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May 20, 2024
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World Press Day: Lawmaker Reminds Media of Accountability Role

The Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi, has reiterated the role of the press to hold the government accountable at an event organised by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).

He said the constitutional role of the press is not to be seen as a mouthpiece or a public relations agent of the government but to ensure that the government is accountable to the people.

Mr Rotimi stated this during his opening remarks at an event organised by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Foundation to commemorate the 2024 World Press Day in Abuja on Friday.

“The role of the press is not to be seen as a mouthpiece or a PR agent of the government. It is to hold the government to account. Don’t forget it emphasised that at all times it is important that the press plays this constitutional role of holding the government accountable.” he said

The House spokesperson emphasised the impact of quality journalism and dissemination of accurate information, saying they present a chance to honour the foundational values of press freedom, evaluate the status of press freedom globally, protect media from assaults, and commemorate journalists who have sacrificed their lives in service.

Mr Rotimi, a former media aide to former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described the Nigerian media as one of the most vibrant institutions in the country.

He, however, lamented the environment of Nigerian journalists’ work. According to him, though there is widespread insecurity in the country, media practitioners face a disproportionate amount of attacks.

“This is a different dream about Nigeria’s state of press freedom, especially issues around harassment, and even killings. And all journalists and I particularly sympathise with you because of the sort of environment within which you currently work.

“We know that we face widespread insecurity around the country, but the press particularly faces a disproportionate amount of attacks,” he said.

The lawmaker said it is the constitutional right of journalists to safeguard democracy, but sadly they are faced with widespread security challenges in the country.

Mr Rotimi also raised concerns about funding and professionalism in the media industry. He expressed dissatisfaction with how social media is used by influencers, celebrities and bloggers to disseminate fake information.

He said it is the responsibility of the media to ensure that information is properly disseminated.

According to him, because anyone can act as a publisher, editor, or in any related capacity, this raises concerns about the lack of professionalism and adherence to ethical standards in the field.

Additionally, he said there is a significant issue with the dissemination of information through platforms that may promote various agendas.

While noting that press freedom is important, Mr Rotimi however, said the challenges in the industry must also be acknowledged as anyone, including celebrities, spreads false information through various media platforms and tarnishes reputations without consequences.

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