FG will not stifle press freedom – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has reassured that the Federal Government would not do anything to stifle press freedom.
The minister gave the assurance on Tuesday at the Third Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation in Beijing, China.
In a statement issued on the event by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Special Adviser to the Minister, Mohammed described the Nigerian media as one of the most vibrant in Africa and indeed across the world.
In the statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the minister noted that Nigerian media has come a long way.
“On our part as Government, we do not intend to do anything to stifle press freedom. Media practitioners have nothing to fear from us.
“Of course, as I hinted earlier, we are the ones who have much to fear from the media practitioners.
“As a government, we believe that democracy itself is imperilled when the media is in chains. We see the media as a partner in progress, not some enemy to be crushed’’.
However, the minister, according to the statement, said that government expected a high level of responsible journalism from the practitioners.
He said that journalists were expected to put the collective interest above individual consideration and safeguard the truth rather than push out rumours as facts.
The minister specifically stressed the need for media practitioners, especially those in the social media, to self regulate themselves in order to remain credible and viable.
“Putting the awesome power of the media in the hands of not just professional journalists but citizen journalists, many of who neither subscribe to any code of ethics nor respect the laws of the land, could be catastrophic.
“Little wonder then that rumours have donned the garb of the truth and reputations long built and nurtured are being rubbished under the guise of the social media.
“Make no mistake about it, the democratisation of information gathering and dissemination has its advantage, but there must be some form of control,’’ he said.
Mohammed, however, reiterated that the government had no plans, either in the short or long run, to regulate the media, whether traditional or new.
He called for continuous capacity building for media practitioners so that they can play their important role more effectively.
He also challenged African journalists to change the negative narrative about their continent.
The minister also assured that the country was on course to meeting the June 2017 deadline of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting.
“This past April, we successfully set the ball rolling by launching the pilot phase of the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting in the city of Jos.
“We are now in the process of expanding this to other parts of our vast country.
“We will succeed, because there is no shortage of political will on the part of the government, or of unalloyed support and dedication on the part of other stakeholders, to make it happen,’’ he said.
The forum, according to the statement, was attended by ministers and other top government officials, media practitioners and academics from Africa and China. (NAN)


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