BE STEADFAST, JOURNALISTS CHARGED
Journalists in the country have been urged not to be daunted by the non-passage of the Freedom of Information, FOI Bill. Special Adviser (Media), to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Mr. Tony Iyare who gave the advice in Benin while speaking on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day organized by the Edo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), observed that freedom of the press the world over does not come easy.
'We have to struggle and fight to earn freedom. So we must deepen that struggle to ensure the passage,' adding that 'if the Bill is passed today, it is the beginning of another round of struggle. As journalists, we have to ensure that the political leaders abide by the principles of law.'
He stated that the challenges of the FOI Bill were enormous as it would require journalists to go the extra mile to make policy makers implement in totality the principles of the bill when it was finally passed into law by the National Assembly.
At the lecture which had as theme, 'Freedom of Information: The Rights to Know,' as part of activities marking the 2010 World Press Freedom Day, Iyare urged journalists to get themselves educated beyond paper qualification.
At the occasion which turned out to be classroom lecture for journalists in Edo State, the special adviser was of the view that 'at no time than now is better to be a journalist,' owing to the advancement in communication technology, a development he noted, had made the job easier.
He, however, lamented that most journalists were yet to exploit the tools of the trade of journalism provided by information technology to deepen the issues of freedom and democracy, even as he warned that the job of journalists would be taken over by the popular and social media unless the mainstream journalists get enlisted in the information age and the multiplicity of news sources.
'You can see man on the street with his mobile phone recording happenings not only of human angle interest but on important issues and he sends same to any part of the world. These groups of people are not journalists, but they have equipped themselves with the basic tools to get information and send same across the globe in no time.'
The Edo State Council Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Friday Obanor had earlier remarked that the theme of the celebration was apt as media practitioners were in dire need of the passage of FOI bill. He implored journalists to promote issues that would enrich democracy in the country as against succumbing to pressures from anti-democratic forces.