The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has commended the media for its role in the ongoing national campaigns against terrorism and corruption, saying the media has availed itself creditably in keeping the people informed about the campaigns.
“So far we have enjoyed tremendous support from the media, especially in our anti-corruption fight and our fight against terrorism. I think the media has done very well,” he said while receiving members of the Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI), who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja on Tuesday.
He reiterated his earlier statement that in a time of national crisis, the media cannot afford to be neutral
”We are not saying that you should suspend your professional judgement, but you cannot afford to sit on the fence when the issues we are talking about are issues that are capable of affecting the unity of the country.
”Just the same way that the media rallied round us when we had Ebola crisis, they are rallying round us today over the Boko Haram issue. I think that the kind of support we have received from them and which we will continue to receive from them is very gladdening,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He promised to collaborate with the IPI to improve the welfare and safety of journalists practicing in Nigeria.
The Minister urged the IPI to lend its voice to the ongoing fight against corruption, saying the government will continue to prosecute the war within the confines of the law.
He advised those standing trial for corruption not to prolong their trial by deploying unnecessary legal tactics, and said the rule of law should not be misconstrued as a shield to protect corruption suspects from standing trial.
Alhaji Mohammed also expressed the willingness of the federal government to partner with the IPI to explore the possibility of hosting the 2018 Congress of the Institute in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Nigerian National Committee of the IPI, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, stressed the need for Nigeria to host the Annual Congress of the Institute in 2018 because of the opportunity it will provide for the nation to interact with leading global media professionals and also improve the image of the country.
“It is important that while we are trying to fix the country, we should also fix its image. This will have to take some doing and we have to do it ourselves and show the best sides of this country,” he said.
Alhaji Yusuf disclosed that the Institute is planning some training for journalists in the country, especially in the area of safety in view of the challenging work environment created by the insurgency in the North-east.
The IPI is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists who are dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practice of journalism.