The Federal Government, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has rejected an annual report placing Nigeria as a country not supporting the practice of journalism.
The Minister rubbished the report and recalled how a part of the media has in all ways refused to recognize popular sovereignty and leadership by stripping him of the title ‘President’ and then presenting him as nothing but a dictator.
A part of the Nigerian media has opted to address the President Mohammed Buhari for some reasons.
Mohammed said, “Despite that abuse of press freedom, those doing that have continued to practice their profession without hindrance.”
“Ours must also be one of the few countries in the world where a reputable medium will report fake news and, when called out, will not retract or apologize,” he added.
Mohammed in Abuja recently rejected the 2021 annual World Press Freedom Index, where Nigeria was displayed to the rest of the world as a nation,where journalists are not allowed to do their job.
According to Mohammed, the Nigerian press remains among the most vibrant and freest in the world.
The Minister made this known when he played host to the executive members of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI), who were on a courtesy visit to his office.
Musikilu Mojeed, who is the President of IPI in Nigeria, had during the visit said that the World Press Freedom Index is an example of the country’s low rating in the area of press freedom.
But Mohammed would not stand for it and seriously disagreed with the IPI President and the assessment of press freedom under the present administration.
“I disagree vehemently with the assessment because it is unfounded and has no scientific basis. I have been the Minister (of Information and Culture) since 2015 so I know the state of press freedom in Nigeria,” the Minister said.
Mohammed explained that the current administration is not any way, a threat to journalism but added that government would not allow the use of social media to misconstrue its efforts, adding that it is not about to stifle press freedom or deny anyone his or her constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
The Minister advised the media to always stick to their constitutional watchdog role, and not to constitute themselves into political opposition.
He also charged IPI Nigeria to take seriously the issues of ethics, credibility and fake news, among others, in relation to the practice of journalism in the country.
”For example, on the issue of ethics, is it part of the ethics of journalism for a media organization to function as an opposition party, seeing nothing good in the government of the day and only reporting bad news?” Mohammed queried.