Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has commended Journalists in the country for what he described as their “civic vigilance” of the society.
Professor Osinbajo spoke on Monday when he received at the Presidential Villa, the National Executive of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its President, Mr Chris Isiguzo.
He reminded the Journalists like other Nigerians that “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. This is so important.”
Professor Osinbajo said; ‘’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.
”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.”
Security and unity
Referring to other places where the press and government collaborated to protect the information space, the VP called on stakeholders in Nigeria to replicate such efforts in the interest of security and unity.
He said; “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.”
The Vice President 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. Obviously, the elite will survive in any way but the vast majority of our people will not.”
“So, I 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 theatre of conflict and all sorts of insurgencies and crimes.”
The President of the Union, Mr Chris Isiguzo commended the initiatives of the Buhari Administration in the areas of employment opportunity, skills training for the youth, among others.
In acknowledgment of its role in the society, Mr Isiguzo said 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 and constructively.”
Mr Isiguzo noted that the union frowned against fake news and would do everything in its powers to check the menace.
He advised 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 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.
The National Executive members of the Union present at the meeting include; the the Deputy President, Alhaji Mukhtar Gidado; National Secretary, Shuaibu Leman; President of the National Association of Women Journalists, (NAWOJ), Ladi Bala; and the FCT Chairman of the Union, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche, among others.