As Nigeria yesterday joined the rest of the world to mark the World Press Freedom Day, WPFD, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari, said yesterday that Nigeria had an unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, disseminated by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.
This came as the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, demanded special protection for journalists in the frontline in the nation’s battle against the rampaging coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly, the International Press Centre, IPC, Lagos, reminded government and other stakeholders, especially the legislature, the judiciary, the security agencies and media associations of the critical role they need to play for the survival of press freedom.
The President in his message, he said: “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.” He commended the role the Nigerian media have played thus far, and charged 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.”
“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.”
NGE On its part, NGE in a statement by its President and Social and Publicity Secretary, Mustapha Isah and Ken Ugbechie, respectively. urged media owners to provide special protective equipment for these journalists, in order for them not to be infected. The guild congratulated all journalists in the country and across the world, especially those in the frontline covering the COVID-19 pandemic.