Today is World Press Freedom Day. The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in Windhoek in 1991.
In his message on the occasion of World, Press Freedom Day celebrated every May 3, President Buhari specifically commended the media for their role in Nigeria’s effort to tackle the disease he described as “unseen enemy called COVID-19.”
“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,” the President says.
He applauds 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.”
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 government, the President pledges 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,“ President Buhari affirms.