Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has urged the Nigerian electorate to vote the right people into positions of authority, to salvage the country from its current challenges.
Amaechi, who was a Special Guest of Honour at the 2022 World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Uyo on Tuesday, urged Nigerians to always hold politicians accountable, for the country to move forward.
The minister, a presidential aspirant on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), warned journalists against publishing news items that could malign public officers.
“The problem of the country is not the poor man in Akwa Ibom or Rivers; it is not the poor man in the South East or in the North. It is you and I, the elites.
“Why you are hearing restructuring and restructuring every time is because the elites’ consensus on sharing (the resources) is disappearing; it’s because there is nothing to share again because we are broke.
“The problem facing this country is caused by the elites, including you,” he said.
Amaechi urged media practitioners to join hands and resolve the nation’s problems through objective, balanced and fair reportage, stressing: “freedom comes with responsibility.”
In his lecture at the occasion, Dr Jones Ayuwo, of University of Port Harcourt, said that without press freedom, democracy cannot work.
Ayuwo, who spoke on the topic: “Journalism Under Digital Siege,” said that journalists, who are members the Fourth Estate of the Realm, were not just the moulders of the society, but also, the watchdogs.
He, however, described the relationship between the media and the government as cat-and-mouse, adding that until the former had oftentimes allowed itself to be cajoled, used and manipulated by the latter.
“We must stand against any attempt by government to regulate the internet because if it is regulated, we also are regulated.
“If we are regulated, the freedom of the press is regulated. If press freedom is regulated, then our democracy is in imminent danger.
“Therefore, I urge us to stand against every attempt from all corners to hamper free press, as we celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
“However, it is also important to reawaken you all to your social responsibility, as you go about your enviable duty of news gathering and reportage. This way, we will be able to curb the digital siege on the press,” Ayuwo said.
In his remarks, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom council, Mr Amos Etuk, said that the union would continue to update members on new developments through periodic lectures and workshops.
This, he said, would not only make them to be alive to their professional responsibilities, but would also sharpen their instincts to protect themselves and their families.
“We must join hands with other freedom-loving people all over the world to urge governments at all levels to give journalists the space to practise their profession and ensure liberty for all,” Etuk said.
It was reported that this year’s press freedom day celebration has, as its theme: “Journalism Under Surveillance.”