The Nigerian Guild of Editors says threat to media is threat to democracy.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors who stated this in a communique endorsed by the President Mustapha Isah and General Secretary Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Urged the Federal Government to make newsprints, broadcast equipment, consumables tax-free
They affirmed that it is the inalienable right of journalists to access and disseminate information through an independent press and called for the urgent need to protect the media, adding that democracy is in danger when a free press is threatened.
The Guild said that while the threat to the media freedom in Nigeria is real, the impact on the state of democracy in the Country will be very dangerous, if not checked.
They described the world press freedom day as a day of reflection among journalists and other media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors reminded governments at all levels that a free and independent media that can keep the people informed and hold leaders accountable, is essential for a strong and sustainable democracy, including free and fair elections.
The Guild expressed concerned that elected leaders in Nigeria, who should be press freedom’s dependable protectors, have made several over attempts to silence the media voices through proposed legislations, that clearly seek to criminalize journalism practice in the Country.
They noted that apart from the regular attacks on journalists – carrying out their legitimate editorial assignments by overzealous security agents, the current attempts to criminalize journalism practice in the country through obnoxious proposed laws, the suffocating economic environment and harsh political/economic policies of the federal government, have in the past few years, made it almost impossible for the media sector to carry out its constitutional responsibility for the benefit of the citizens.
The Guild called for urgent protecting of the media; as the impact of the suffocating economic and political environment being created by the government will be very dangerous to democracy.
According to them, Governments at all levels must take the lead in making sure that their actions do not inspire violations of press freedom adding that a democratic society like Nigeria should know that it has a crucial role to play in maintaining media freedom and facilitating access to public information.
While saluting journalists, pro-media rights groups and others who have remained resolute in the defence of press freedom and independent press in the country, the guild said that its organizing Town Hall Meeting and Capacity Training Programme for editors in the six geo-political zones – being sponsored by the US Embassy in Nigeria, is on going,adding that they have also provided a huge opportunity to remind its members about the ethical values of journalism practice and the need to strictly adhere to those values.
They further stated that editors have also resolved to continue to set agenda for conversation in addressing the major issues affecting the country, including insecurity, political violence and others in the country.