Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has rejected a report listing Nigeria as a country not conducive for the practice of journalism, and where press freedom is endangered.
Minister Mohammed recalled that even as a section of the Nigerian media has refused to recognize popular sovereignty by stripping the Nigerian leader of the title ‘President’ and presenting him as a dictator, no one has been placed in incarceration.
Recall that a section of the Nigerian media has chosen to address the President as Major General Mohammed Buhari (retd) for some reasons.
Mohammed said, “Despite that abuse of press freedom, those doing that have continued to practice their profession without hindrance.”
“Ours must also be one of the few countries in the world where a reputable medium will report fake news and, when called out, will not retract or apologize,” he added.
Lai Mohammed, in Abuja on Tuesday, waved aside the 2021 annual World Press Freedom Index, where Nigeria was shown to the rest of the world as a country where journalists are not free to do their job.
The Minister said this when he played host to the executive members of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI), who were on a courtesy visit to his office.
Musikilu Mojeed, who is the President of IPI in Nigeria, had during the visit cited the World Press Freedom Index as an example of the country’s low rating in the area of press freedom.
In his response, Minister Mohammed disagreed saying that the Nigerian press remains among the most vibrant and freest in the world.
“I disagree vehemently with the assessment because it is unfounded and has no scientific basis. I have been the Minister (of Information and Culture) since 2015 so I know the state of press freedom in Nigeria,” the Minister said.
Maintaining that the present administration is not a threat to journalism, the minister however warned that government would not allow the use of social media to misconstrue its efforts.
He enjoined the media to always stick to their constitutional watchdog role, and not to constitute themselves into political opposition.
” For example, on the issue of ethics, is it part of the ethics of journalism for a media organization to function as an opposition party, seeing nothing good in the government of the day and only reporting bad news?” Alhaji Mohammed queried.