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Yero Says Press Freedom Threatens Democracy

Agaju Madugba

Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State has described press freedom as threat to the nation’s democracy, arguing that the noble profession is being contaminated.

Yero spoke in Kaduna yesterday in a message he sent on the occasion of the 2015 World Press Freedom Day, organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in collaboration with UNESCO and the Nigerian Press Council.

Yero paid glowing tribute to what he called the courage, tenacity and sacrifices of journalists world over who laid down their lives in the quest to keep society informed.

However, the governor regretted that, “the freedom of the press we are talking about today in our country has become so free that the virtue of the profession has given way to all manner of practices.

“The journalism profession in Nigeria today is fast becoming like the Nigeria politics where no credentials are required for participation and no criteria for recruitment.

“What we saw from the press in the build up to the 2015 general elections, particularly from the electronic and social media was a demonstration of how fragile and dangerous freedom of the press is fast becoming in Nigeria.

“In the build up to the 2015 general elections, the press became so free and insensitive to the extent that leaders were called by their names and insulted.

“Nearly every journalist and every media house had their candidates or political parties and abuses, insults and character assassination became the order of the day and even the NBC that was supposed to be the referee in all the matches could not blow a single whistle throughout the matches in the build up to the elections.

“I am tempted to say that in netno distant time, some media houses may not be able to send their reporters to some government houses of the Villa in Abuja because of their posture on some candidates or political parties before the elections.

“The press world over is known to be a voice for the voiceless and it is also s temple where the rich, the poor, the strong and the weak, men   and women run for cover.

“But imagine what will happen to our world if we allow this noble profession to become contaminated.”

The theme of the 2015 World Press Freedom Day is, “Let journalism thrive towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in digital age.” In his address, the Secretary, National Monitoring Network work on Safety of Journalists, Gbemiga Bamidele, noted that the issue of safety of journalists and their sources had attracted global attention.

According to him, “the work of journalists often put them at specific risk of intimidation, harassment and violence.”

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