President Buhari urges ‘responsible freedom’ on World Press Day

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By BASHIR ADEFAKA

 

“That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness, particularly in a polity seriously challenged as ours now,” President Buhari says. “The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided.”

 

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President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, on Saturday, reiterated the commitment of his administration to freedom of the press, and urged media professionals to wield such freedom responsibly and without licentiousness.

President Buhari said this in a statement, issued in Abuja and copy sent to The DEFENDER by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, identifying with members of the journalism community on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day coming up on Sunday.

The day is observed globally every May 3.

While celebrating the landmark day with the media, Mr. Adesina said that the President noted that freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.

“That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness, particularly in a polity seriously challenged as ours now,” President Buhari says. “The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided. The media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage incendiary words and actions that could further hurt our unity in diversity.”

Licentious freedom, the President said, is different from freedom with responsibility, and charged the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.

On the part of government, President Buhari pledged greater cooperation with the media to discharge its duties, in line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, ‘Information as a Public Good.’

He charged those who manage information for government to do everything in public interest, while also encouraging the media to use the Freedom of Information Act available to make its jobs easier.

The President submitted that it is very vital to have access to reliable information in an era of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech, all to cause discord in society.


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