President Muhammadu Buhari has cautioned media professionals against inciting news reports and commentaries, saying it was important for media houses to take front roles in the task uniting Nigeria and nation building during this challenging times.
He added that it had become imperative for media professionals to wield their constitutional guaranteed freedom responsibly, and without licentiousness, adding such would set needed agenda for lasting peace across the country.
The President noted that Nigeria still has a long way to go in its information sector, particularly the media, saying that though the Nigeria media has been a veritable tool in fostering peace and setting the right agenda, more was needed of the professional considering the rising insecurity challenges in the country.
Through a message to mark the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, observed globally every May 3, Buhari reiterated his administration’s commitment to freedom of the press which he described as an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish, adding that the 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,” Buhari was quoted a saying in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
Continuing, he said, “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.”
He noted that licentious freedom was different from freedom with responsibility, and charges the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.
On the part of government, 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, ‘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 jobs easier.
The President submitted that it was very vital to have access to reliable information in an era of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech, all to cause discord in society.