President Muhammadu Buhari and the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, have urged the media to express its freedom with responsibility.
While Buhari called for responsible press freedom among media professionals in the country, Lawan urged the media to purge itself of bad eggs, promising that the National Assembly won’t pass anti-press legislations.
Buhari, in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, to mark World Press Freedom Day today, stressed the commitment of his administration to the freedom of the press.
He, however, urged journalists to wield their freedom responsibly and without licentiousness.
According to him, freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum feature of a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.
He said: “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 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.”
Buhari stated that the licentious freedom is different from freedom with responsibility and charged the media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.
The president also 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.’
He charged those who manage government information to do everything in public interest, while also encouraging the media to use the Freedom of Information Act to make its jobs easier.
According to him, it is vital to have access to reliable information in an era of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, all to cause discord in society.
On his part, Lawan called on journalists to purge themselves of bad eggs giving the profession a bad image.
He assured them that the National Assembly would not pass any anti-press freedom bill.
In a message, yesterday to felicitate with the media on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, Lawan, stated that May 3 is set aside every year to remind governments around the world of their obligations to facilitate and respect press freedom, and also to remind journalists of the need to respect the ethics of their profession.
He called on journalists to purge the profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of their colleagues.
He added: “The leadership organs of the profession also need to adopt practical measures to check the activities of the purveyors of fake news. My belief is that 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”.
Lawan expressed happiness that Nigeria has a vibrant media that has always resolutely defended freedom of speech.
He stated that freedom of the press enables journalists to discharge their roles as the watchdog of the society and as the fourth estate of the realm.
He said: “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.”