From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has commended Nigerian journalists for what he described as their commendable ‘civic vigilance’.
The vice president reminded them that, like other Nigerians, ‘this country is ours, whether we are press, politicians or religious people, the country is ours, and we must do everything to ensure that the country remains safe, secure, and united, and this so important.’
Prof Osinbajo spoke when he received at the Presidential Villa the national executive of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its President, Mr Chris Isiguzo.
According to the VP, ‘I thank you for your civic vigilance, for the very kind words you have spoken about Nigeria, and for remaining steadfast in your belief for the rule of law and press freedom in the country.’
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media Publicity Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, Vice President Osinbajo added that ‘as I keep saying, the elite in our country, those of us who have had the benefit of education, positions and all of that, we owe millions of our people who are poor, who have no access and have no voice, a duty to ensure that we don’t let things become worse for them.’
The VP called on stakeholders in Nigeria to replicate efforts in other climes where the media and the government collaborate in the interest of security and unity.
‘There are so many countries faced with a national challenge and where you have people who are prepared to subvert the entire republic, the press works actively with government to ensure that the information space is protected in such a way that people who want to subvert the republic are not allowed to do so.
‘But I think it is important because your voices as respected members of the fourth estate of the realm, your voices are very important in moderating the kinds of views that we hear constantly which in the end, (if care is not taken) subverts the polity.’
Continuing, the VP noted that ‘it is important for us to continue to emphasise that the unity of this country is crucial because if this country breaks up in any way or becomes the subject of what some people will like it to be, all of us will lose out. Obviously, the elite will survive in any way but the vast majority of our people will not.
‘So, I will urge that we should as much as possible do whatever we can in our spaces that we occupy to keep emphasising that we cannot afford a situation where the national unity of this country is compromised or where the country is made the theater of conflict and all sorts of insurgencies and crimes.’
Earlier in his opening remarks, Isiguzo commended the initiatives of the Buhari administration in the areas of employment opportunity creation, skills training for the youth, among others.
He said in acknowledgment of its role in the society, the union has over the years ‘engaged in training and retraining of Journalists with assistance from various development partners to build capacity of journalists to effectively bring to public attention humanitarian situations in the country in a fair manner, honestly, and constructively.’
Isiguzo noted that the union frowned against fake news and would do everything in its powers to check the menace, calling on ‘journalists to be careful not to be tempted into propagating fake news by ensuring proper and adequate checks before stories are written and transmitted for public consumption.’
The NUJ president also restated the call for a bailout fund to be provided for the media industry, noting that many media houses are forced to cut salaries or lay off their workers because of the increasing difficulty to sustain operations.
National executive members of the union present at the meeting include the Deputy President, Alhaji Mukhtar Gidado; National Secretary Shuaibu Leman; President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Ladi Bala; and FCT Chairman of the union Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche, among others.
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