BENIN CITY – The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has charged journalists to uphold the ethics of the journalism profession to deepen good governance and fast-track the nation’s advancement.
Obaseki who gave the charge on the occasion of the United Nation’s World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3, each year, noted that “a free, uninhibited and independent press is a major pillar for the sustenance of democracy, good governance and economic advancement.”
He commended the display of courage by journalists who daily challenge oppressive governments, obnoxious policies and impunity by political actors, and explained “that the world’s history is replete with inspiring stories on the doggedness of journalists, who published objective reports in defense of truth, that changed the course of history for the better, even at great personal cost.”
“In Nigeria, the struggle for independence from the colonial masters was led largely by journalists and sustained by their fiery articles. Media practitioners were in the fore-front to oust the military from the country’s political space and enthrone democratic governance with such values as; the Rule of Law, free and fair elections, accountability of the government to the people, independent judiciary, tolerance of opposition views and multi-party system, which we all enjoy today,” he said.
He added that “the recent global outcry over the activities of human traffickers and modern slave masters by the horrifying report of the international media outfit, the Cable News Network (CNN), on illegal migration by Africans, exposed the frightening scale of the inhuman activity.”
According to the governor, “media practitioners will do more to advance the quality of governance if they uphold the ethics of the profession, leverage on the power of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and strive for more independence in carrying out their task as the society’s watch- dog and members of the exalted forth estate of the realm of governance.”
He assured that his administration is set to commence the revamp of the state-owned media enterprises; Edo Broadcasting Service Radio and Television and the Observer Newspapers, to strengthen the media platforms for people in the state to express themselves and contribute to the development discourse.
“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,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said.
The global body organises a series of activities to mark World Press Freedom Day, including “the conferment of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.”