From Kemi Yesufu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has expressed concern over Nigeria’s demotion in the International Press Freedom Index.
The Press Freedom Index released, last Wednesday, by Reporters Without Borders, ranked Nigeria 122 out of 180 countries examined.
Dogara, in a statement, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, to mark World Press Freedom Day, which is observed the world over on May 2, described the Nigeria’s current rating as ‘disheartening’.
The Speaker stated that no society can grow without an active press to monitor and report key issues.
He, therefore, reiterated the commitment of the National Assembly to enact laws which would create a conducive environment for journalism to thrive in the country.
Dogara assured that the House of Representatives, being aware that the press must be free to truly be the watchdog of the society, will continue to support measures to promote press freedom in Nigeria, especially through laws that facilitate the practice of journalism such as the Freedom of Information Act, which was passed by the National Assembly in 2011.
The statement read in part: “We all know the role of the media in promoting democracy, because democracy itself guarantees nothing. It is just a set of ideals that people utilising the freedom that democracy brings to organise their lives in such a manner that delivers social progress and economic development.
“The media serves as one of the voices of democracy and I believe that beyond all the roles played by all others, the media is far ahead in that it keeps the citizens informed about what government is doing and that enables them to hold public officials accountable, for instance, to the promises that they made.”
He urged journalists to strive to ensure that there’s always timely, accurate and balanced reportage and decried the situation whereby some professionals engage in brinkmanship or politicising their content, saying that such acts “tend to endanger democracy, because in that way citizens aren’t well informed.”