The federal government claimed yesterday that it does not represent a threat to the media and that it will neither suppress press freedom or deny anyone their constitutionally protected rights.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, stated this during a courtesy visit to his office by the Executives of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute, IPI, in Abuja. He said the administration took a position not to interfere in the affairs of the media since taking office in 2015 and has kept that promise.
According to Mohammed, the Nigerian media has no reason to fear the government, and that the administration is at the mercy of the media.
Nigeria, he claims, is one of the only countries in the world where a segment of the media can refuse to acknowledge popular sovereignty.
“Your visit today continues the pleasant connection that I described previously,” he continued. The objective of the IPI, a global network of editors, media executives, and senior journalists, is to protect media freedom and promote independent journalism wherever they are endangered, according to the organization’s official website.
“I assume that mission statement will guide IPI Nigeria’s actions, as well as the new executives that are here today.”
“I want to be clear: IPI Nigeria has nothing to fear on both fronts – defending media freedom and supporting independent journalism. This is because Nigeria has one of the world’s most lively and free press, else how do you explain a situation in which a President who was lawfully elected by millions of Nigerians is wilfully robbed of that title, President, and then dressed up as a dictator by playing up his military title?
“Despite the violations of journalistic freedom, those who perpetrated them have remained to pursue their profession unhindered.”
“We must also be one of the few countries in the world where a reputable media outlet will post fake news and refuse to withdraw or apologize when called out.”
“That’s why I’m glad serious organizations like the IPI are taking issues like press freedom, ethics, and false news, among other things, extremely seriously,” he told the visitors. ”
While praising media organizations for creating forums to fact-check tales that circulate in the media, the Minister urged the new IPI leadership to take a comprehensive look at the fundamental issues plaguing newsrooms today that are harming press freedom.
Ethics, regulation, sustainability, credibility, and fake news are among the biggest concerns confronting the country at the present, according to him.
“I applaud IPI Nigeria’s President for making such a bold statement, and I hope he and his staff will try to address those concerns.” Is it ethical for a media company to act as an opposition party, seeing nothing positive in the current government and only reporting bad news, for example, on the matter of ethics?
“Last I checked, the media’s constitutionally protected job in Nigeria is that of a watchdog, not an opponent.”
“Also, the problem of fake news must be addressed before the media loses its credibility.” We are all in trouble if people can no longer believe what they read, hear, or see on various media platforms.
“This is why, in 2018, we began a national effort to combat fake news and misinformation,” the minister stated.
“Some people have misunderstood our efforts to ensure appropriate use of social media as an attempt to interfere with press freedom or endanger independent journalism,” he said of social media regulation.
“We have no such plans, which is why we invited stakeholders, including the Nigerian Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, to sit down with us to devise a strategy in this regard.
“As part of our efforts to ensure responsible use of social media, we have negotiated a robust agreement with Twitter, which will be extended to other social media platforms,” says the company. Mohammed stated his opinion.
He also urged IPI Nigeria to follow through on its vow to look into the challenges of fake news, reliability, and ethics, among other things.
This, he believes, is a surefire method to help in the fight against fake news and misinformation.