By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the commitment of his administration to freedom of the press, saying that he would continue to ensure the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the lawful performance of their duties.
He, however, urged the media to guard against the publication of what he described as sponsored political news aimed at inciting hatred, division, violence and chaos in the country as the nation marches towards the general elections.
President Buhari’s admonition was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina on Monday.
“On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, observed every year on May 3, President Muhammadu Buhari rejoices with the Nigerian media, and recognizes their role in strengthening democracy.
“The President salutes the courage and determination of those who daily go the extra time, sometimes at great personal risks, to keep the society well informed.
“In fostering the pursuit of journalism in the country, President Buhari reiterates the Nigerian government’s commitment to freedom of the press, pledging to continue ensuring the protection of the rights and privileges of journalists in the lawful performance of their professional duties.
“He charges the Nigerian Press to use World Press Freedom Day to reflect on the need to embrace the best professional standards and practices, especially in the build-up to the forthcoming general elections.
“He notes that the free performance of media roles and responsibilities during the electoral process is as important as the sanctity and will of Nigerians, expressed through the ballot box.
“With the elections in sight, the President urges the media to be mindful of sponsored political news or publications capable of inciting hatred, division, violence, and chaos in the country, while also ensuring that the electoral umpire and other stakeholders play their roles in delivering free, fair, credible and transparent elections to Nigerians,” the statement read.
It quoted Buhari to have said, ‘We must stay united in supporting media professionals who work hard to de-escalate violent conflict and promote peaceful societies without compromising the responsibility to report,” urging government information managers to ensure that the press and the general public have access to facts and figures of government information, without tears.
In line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, ”Journalism under digital siege,” President Buhari assured that government agencies under his watch will always stand against actions that are capable of limiting the preservation of the freedom of the Press guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the statement noted.
According to the statement, the President said the Federal Government is working hard to support media organizations in Nigeria through provision of better internet access to underserved communities, and achieve 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030.
“On behalf of Nigerians, President Buhari thanked members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm whose diligent work help in guaranteeing peace, stability, and progress in the country,’ it added.