Nigerian media, most vibrant in Africa – Minister
By Mohammad Ibrahim
Nigerian media, most vibrant in Africa – MinisterJune 21 (Abuja) Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the government of president Muhammadu Buhari has will not do anything to stifle press freedom, describing the country's media as most vibrant in Africa.
Senior Adviser to the Minister Segun Adeyemi in a statement made available said the minister made the statement while speaking at the 3rd Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation in Beijing, China, on Tuesday.
According to him, the Minister said Nigerian media did not achieve its vibrancy by accident, saying apart from the fact that it derives its powers to function directly from the nation’s Constitution, the Nigerian media has come a long way.
‘’Of course, the Nigerian media is a veteran of the country’s battle of independence, and of the battle to end long years of military rule in the country. Battle hardened over the years and empowered by the Constitution and the relatively new Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, you take on the Nigerian media at your own peril,’’ he said.
Mohammed said unlike in other countries where the media is at the mercy of the government, the reverse is the case in Nigeria where, he said, the government is at the mercy of the media.‘’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 imperiled when the media is in chains. We see the media as a partner in progress, not some enemy to be crushed. But we also expect a high level of responsible journalism, the type that puts the collective interest above individual consideration, the type that safeguards the truth rather than push out rumors as fact,’’ he said.
Noting that power without control is a recipe for disaster, he said it is important for media practitioners, especially those in the Social Media, to self regulate 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 whom 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 democratization of information gathering and dissemination has its advantages…But there must be some form of control. Let me be clear, the Nigerian government has no plans, either in the short or long run, to regulate the media, whether traditional or new. But we will continue to advocate self regulation on the part of all concerned for, ultimately, lack of self control can only lead to self destruction,’’ he said.
The Minister called for continuous capacity building for media practitioners, whether in form of training, exchange of personnel or even by exposing the practitioners to how things are done in other lands, so that they can play their important role more effectively.
He told the Forum, which comprised Ministers and other top government officials, media practitioners and academics from Africa and China, that Nigeria is on course to meeting the June 2017 deadline of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting.