The Vice President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) South-East Zone, Comrade Stella Igboka has felicitated with women Journalists as it marks the 2021 World Press Freedom Day
She called on Media stakeholders to renew their commitment to the fundamental rights to freedom of expression to defend media workers.
Comrade Igboka who made this call in her message to this year’s Press Freedom Day celebration in Awka observed with dismay challenges experienced in the media profession due to the COVID -19 pandemic, insecurity and economic recession which had led to the closure of media houses, constant attack, harassment and maiming of reporters in the course of carrying out their legitimate assignments.
She made a passionate appeal to government and media owners to address the gender dimensions of the safety of journalists by offering women journalists specialised safety training in the face of these contemporary challenges
Comrade Igboka opined that If journalists face harassment, violence and threats, Women in the PEN Profession face additional risks due to their gender
She described this year’s World Press Freedom theme, “Information as a Public Good” as apt, especially now that the public is battling with discerning verified information from falsehoods that have flooded the internet
Comrade Igboka called on journalists to live up to their responsibility of ensuring that they clear their sources of information, verify facts and data as well as uphold their professional ethics in their reportage and conduct.
In the same vein, (NAWOJ) Anambra state chapter commended women Journalists in the state for their dedication to duty and commitment towards ensuring that the public is fed with accurate and timely information of events as they unfold despite the ravaging effects of the Coronavirus pandemic which poses a serious threat.
Comrade Franklin Onyekachi, the Anambra State NAWOJ Chairperson while addressing members enjoins everyone to bear in mind the theme for this year’s event, ‘Information as a public good’ in carrying out their duties as the watchdogs of the society without fear but always bearing in mind the ethics of our profession.
“2021 being an election year in the state, I call on all members to shun fake news and unverified reports so as not to cause disharmony or chaos,” she reiterated.
NAWOJ Anambra also lauded the state government for its continued cooperation while soliciting more support.
Philanthropist Calls For Total Press Freedom
Meanwhile, a front-runner of the Peoples Democratic Party gubernatorial aspirant, business mogul and philanthropist, Valentine Ozigbo, has hailed the Nigerian press as critical in developing the country and Nigeria’s democracy.
In a statement marking World Press Day, issued from his office in Udoka Estate, Awka, the capital of Anambra State, on Monday, May 3, 2021, Mr Ozigbo called for total press freedom in the country while describing the media as “The defenders of our democracy.“
An international finance expert, Ozigbo, the immediate Past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, called for strategic institutional investment in the media, stressing the importance of the media in nation-building.
“Today, I celebrate the Nigerian press for their resilience and commitment to the professional and the development of Nigeria,” Ozigbo said.
“Our journalists operate under some of the harshest work conditions in the world, yet they continue to play their role in building Nigeria and growing our democracy.
“I commend the Nigerian press for staying strong, sticking to their commitment, and defending the nation while many other institutions in the country have caved.
“Any nation that wishes to progress must guarantee the free flow of information is essential that the threats and clampdown on journalists immediately stopped.
“Rather than censorship, governments should be entering into partnerships with the media by strategically investing in strengthening and equipping the press to carry out its responsibilities of informing, educating, and enlightening Nigerians,” the business leader said.
Ozigbo, who is regarded as the frontrunner in the PDP for the upcoming Anambra governorship elections, reiterated his belief in the power of the press and the need for open governments.
He called on the federal government to respect the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and revealed his plan to send a Freedom of Information bill to his State House of Assembly if elected as the governor of Anambra State.
Ozigbo promised that if elected governor of Anambra State, he would set a new standard for how governments should engage and partner with the press to advance society and deepen the democratic process.
“Open government is a major aspect of my Ka Anambra Chawapu Manifesto. I believe in expanding access to information for citizens and leveraging on technology to bring government closer to the people,” Ozigbo declared.
“If I am elected governor of Anambra, I will send a freedom of information bill to my state legislature for action. Information is power, and it is time our people are given access to power in a meaningful way,” he added.
Ozigbo also called on the Nigerian press to take proactive steps in improving standards of practice, upskilling journalists and media practitioners and seeking private sector investment into the media space.
Source: Voice of Nigeria