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Sanwo-Olu canvasses for press freedom, urge politicians not to gag the media

Ayodele Olalere

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday canvassed for freedom of the press and urged politicians and public office holders not to gag the media.

According to the governor, press freedom is an important aspect of democracy.

The governor spoke as a Special Guest of Honour at a workshop organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), themed: “Journalist and Digitalisation: the imperative of Good Corporate Governance” held at Ikeja, Lagos.

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Sanwo-Olu, who, declared the workshop open, said ensuring good corporate governance and self-regulation of the digital space would completely eradicate false and fake news, and assured the media personnel that his administration will continue to promote press freedom and good corporate governance as well as enabling environment for journalists in the state, urged media practitioners to always regulate their activities.

“I stand with you in solidarity; to say that, indeed, your profession is not just a noble one, but it’s the one that gives the general public an independent assessment; holding our governance and government accountable at all times. And so, we need to be very careful as politicians and public officers that we do not gag this profession (media) and do not unduly stifle free press.

“Our government understands and appreciates that press freedom is the way in which we can hold the government accountable. But it is also the responsibility of all of us here to ensure that we understand the thin line; and also self-regulate our activities,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu while stressing the need for media practitioners to self-regulate themselves, urged them to work towards the complete eradication of fake and false news.

Sanwo-Olu also urged the media to continue to support his administration, adding he has enjoyed working with the media and looks forward to enjoying more in the remaining part of his four years tenure.

In his speech, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Issa, said the media would not succumb to pressure from the government to determine the people’s right to information.

He said the situation where the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that reports to the Minister of Information would also be the one to unilaterally impose fines on broadcast stations for unfavorable reports was tantamount to gagging the media.

The NGE President, who urged media owners to embrace good corporate governance and accountability, said the role of scrutiny of the media should not be that of the government alone, adding that the media should not be threatened.

Issa said digital technology has provided room for journalists to become competitive and open sources of income.

Also speaking, a veteran journalist and the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Lanre Idowu, said digitalization had brought more opportunities to journalism but has equally brought to the fore the need to uphold ethics, and quality content.

He said journalists must decide whether to embrace digital platforms or be out of business.