World Press Freedom Day: Governor Amaechi urges Nigerian journalists to continue to support democracy
The Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has admonished Nigerian journalists to continue to support democracy, in order to move the nation forward.
With this year’s World Press Freedom Day coming barely three weeks to the historic inauguration of General Muhammadu Buhari as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having won the March 28 election, he said the roles of journalists could not be over-emphasized.
Governor Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), through the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, in Port Harcourt, urged journalists to continue to be fearless, accurate, fair and objective.
The Rivers Governor described this year’s theme for the World Press Freedom Day, “Let Journalism Thrive: Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age,” as apt and timely, while calling for better opportunities for women journalists.
Governor Amaechi said, “Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights and essential pillars of democratic societies and good governance. Journalists bridge the information gap.
“Many journalists have died, disappeared or in jail across the world, in their determination to bring good news to the members of the public and they must not be forgotten.
“Every effort should be made by government to ensure that journalists do their work in safe and enabling environments, while the crimes against them are prosecuted. However, the media professionals also have an obligation to ensure fairness, accuracy, decency, responsibility, impartiality and objectivity in the discharge of their duties”, Governor Amaechi said.
“Our administration has been media-friendly. Welfare of journalists is being given priority attention. We are happy to announce that we have completed one of the best Press Centres in Africa. But from scratch and tastefully furnished to the best of international standards, the Press Centre stands as a testimonial to our belief in the critical role of the media in democracy and governance”, the governor said.
He thanked the media in Rivers state for their supportive role and show of appreciation as on May 1, 2015, during the celebration of the Workers’ Day at the Isaac Boro Park in Port Harcourt, members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, held big banners to show appreciation for the befitting Ernest Ikoli Press Centre.
Governor Amaechi called on members of the public to continue to support journalists to succeed, while admonishing security personnel to always avoid attacking the media professionals, who are the fourth estate of the realm.
The United Nations General Assembly , in December 1993, following the recommendation of General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day.
The day is to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression , enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights .
It is also an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year UNESCO is focusing on the need for quality journalism, especially reporting that is accurate and independent, while expressing dismay that gender imbalance still continues in the media, 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change, with too few women journalists able to reach decision-making positions in the media.
Commissioner of Information and Communications,
May 3, 2015