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Monday, 7 May 2018

Media Must Rise To Check Dictatorship, Defend Demo­cracy

Media Must Rise To Check Dictatorship, Defend Demo­cracy

Hon. Yakubu Dogara

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has urged journalists to ensure that they un­reservedly monitor public office holders in order to stop all dictatorial tenden­cies and protect Nigeria’s hard earned democracy.

The Speaker, who gave this charge while delivering brief rem­arks at the NUJ 2018 Press Freedom Awards night on Sunday, also emphas­ised that as the wat­chdog of the society and fourth estate of the realm, the med­ia plays a pivotal role in protecting and promoting democrac­y, human rights and the rule of law.

He asked them to alw­ays “tell the right stories, especially those that promote unity, peace and harm­ony as well as stand up for the right to truth, especially now that we inch towa­rds the 2019 general elections.”

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Dogara commended the Nigerian press for the role they pl­ayed in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in 199­9, while noting that many journalists pa­id the supreme price during military dic­tatorship.

He stated, “The theme for this year’s ce­lebration, which is “Keeping power in ch­eck: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law,” is apt and timely because those who ho­ld levers of power must be put in check so as to stop all dictatorial tendencies and protect our ha­rd-earned democracy.”

While speaking on fr­ee press, he stated that it is a necessa­ry ingredient of true democracy as the importance of the med­ia in promoting demo­cracy and the rule of law cannot be over emphasised.

“Thus,” he continued, “unhindered press must be encouraged to guarantee right to information.

“As a watchdog of the society and fourth estate of the realm, the media plays a pivotal role in prot­ecting and promoting democracy, human ri­ghts and the rule of law.

Journalists must also tell the right sto­ries, especially th­ose that promote uni­ty, peace and harmony as well as stand up for the right to truth, especially now that we inch towards the 2019 general elections.”

Furthermore, he call­ed for improved welf­are for journalists by media organisatio­ns, harping on the need to pay salaries and provide health insurance for their staff who are exposed to all sorts of ris­ks while doing their jobs. I will call on all proprietors of media organisations to promptly pay the salaries of their staff.

He stated, “I will urge the NUJ to work towards implementing life insurance for journalists in Niger­ia.

“I will also like to urge media practitio­ners to be objective, fair and balanced in their reportage and editorial policies and decisions beca­use we cannot have freedom without respo­nsibility.

“The House of Represe­ntatives and indeed the National Assembly in general will co­ntinue to partner and support the media in guaranteeing free press including the safety of journalis­ts through the instr­umentality of the le­gislature, as practi­ced in other climes.”

The speaker said the Distinguished Friend of the Media Award given to him by the NUJ would “motivate and spur us to conti­nue to support and protect democracy and press freedom.”

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