Jideofor Adibe, a Professor of Political Science at Nasarawa State University, Keffi and publisher of Adonis & Abbey Publishers, a London and Abuja-based publisher of professional books and peer-reviewed and indexed academic journals, has faulted the remarks by President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan over press freedom in Nigeria.
Buhari, in a statement on World Press Freedom Day by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, while suing for ‘Responsible Freedom,’ urged media professionals to wield freedom responsibly, and without licentiousness.
“That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness, particularly in a polity seriously challenged as ours now. The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided. The media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage incendiary words and actions that could further hurt our unity in diversity,” the president said.
On his part, Lawan, while felicitating with Nigerian journalists, called on the “practitioners to purge their noble profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of the mainstream practitioners”.
Reacting to the remarks from both Buhari and Lawan, Adibe in an interview with Arise Television on Monday, May 3 2021 which was monitored by The News Chronicle, said the onus is not on the government to decide what responsible journalism should be.
While noting that the Nigerian government is untrustworthy, the University don said “You can’t expect a state that is very much distrusted to come and preach responsible journalism to you”.
Adibe stated that groups such as the Nigerian Guild of Editors should determine what responsible journalism should be.
He argued that the unhealthy environment in which the Nigerian Press operates is one of the key reasons why the nation is sinking on the World Press Freedom Index. Nigeria is currently ranked 120 out of 180 countries.
It is imperative to note that this year’s theme of the World Press Freedom Day is ‘Information as a Public Good”.