President Bola Tinubu has assured the Nigeria Guild of Editors of the commitment of his administration to ensure free and robust media in the country.
Tinubu who gave the assurance on Wednesday, while declaring open the 2023 Nigeria Guild of Editors conference themed: ‘Stimulating Economic Growth, Technology: Role of the Media’, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, said his administration has no intention to stifle the press.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, urged the Editors to tackle the issue of fake news and misinformation through fact-checking, responsible reporting and digital literacy while tasking them to operate within the framework of the ethics of journalism with utmost sense of duty and patriotism.
While regretting that Nigeria is bedevilled with issues of misinformation and false narratives, which he said had threatened the fabric of the society, Tinubu stated that it required a collective effort to fight the menace.
“Let me restate the commitment of our administration to a free and robust media without any intention to stifle press freedom.
“But we will expect you to operate within the framework of the ethics of journalism and to conduct your activities with the utmost sense of duty, patriotism and growth.
“As you are aware, we are faced with the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation and false narratives which threaten the fabric of our society, and it is our collective duty to combat this menace. Through fact-fact checking, responsible reporting, promoting media and digital literacy, we can fortify our defences against the corrosive effects of fake news,” the President said.
He however announced that the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation is working to ensure the implementation of a sustained mass reorientation campaign that would foster unity and patriotism among Nigerians.
Also speaking during the event, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, applauded the media for its role in working to ensure justice, equity and unity in Nigeria as well as economic development.
Eno who stated that he was not asking for a pliant press, urged the media to engender a new template of reportage which would be development oriented.
“No one desires a pliant media that acts like the cheerleaders to the government, but in trying to break the news, we should be careful not to break the fabric of the society. You need the nation first to freely practice your profession.
“If there is the constant drib-drib of negative reportage, where the challenges of the process of our nation-building are overly magnified and our symbols of authority, randomly demonized and our potentials routinely talked down on, despite how large such a market may be, foreign investors will be wary of coming into such a volatile environment,” Eno said.
Similarly, the President of NGE, Eze Anaba in his welcome address, said the conference was part of Editors’ contributions to the growth and development of not only the media industry but the country in general.
Anaba charged colleagues on balanced, accurate, factual and fair reports, while also imploring them to make use of fact-checking tools in disseminating editorial products to the people, noting that it is the only effective and efficient way to discharge their constitutional duty under Section 22 of holding power to account and upholding human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democratic principles.
The NGE President however urged political actors not to suppress the press saying, “Always remember that a free press is like oxygen to a democracy. Let nothing be done to stifle the press or shrink freedom of expression and media freedom under any guise.”