The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has appealed to the media to safeguard the country, its nationhood, and citizens for growth and true development.
Mohammed made the plea yesterday at a one-day symposium on Information as a Public Good, which was organised by the Ministry of Information in partnership with the Nigerian Press Council, National Broadcasting Commission and NATCOM UNESCO.
He urged the media to weed out those whose activities include spreading fake news, misinformation and hate speech, which were undermining professionalism and eroding public confidence in the media.
The minister, who was represented by the Director Production, Publication and Documentation, Mr Ibidapo Okunnu, reiterated that government is of the belief that promoting information as a public good is necessary to draw attention to the special role of journalism in producing news as verified information in the public interest as well as to build upon the nation’s democratic achievements in the last six years.
He asked the media to be circumspect in investigating the truth behind all statements and present the facts to the readers by taking into cognisance the nation’s unity and security.
He also reiterated the call to the media to set up a desk to fact-check all information at their disposal before dissemination.
In his goodwill message, the National President of Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), Dr Kabir Garba Tsanni, reaffirmed the importance of information as a public good that could be used to explore how to strengthen journalism to advance transparency.
Tsanni called for the insurance of media professionals considering the hazards associated with their job. He also urged the government to approve special salaries for journalists in addition to the provision of palliatives to media houses to ameliorate the biting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his own remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Press Council, Mr Francis Nwosu, exhorted journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility and be very conscious of national security, national interest and well-being.