Senate President Ahmad Lawan yesterday congratulated journalists as they joined their colleagues all over the world to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, noted that the day was specially set aside to highlight the heroic contributions of journalists to human struggle for justice, peace and development.
The Senate President said Nigerian journalists in particular should be proud of the frontline roles they play in nation-building and entrenchment of democracy in the country.
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has urged the media to rise above fake news, as no nation can survive in an atmosphere of fake and unsubstantiated news.
The Speaker, in a statement to mark the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), said journalists must be more factual about their reportage of activities, to promote development.
In the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker hailed the doggedness of the media in reporting and helping in finding solutions to the challenges facing the country over the years.
He stressed that although the media has contributed a lot in stabilising the country, it would not be out of place to advise it to rise to the challenge of fake news, especially as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said journalists must resist every temptation that would make them promote reportage that is anti-people.
Speaking about this year’s theme for the World Press Freedom Day, which is ‘Journalism Without Fear or Favour,’ Gbajabiamila said no country will thrive if the media spreads falsehood.
According to him, the media must also support the government in its drive to make meaningful impact in the country. “The choice is ours: either to make our country great through good reportage and analysis of issues, or to allow fake news and, in many cases, flagrant falsehood to take over the space. At this age of social/online media, the onus is on the real journalists to make a difference.
“But I believe that the media will not do anything that will take us backwards. I also want to believe that journalists are committed to seeing the country move forward.
“If that is the case, we must show patriotism in our dealings as media men and women. We must fight fake news, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic. I also wish to pay tribute to journalists who have been working hard at the frontline of reporting this pandemic at great personal cost,” he said.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged journalists to observe ethical codes of the profession in their reportage.
NUJ President Mr. Chris Isiguzo, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said that WPFD was a day to reflect on the enhancement of professionalism in practice.
He said: “It is the celebration of the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
“We enjoin journalists on this auspicious occasion of the 2020 World Press Freedom Day, to work assiduously towards promoting ethical journalism without fear and favour.”
Isiguzo said that no democracy could grow and flourish without a vibrant independent media that would be a catalyst for good governance and rule of law.