The Federal Government has pledged to encourage the practice of responsible journalism and not gag the press in the country.
Muhammad Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Malam made the pledge on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing State House reporters.
The Minister’s assurance is coming on the heels of allegations leveled on the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government hindering freedom of speech for its citizens, and threatening journalists via the National Broadcasting Commission .
According to Idris, a free and vibrant media practice and social media is significant to the success of the administration and the promotion of nationalism and patriotism.
“Mr President and all of us in that sector are committed to ensuring that there’s press freedom. That freedom, like I said, comes with responsibility. A lot of things that some of these people on social media are doing are also not very patriotic.
“Sometimes you say news that is not factual. But I don’t want a situation where it will be seen that the government is trying to gag the press. I want that to be underscored.
“There is no attempt by the government to gag the press. We’re going to do whatever it takes that is responsible and accountable. Responsible journalism is the way to go.
“The president values the freedom of the press and will continue to engage it at all times,” he said.
He furthered that the administration would engage in national reorientation of citizens in order to achieve its objectives of value reorientation and inclusiveness.
“Mr President has given me a matching order to see that Nigerians believe in this country once again. We’re coming up with a national discourse on orientation or reorientation. So that Nigerians can believe in their country.
“You know that people don’t even believe in leaders that they elected. Flags are not flying anymore. You go to government offices overseas, you don’t even see the symbol of our collective existence, flying even in public buildings,” Idris said.
On the welfare of the media practitioners in the country, Idris said that there were ongoing consultations on improving the standard of living of journalists, adding that the president has been supportive in this direction.
Idris added, “It is in the works. I have discussed that with Mr President. He wants to see me come up with a roadmap for that. We are going to work on that and in due course, you will get definite answers.
“The welfare of journalists will continue to be on the front burner because we believe in the freedom of the press and anything that will promote this freedom will be given priority.”
The Minister said the government would also take a look at suggestions to sanitise the press in the country without impeding them in any way.
“Well, that is being looked at. You know that Mr President believes in press freedom. He believes in the freedom of expression, and he’s not going to gag the press in any way, shape or form.
“He is going to work assiduously to ensure that the Nigerian press that has been free is even freer.
“But like I have been saying all the time, this freedom also comes with enormous responsibility.
“You can’t just say what is not right, because you’re enjoying press freedom,” he posited.