May 3, 2020

World Press Freedom Day: Gbajabiamila, Wase hail Journalists on frontline of COVID -19 pandemic coverage

Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila

Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila

… task media on eradication of fake news

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Hon. Idris Wase has paid glowing tributes to Nigerian Journalists working at the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic coverage at great “personal cost”, saying they deserved better.

Both leaders in their respective statements to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day with the theme ‘Journalism Without Fear or Favour’, however, asked the media and the practitioners to tackle the menace of fake news.

Also read: World Press Day: Nigeria has unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news — Buhari

In his statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila said Nigerian media practitioners must resist every temptation that would make them promote reportage that was anti-people.

He lauded the doggedness of the Nigerian media in reporting and helping in finding solutions to the challenges facing the country over the years.

The Speaker said although the Nigerian media has contributed a lot in stabilizing the country, it would not be out of place to call on media practitioners in the country to be more factual about their reportage of activities in the society with a view to promoting development.

Gbajabiamila said the Nigerian media must rise to the challenge of fake news, especially as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic, saying such news would not do the country any good.

He said: “The choice is ours: either to make our country great through good reportage and analysis of issues or to allow fake news and, in many cases, flagrant falsehood to take over space. At this age of social/online media, the onus is on the real journalists to make a difference.

“But I believe that the Nigerian media would not do anything that will take us backwards. I also want to believe that media practitioners in the country are ever committed to seeing the country move forward.

“If that is the case, we must show patriotism in our dealings as media men and women. We must fight fake news, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic. I also wish to pay tribute to journalists who have been working hard at the frontline of reporting this pandemic at great personal cost”.

Similarly, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Ahmed in a solidarity message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Muhammad Puma on the commemoration of the day, commended Nigerian journalists for their enviable contributions towards the sustenance of democratic rule in the country.

He said journalists in the country deserved a better deal considering the poor conditions under which some of them are consigned to and made to operate.

He said that that better welfare would spur the media to be more productive and alive to her responsibilities.

“I wish to commend the Nigerian journalists for their resilience in spite of obvious poor working conditions. Your laudable contributions in information dissemination, education and enlightenment of the citizenry are well-acknowledged and appreciated.

“As you join your colleagues across the globe to mark the World Press Freedom Day, I commend your resilience and commitment to good governance in the discharge of your duties as the fourth estate of the realm.

“I urge all media owners to see to strive to provide enabling environment and improvement of the welfare of their employees. A worker who is better motivated will always give his best.

“The resilience and commitment of Nigerian journalists to good governance was paramount in the return to democratic rule.

Wase, however, noted that “reporting without fear or favour entails giving out information that is factual, objective and balanced and avoiding anything that is sensational and fake.”

He enjoined journalists to eschew fake news in their reportage in order to feed the society with “credible and truthful information that could advance the cause of good governance, socio-economic development, peace and unity in the nation”.