Journalists in Abia State on Monday, May 3, joined their colleagues elsewhere to mark the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, with a pledge to always disseminate the truth at all times to their audience.
The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, to be celebrated on May 3, every year.
Chairman of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Victor Ndukwe gave credence to this year’s theme, “Information As A Public Good”, saying it is apt, especially in the face of the present security challenges confronting the nation.
Ndukwe said the event should serve as an opportunity to remind relevant stakeholders, including government at all levels, of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom, which entails free access to news sources and promoting the welfare of media practitioners, with a view to enhancing objectivity of the media.
The Abia NUJ chairman further used the event to drum support for the media and called on governments to take the lead by properly equipping government-owned media houses and ensure regular training and retraining of their staff.
He said with a good working environment, better incentive, availability of working tools and training, Nigeria journalists would spring surprises in their jobs.
Ndukwe stated that there is a dire need for all institutions in the country, especially the media, to be strengthened, so as to serve the public and not the good of powerful individuals.
He added that journalists should ensure that the media at all times, communicates the truth, promotes peace, justice and fairness to all, as it also constitute public good.
While wishing media practitioners an eventful celebration, the NUJ chairman, said it is imperative for public officers to make information available to all segments of the society so that all would be on the same page and eliminate mutual suspicion, stressing that this would go a long way in ensuring an inclusive society devoid of the current peddling of fake news, security challenges and discordant tunes in the country.
He, however, reminded journalists of the fundamental principle of press freedom, independence and the need to protect professionals and the media from attacks, giving special reference to those who have died in the cause of duty, those who suffer in one way or the other to bring timely, truthful and unbiased information to the society.
In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, disclosed that the government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, allows for press freedom and would continue to partner with the press in the state.
Kalu said that the governor may not have done much, but he has achieved what no other administration in Abia State has achieved, adding that the state has remained one of the safest states and most peaceful in Nigeria.
According to him, no journalist has been victimized or brutalized in the state, urging journalists to write positive reports of the state.
On his part, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Onyebuchi Ememanka, described the media as critical to the survival of democracy, saying no democracy thrives without free press and applauded the NUJ for their support to the state government.
In his lecture, the guest lecturer, Dr Sunny Mbazie, said the World Press Freedom Day is to create awareness to the world that freedom of the press and expression is a fundamental right that should be respected.