By Juliet Umeh, LAGOS
GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, Mr. Isa Mustapha and other top media practitioners, yesterday, warned against gagging the press, insisting that the media in Nigeria must be given free hand to carry out their profession.
Sanwo-Olu and others said this at the Nigerian Guild of Editors’ two-day workshop in Lagos, with the theme: ‘Journalism and Digitalisation: The Imperative of Good Corporate Governance.’
In his remarks, the Governor warned politicians against gagging the media as it is doing its work to hold the government accountable.
On the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC’s, fine on some media houses over the broadcast of the documentary on banditry, he said: “So, the question we ask is: where is press freedom? I stand with you in solidarity and indeed, your profession is not just a noble one but the one that gives the general public independent assessment, holding our government and governance accountable.
“And so, we need to be very careful as politicians that we do not gag this profession.
“Our government understands that press freedom is what we can use to hold the government accountable.
“The body of NBC should not only be independent but equipped with men of impeccable character and integrity and give freedom to all of you to do your work.”
Meanwhile, he noted that the theme of the workshop is apt, noting that technology is a strong cardinal deliverable for the citizens
Sanwo-Olu said: “Digitalisation has come to stay and we need to realize that things have changed. Gone are the days we believe that it is only when you sit in the newsroom that things happen.
“My view about corporate governance is also to ensure that this digital space will eradicate within the profession false news.
Fibre optics connectivity dots
Also, to help the media with better internet connectivity, Sanwo-Olu said: “We have completed the first phase of 3000 kilometres of fibre optics connectivity dots in Lagos.
And from the beginning of next year, we hope to start phase two which will be another 3000 kilometers of fibre optics. So, what that is doing is that we are bringing internet connectivity and infrastructure closer to businesses, houses, schools, hospitals and public offices.”
Media not afraid of being scrutinized — NGE boss
Earlier, in his opening speech, the NGE President, Mr Mustapha, while stating the position of the Guild on the fine to some media houses, said the media is not afraid of being watched or scrutinized.
Mustapha said: “The government cannot be the accusers and the judge on matters relating to it. Independent agencies should handle the allegations levelled against the media by the government and the media houses so the accused must be allowed to defend themselves.
“The Guild is opposed to the government’s decision. They should stop gagging the media. Take a look at our history, we survived those Abacha days and we will survive any bad government; nobody can intimidate us.
“They said Trust TV glamorized bandits and those who glamorized banditry by turbanning their leader in Zamfara State are walking free today; they have not been arrested but those who try to expose the activities of the bandits are being fined, is that justifiable? And, we are going to fight this, it can’t continue.”
Speaking on the theme of the workshop, Mustapha urged the media to adapt to the new way of doing things, which technology has introduced.
He said: “It is also good to know that a lot of traditional media have responded to this by creating their online sites and have taken the advantage of video, and audio to practice their profession.”