LAGOS – As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the Press Freedom Day, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the authorities to see the media as an ally, not an adversary.
“As Nigeria goes through very grave trials, threatening the very foundation of its existence, it is imperative that all stakeholders forge a synergy to save the ship of state from running aground.
“If there is any time government should see the media as ally in national development rather than adversary, it is now,’’ the guild said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.
The statement, emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was signed by the NGE President, Femi Adesina.
May 3rd is set aside globally to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world and also defend the media.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Media Freedom for a Better Future’’.
The NGE said the day afforded Nigerians the opportunity to reflect on the state of the media in the country.
The statement said:“Without a free press, good governance cannot be guaranteed, the fight against corruption will at best be tepid, our political development will be stunted and sluggish.
“The fundamental rights of the citizenry would be trampled upon with impunity.
“But a free press will accelerate national development and engender the country of our dreams, which yet remains in the realm of envisioning.’’
The NGE, however, acknowledged that the atmosphere in which the Nigerian press was operating was “far better than what it used to be’’.
The editors cautioned:“But it is not yet Uhuru. We still have very serious assaults against journalists and media workers, bordering on infringement of their fundamental human rights, and attempt to stifle and muzzle them.
It recalled that recently an editor was abducted from his home in Lagos, manacled for 12 hours, and driven to another state, where he was slammed with charges of sedition.
“Journalists are still harassed, intimidated, brutalised, and even killed outright. The country is replete with cases of journalists killed in the line of duty in recent years.’’
The NGE, however, regretted that not a single of such cases had been investigated and unravelled by security agencies.
According to the statement, when the media is under assault, it is to the detriment of all.
“With 70 journalists killed worldwide last year, 211 held in various prisons and well over 1,000 killed since 1992, let us use this occasion of World Press Freedom Day to rededicate ourselves as a country to a free press,’’ it added.
The editors pledged to uphold the finest traditions of their calling and to play their roles in national development.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his message, said: “Freedom of expression, independent media and universal access to knowledge will fortify efforts to achieve lasting results for people and the planet.’’ (NAN)