Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the media for its role to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
He said this in his message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day celebrated every May 3rd.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, Buhari applauded the good work the media have done, and are still doing, as the country confronts the COVID-19 crisis.
“We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe. It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively.”
President also applauded the role the Nigerian media have played thus far, and charges that they continue, “till we get to safe harbour when the world and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”
Reflecting on the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020, ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’, President Buhari opined that Nigeria has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, and hate news purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly online media.
According to him, “they don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause. In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation. When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom. I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”
On the part of the government, he pledged a recommitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.
“We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the coronavirus, and look forward to same, post-COVID-19 when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives,” Buhari affirmed.