in the country.

Buhari stated: “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 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 our unity in diversity.”

The statement said the President further pledged greater cooperation with the media to discharge its duties, in line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day: “Information as a Public Good”.

According to him, freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.

The statement noted Buhari said ‘licentious freedom’ is different from freedom with responsibility, charging the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.

“He charges those who manage information for government to do everything in the public interest, while also encouraging the media to use the Freedom of Information Act available to make its jobs easier.

“The President submits 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.”

Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate

Likewise, the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, FCT, has expressed their support for the sustenance of freedom of the press in Nigeria.

Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, who felicitated with the Nigerian journalists on the occasion of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, stated the NASS under his watch would not suppress press freedom.

Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser (Media) to President of the Senate, in a statement Sunday, noted Lawan said 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 stated: “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 enhances the practice of the profession.

“I also celebrate the Nigerian journalists for the invaluable contributions and sacrifices that they have made throughout our national history to nation-building and entrenchment of democracy.

“I pay tribute to the patriots who have lost their lives in the line of duty and pray that their death will not be in vain.”

He explained that “it is in this light that I call on the practitioners to purge their noble profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of the mainstream practitioners.

“The leadership organs of the profession also need to adopt practical measures to check the activities of the purveyors of fake news.”

According to Lawan, “the menace of fake news is capable of eroding the integrity and credibility of the media in general, and this should not be allowed to happen.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, has joined others to celebrate the Nigerian media on the occasion of the 2021 World’s Press Freedom Day.

Mr. Willie Bassey, Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), in a statement said Mustapha also acknowledged the contributions of the Nigerian media in the fight against the damaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The SGF noted that journalists made sacrifices in filing reports day and night, particularly, at the outset of the pandemic in which media briefings were held by the then Presidential Task Force on a daily basis.

Their contributions led to the dissemination of accurate information to the citizenry through jingles, advertorials, and various educational programmes on their platforms, he said.

Mustapha assured media professionals of the continued support of the PSC on COVID-19, while urging them to use their role as purveyors of news to build a strong and united country by adhering to the ethics of the profession through truthful and accurate reporting.

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