Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says the media is a strong partner of government, as it carries out its responsibility to Nigerians.
He made the remark on Thursday night at a dinner for heads of media organizations across the country.
The event, put together by the Presidential Villa’s media and communication team, was used to appreciate the captains of the media for their help and support to the Nigerian government in the past four years.
Addressing the gathering, which comprised of heads of both government and private media organizations, including their editors, the Vice President said: “I want to say how very thankful I am, for all support we get every day from the Press and to say that for good and for ill at all times, whether you report nicely or not so nicely, you will always be friends and partners.”
Osinbajo said media practitioners in the country must do something about the spread of fake news, before it consumes the nation.
Making particular reference to an old video that recently went viral, where people were seen jumping through the window from a high-rise building, purported to be Nigerians based in South Africa running from xenophobic attacks, the Vice President said:
“I thought somebody in the media; may be radio, may be TV, could seize the initiative and correct the fake news. I think that we as media people, all of us are now media people on social media, print, TV must begin to do something serious about fake news before it consumes us all.”
Professor Osinbajo, who also sighted an example of how the media was awash with the story of President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate saga form Cambridge University, admonished the media to always cross check and report the facts, to save the country the agony of believing what is wrong, only to later discover it was fake.
“Because nobody bothered to find out or didn’t want to find out, the public believed a lie for so long even after the President had brought his certificate form Cambridge West African School. So, with the anonymity of the social media, every day the problems of a free Press are becoming more and more complex and even more dangerous,” he lamented.
The Vice President, who thanked media practitioners for their support, said he has always been very fascinated by the media.
In a good will message, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who was represented on the occasion, thanked the media for always supporting all arms of government, adding that the media did a very good job during the country’s general election and the election of principal officers of the 9th National Assembly.
Earlier, Secretary to Government of the Federation, (SGF) Boss Mustapha, thanked the Nigerian media for its massive support.
He noted that the Muhammadu Buhari led administration runs a very accountable and transparent government, thus laying the foundation for a sound economy.
“We have run a government that is accountable to the public by all standards. The Buhari Administration has laid a solid foundation for Nigeria’s economic development through massive investments in agriculture, power, transportation infrastructure and manufacturing. We believe that tangible investments in these priority areas will drive the nation’s economic diversification programmes, curb inflation and shore up foreign reserves,” he said.
Mustapha also highlighted the successes recorded by the administration in the fight against terrorism and corruption but solicited more support from the media, as he assured them of the needed freedom to operate in any part of the country.
He said: “The anti-corruption fight is upbeat. The control measures to tackle leakages
in public resources have saved us billions of naira, while those who stole our common patrimony are being made to return what they illegally acquired for themselves and their cronies through the legal process.
“To our media partners, I want to stress that in the determination of this administration to place Nigeria on the path of rapid growth and sustainable development, we will always count on your role as the watchdog of the society, partners in progress, and the conscience of the nation.
“The Buhari Administration will not muzzle the Press as you perform the important work of providing the public with reliable and quality information. We acknowledge that no real democracy can exist anywhere in the world without freedom of the press.”
Sincerity of Partnership
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, who responded on behalf of the heads of media organizations, thanked government for recognizing the contribution of the media towards sustaining democracy in the country.
He assured government of more support, as it pilots the affairs of the country.
“We have been appreciated here on three or four counts but let me mention only two; that the federal government of Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari had underscored that we were one of the builders of the democracy in which we are today. This is a testimony that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government recognizes the immense role the Nigerian media is playing in the development of this country.
“The government as well, for appreciating us today has demonstrated that what we have witnessed in the past four years, that all the flowers had to blossom, that we cannot most of the time speak with one voice, that throughout history and in every country of the world, media stands to do the oversight function outside that done by the National Assembly or the parliament., that our oversight function is not out of malice but the only way to remind those in government that there are groups that are left behind and those left behind have to be covered with the commonwealth of the State,” he stated.
Mr Okechukwu thanked the Nigeran government for the honour done to media practitioners, which he said showed the sincerity of the partnership existing between government and the media.
He described the Nigerian media as one of the freest in the world, adding that the media would remain constructive in trying to advice the federal states and local governments on what it thinks is best for the nation.
The VON Director General said the media was in full support of the federal government’s decision to transmit funds meant for local governments direct to them, saying doing so will enhance development.