President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday observed that responsible journalism is a means to ensure good governance and democratic principles in the count. He made the observation while declaring the 67th World Congress of International Press Institute (IPI) which the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the dynamics of the information age has shown that responsible journalism will naturally negate the promotion of hate speech including propagation of fake news in any discerning society.
He said: “The changing media landscape, the explosion of the social media and the rapidly evolving new technology have had a profound impact on media business and media practice. It is satisfying, therefore, that you have chosen an appropriate theme for your conference: Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Media for Strong Societies.
“In a world where the borderline between hate speech and free speech has become blurred, good journalism matters. In an environment where fake news dwarfs investigative reporting, Good Journalism Matters. For survival in an increasingly competitive field, Good Journalism Matters. Good journalism promotes Good Governance. I, therefore, urge participants to give depth to the topic in your discussions and conclusions.
The president spoke about the effort of his administration to tackle insecurity in the country, reiterating that Boko Haram has been degraded as it no longer holds any territory in the country. He assured that relative peace in the country made it possible for the IPI congress to take place in Abuja for the first time.
Buhari stated: “Your annual congress is holding in Nigeria during a period of global terrorism. Nigeria experiences that scourge through Boko Haram, which has been technically degraded and has no territorial hold anywhere, anymore, in its northeast operational base. The Internally Displaced Persons are gradually returning to their communities in reasonable safety and security.
“It is a reflection of your assessment of Nigeria as a safe country that you gave the country the hosting right for this conference. As you have seen since your arrival, you made a wise and right choice.” Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, said during the interactive session that state governments are mostly to blame for the spate of insecurity in the country.
Citing recent complaints by the Zamfara State Governor, AbdullAziz Yari about not being in control of security apparatus in his state, the minister argued if state governments complement the federal government’s efforts at delivering good governance, insecurity would have been minimal.
On border control measures, Dambazzau said efforts are on to establish situation room within the Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) headquarters to coordinate border security operations.
In her address, IPI Executive Director, Barbara Triinfi, alerted that independent journalism was under attack as press freedom was eroded around the world. She said: “As we gather here today from different countries to open IPI’s 67th World Congress, there is a sense that independent journalism is under attack and press freedom has eroded all over the world.
“From Mexico to the Philippines, from Zimbabwe to Turkey, from Russia to Ethiopia, journalists are being imprisoned. They are denied access to justice. They are threatened and insulted on social media. They are directly targeted and labeled as traitors and enemies of the state and they are killed, shot in front of their houses, on their way to work, by killers who know that murdering journalists is the easiest way to silence them and ensure that the stories of corruption they were investigating, the wrongdoings they had uncovered will never be revealed.
“At least 43 journalists have been killed so far in 2018 in places like Afghanistan, Mexico, India, Pakistan or the Philippines to mention a few.
“Also here in Nigeria, a country with a very lively news industry which enjoys a good degree of press freedom, safety has been a serious problem for journalists, not only those covering the areas where insurgents are active but also journalists covering corruption have been targeted.”
Four ministers responded to “the Conversation with the Government of Nigeria” on why they think Nigerians should re-elect President Buhari with barely nine months to the election. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said: “Nigeria is well positioned. Nigeria is on the path of sustainable growth, recovery and we have never had it so good.”
The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau said: “Continuity, Nigeria can’t get anybody better than President Buhari.” On his part, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said “Because we have delivered on all our promises. We promised we were going to fight insecurity, we have fought insecurity.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said “The most important thing under the leadership of the President, we have changed the conversation of Nigeria. We are now talking about the importance of security, of fighting corruption and of a good economy.”