I am delighted to be part of this gathering of media practitioners on this very important National occasion, organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to celebrate the 2022 World Press Freedom Day.
2. Please permit me to commend the efforts of all stakeholders who collaborated with the Ministry to organise this workshop. I particularly thank the NCC, Ministry of Water Resources and some Parastatals under the Ministry for their commitment to this noble course. Our doors remain open to such mutual collaborations in order to achieve our collective goals.
3. I must again use this medium to appreciate UNESCO for its consistency in ensuring that the freedom and safety of Journalists remain sacrosanct.
4. This year’s theme, “Journalism under Digital Siege,” beams the searchlight on a key aspect of press freedom; the vulnerability of data brought about by developments in the technological sector. It spotlights the ways in which recent developments in surveillance by state and non-state actors as well as artificial intelligence impact journalism, freedom of expression and privacy. This theme is very germane to the current threat plaguing the sector and affecting the ability of Journalists and practitioners in related fields to freely and effectively use information for public good.
5. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains the fundamental human right as the right to freedom of opinion and expression without interference. This fundamental human right is a key aspect of democracy all over the world and has over the years shaped the development of many countries.
6. The need to also ensure the safety of Journalists and equip them for the dynamic and ever-changing technologies cannot be over-emphasized. We must know that the tangible cord that links the source and the receiver, or in this case the reporter and the audience, is the truth which, in this context, means timely and undistorted information disseminated in good faith and with the general intent of improving society.
7. There is no doubt that the sanctity of professionalism in the media industry in the past few years has been threatened by the malevolent use of technology to distort and even subvert pure journalistic efforts. Let me therefore use this opportunity to call on all Journalists to join hands with us to checkmate the activities of quacks, who are tarnishing the profession.
8. Just this past Tuesday, I was at a UNESCO event organised for Judges on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Judges. I reiterated the huge pain I feel when I hear of journalists being attacked or slain in the line of duty. I therefore urged our Lordships to ensure swift judgement for those found guilty of these heinous acts, so that the family and friends of the deceased can take solace in the fact that justice had been duly served.
9. As I have consistently said, the media has nothing to fear from the federal government, because we see media practitioners as partners in progress, rather than as adversaries.
10. You may wish to know that Journalists belonging to public and private media organisations have, under our watch, benefitted from symposia and workshops designed to optimize their abilities and broaden the range of their skill set. Let me assure you that we will not relent in our effort to ensure that our media practitioners are in tune with global best practices in their field.
11. May I call on you, great members of the fourth estate of the realm, to always verify sources of information at your disposal, since we are in the era of citizen journalism, where anyone could hide behind their electronic gadgets to send unverified and mostly fake news. The urgent need for every media organisation to set up a fact-checking desk can therefore not be over stressed.
12. Before I conclude, I would like to seize this opportunity to remind our colleagues that we Nigeria is hosting the Global Media and Information Literacy Week Feature Conference and Youth Forum 2022. It will hold from the 24th -31 of October 2022 in Abuja. The event is expected to have over 73 countries from around the World participating physically in Nigeria. We seek your collaboration in this regard, as we will continually brief you as preparation unfolds
13.Finally, this institutional interactive workshop is organised with the hope that it will further enhance the efforts of the government to domesticate global initiatives and transfer knowledge towards the improved output in the nation’s Information sector.
13. Thank you for your time.