By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, May 2, 2022 President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja charged media professionals to be mindful of sponsored, inciting publications capable of inciting hatred, division, violence, and chaos.
The president made the call in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina.
Buhari said the admonition became necessary as the 2023 general elections approached.
He spoke to herald the 2023 World Press Freedom Day. The Day is observed every year on May 3.
The president also challenged the media to ensure that INEC and other stakeholders played their roles in delivering free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2023.
“We must stay united in supporting media professionals who work hard to de-escalate violent conflicts and to promote a peaceful society without compromising the responsibility to report,’’ Adesina quoted Buhari as saying.
He urged government information managers to ensure that the media and the general public had access to facts and figures about government information, without tears.
Buhari assured that in line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, government’s agencies would stand against actions capable of limiting the freedom of the media as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
The theme for the 2023 World Press Freedom Day is: “Journalism under digital siege’’.
According to the president, the Federal Government is working hard to support media organisations through the provision of better internet access to underserved communities, and achieve 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030.
He saluted “the courage and determination of those who daily go the extra mile, sometimes at great personal risks, to keep the society well informed’’.
Buhari reiterated his administration’s commitment to freedom of the press, pledging to continue ensuring the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the lawful discharge of their duties.
He charged the Nigerian media to use the World Press Freedom Day to reflect on the need to embrace best professional standards and practices, especially in the build-up to the 2923 general elections.
According to him, the free execution of media roles and responsibilities in the electoral process is as important as the sanctity and will of Nigerians, expressed through the ballot box.
He rejoiced with the Nigerian media and recognised their role in strengthening democracy.
“On behalf of Nigerians, President Buhari thanks members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm whose diligent work help in guaranteeing peace, stability, and progress in the country,’’ Adesina stated.