President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lauded the Nigerian media for its efforts in keeping people informed and educated amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The President’s comment was contained in a statement released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated every May 3.
“We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe,” the President was quoted as saying in the statement.
“It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively.”
He charged the media further to continue its good work, “till we get to safe harbour, when the world, and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”
The statement also revealed that the President reflected on the World Press Freedom Day 2020 theme: ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.’
Nigeria, the President believes, has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.
“They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause,” the President said.
“In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation.
“When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom.
“I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari pledged a re-commitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.
“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the coronavirus, and look forward to same, post COVID-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives,“ he said.