Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has called on politicians and public office holders not to gag the media as press freedom is important in a democracy.
The governor made this call on Thursday in Lagos during a workshop organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, themed, ‘Journalism and digitalisation: The imperative of good corporate governance.’
The Lagos State Governor noted that his administration will continue to ensure good corporate governance and self-regulation of the digital space to completely eradicate false and fake news.
He said, “I stand with you (media practitioners) in solidarity; to say that, indeed, your profession is not just a noble one, but it’s the one that gives the general public an independent assessment; holding our governance and government accountable at all times. And so, we need to be very careful as politicians and public officers that we do not gag this profession (media) and do not unduly stifle the free press.
“Our government understands and appreciates that press freedom is the way in which we can hold government accountable. But it is also the responsibility of all of us here to ensure that we understand the thin line; and also self-regulate our activities.
“I cannot agree less with the president of the NGE that says that the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission should not only be independent, it should be equipped with men of impeccable character and integrity that can work like the Oxfam of this world and indeed sanction erring people but give freedom for all of you to do your work.”
Regarding my view about corporate governance, it is also to ensure that in the digital space, we eradicate completely within the profession, false news and fake news. People sometimes rush to post something without doing proper due diligence to verify what they are posting and ask themselves what damage would they do if they found out what they posted is not completely true.
“You must be a bit more circumspect and know that once information is out there, you cannot retrieve it. That in itself puts a lot of professional pressure on whoever is posting any report. I have enjoyed working with all of you and I am looking forward to enjoying more in the remaining part of my four years tenure,” he added.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, described the situation where the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation that reports to the Minister of Information would also be the one to unilaterally impose fines on broadcast stations for unfavourable reports.
“I urge media owners to embrace good corporate governance and accountability because the role of scrutiny of the media should not be that of the government alone and the media should not be threatened,” he stated.
The Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Publications and Chairman of the occasion, Mr Lanre Idowu, said, “To begin with, the internet as the information superhighway provides a revolutionary speed of developing and delivering information to larger audiences. The user-friendliness of the platforms through access to interactivity, use of multimedia, and hypertextuality open up new directions for audience engagement and patronage. The cheaper production cost has opened up new usage, which is well utilised by social platforms.”