President Muhammadu Buhari has described Nigerian Journalists as a unique set of professionals in their chosen field of endeavour.
President of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo disclosed this to state house correspondents, after he led the National leadership of the union to the Presidential Villa on a courtesy visit on Thursday.
He said: “He appreciated the role that Journalists play in a democracy and he said Nigerian Journalists are a unique set of professionals which of course, is a good one and that is basically why we are here and it has been a good meeting with Mr. President.”
We drew his attention to the fact that journalism profession has become more like a challenge to all of us. The problem that we are having every now and then, and of course, freedom of expression, it does appear that it is taking flight and we said if we are indeed a democratic nation, journalists must be given free hands to ply their trade.
Isiguzo said the NUJ used the opportunity to draw President Buhari’s attention to few cases of harassment of Journalists and he pledged to wade into the matter.
“A situation where there is clampdown and harassment doesn’t speak well for Nigeria as a democracy and we told the president that, and when he was responding, he told us that he’s going to improve on what he’s done in the last four years, that there will be a change, a positive change,” he said.
The NUJ President further stated that they were in the State House to congratulate him on his re-election and also task him on some challenges confronting the nation.
“Basically, we have come to congratulate the President on his re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of course, to also make it clear to him that to whom so much is given, much more is also expected from him. He’s gone through the first-four years; by May 29, he will be through with that and he’s been given yet another mandate to lead Nigeria for another four years and we also made it clear to him some of the major challenges that we have had in the past four years, this is an opportunity for him to correct them especially when it comes to the area of inclusiveness, carrying everybody along.
“That is the spirit of the federal character principle that is enshrined in our constitution; that he’s got to carry people along, and of course, we talked about the security problem that we have, not just in the North-East, but even the banditry in the North-West – in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto.
“We raised that issue and of course, we challenged him to ensure that the security architecture is overhauled to be able to effectively tackle these challenges that we have. We commended him for the fact that as we speak now, there is no part of the country that is under the control of insurgents which is good, unlike when he came on board. But we also told him that it is very important that terrorism is completely stamped out – effectively tackled and not technically degraded. We want it to be out of our national life. That was what we told him,” Isiguzo explained.
The NUJ President also used the opportunity to encourage Nigerians to always take their leaders to task on quality service delivery.
“Well, there is this post that has been trending on social media that a group of people that elects a bad leader are not victims. They are accomplices. Now that we have voted in our leaders, it is also incumbent on us to put them under check. You don’t elect people and not bother about what they do. You only wait for them to bring bags of rice, bags of salt.
“A lawmaker that has been elected is coming to donate Keke NAPEP (Tricycles) and Okada (Motor cycles) to you. That is not the reason he was elected. So, it is not only the Journalists that will hold leaders accountable, the citizens must also hold accountable those that have been elected at all times. A lawmaker should be coming periodically to you and say, ‘this is the law that I have sponsored and has been passed by the National Assembly,’ and not the number of Keke NAPEP that has been shared to people and of course, we also need to hold our governors accountable. It is not just that it is every four years that they will be coming to us. Let’s bear in mind that whatever you collect during electioneering is something that has been given to you that will last for four years.
“So, you must be careful. As long as politicians will tell you, ‘collect,’ don’t sell your conscience. It is very important. There will be supplementary elections on Saturday. We expect those in affected areas to troop out in their numbers. Let them not keep away and say ‘they have rigged it.’
“They will not rig it if you come out. But if you stay at home, you are giving them the opportunity to now decide what happens to you. So, it is incumbent on us to take our destiny in our own hands. On Saturday, I wish Nigerians successful supplementary elections in the affected states,” he said.