…Restates Commitment to Ideals of Press Freedom …Stresses Democracy Thrives Better in an Atmosphere of Transparency …Says Purveyors of Fake News Do Not Mean Well For Our Country President Muhammadu Buhari has again hailed the good work Journalists have done, and are still doing, as the nation confronts the unseen enemy called COVID-19, pledging commitment
…Restates Commitment to Ideals of Press Freedom
…Stresses Democracy Thrives Better in an Atmosphere of Transparency
…Says Purveyors of Fake News Do Not Mean Well For Our Country
President Muhammadu Buhari has again hailed the good work Journalists have done, and are still doing, as the nation confronts the unseen enemy called COVID-19, pledging commitment to press freedom. He however slams the resort to fake and hate news, noting that its purveyors do not mean well for the country.
This is coming against the revelation by a press freedom organisation, that 55 media workers across 23 countries have died worldwide from the novel coronavirus in the past two months, lamenting that media workers often lack proper protection for covering the pandemic.
In a statement on the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adeshina, the President says, “We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe. It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively,” the President says.
He applauds the role the Nigerian media have played thus far, and charges that they continue, “till we get to safe harbour, when the world, and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”
Reflecting on the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020, ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,’ President Buhari opines that Nigeria has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.
According to him, “They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause. In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation. When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom. I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”
On the part of government, the President pledges a recommitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.
“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the Coronavirus, and look forward to same, post COVID-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives, “ President Buhari affirms.
WPFD is a day declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of the press as enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dozens of journalists have died worldwide from the novel coronavirus in the past two months, a press freedom organisation said Friday, lamenting that media workers often lack proper protection for covering the pandemic.
The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a Geneva, Switzerland based organisation, warned that many journalists were putting themselves in harm’s way to report on the global crisis, with many falling ill from COVID-19 themselves in the process.
Since March 1, the PEC said it had recorded the deaths of 55 media workers across 23 countries from the virus, although it stressed that it remained unclear if all of them had become infected on the job.
“Journalists are at great risk in this health crisis because they must continue to inform, by going to hospitals, interviewing doctors, nurses, political leaders, specialists, scientists, patients,” PEC said in a statement.
It said that in a range of countries “indispensable protective measures” like physical distancing, quarantines and mask-wearing had not been applied, especially early on in the outbreak.
Ecuador is the hardest-hit country, with at least nine journalists who had succumbed to the virus, followed by the United States, with eight, Brazil with four, and Britain and Spain with three each, it said.
The organisation also echoed warnings from the United Nations that the pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 people out of more than 3.2 million infected worldwide, is being used in some countries as an excuse to crackdown on the media.
“Censorship, internet shutdowns, arbitrary detentions of journalists, physical and verbal attacks and emergency laws that restrict press freedom have occurred in recent weeks,” the PEC said.
It added that this was particularly worrying at a time when access to reliable public information was more vital than ever. “Transparency is paramount and can be life-saving in a health crisis,” the organisation said.