…as Speaker wins award for contribution to a free press
By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that all Nigerians, whether in government or as professionals, must rededicate themselves to the protection of democracy.
He also said all Nigerians must see nation-building as a ‘joint task,’ saying each Nigerian has a critical role to play to achieve the best vision for the country.
Gbajabiamila was speaking on Wednesday night in Abuja at the 2021 Press Freedom Awards organised by the national body of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The speaker, who delivered the keynote address of the night, spoke on the topic, ‘Press Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance.’
Speaker Gbajabiamila stated, “Our democracy has survived twenty-two long years, but we cannot take it for granted. We are at this moment buffeted by ill wind on all sides.
“Our highest task, our most pressing ambition for which there are no other alternatives, is the protection of this democracy. If we fail in this regard, nothing else will matter, nothing else we do will count in our favour when the tally of history is settled.
“We have it in our power to improve our nation’s future and leave this world better than we found it. So, let us do that together.”
The speaker, represented by the Deputy House Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason, supported the promotion of free press and free expression, noting that these were “fundamental safeguards of our democracy.”
Gbajabiamila also said he backed journalists in practising their profession by holding those in government to account.
However, he advised that in doing so, journalists must be truly professional by reporting the truth always, as against the growing trend in certain media outfits of reporting falsehoods.
He added, “You can only live up to this responsibility when you commit to the vigorous pursuit of elusive truths, and dedicate yourselves to the service of paramount principles.
“Unfortunately, a number of those who practice journalism in our country have failed and are failing to live up to the responsibility imposed by the power you hold.
“Far from giving voice to the aspirations of our nation, or holding the powerful properly to account, much of journalism in Nigeria has become an endless pursuit of clickbait through the careless writing of falsehoods and malicious publication of half-truths.”