President Muhammadu Buhari has admonished the Nigerian media to note the fact that freedom of the press does not mean everything is permitted.
He has therefore urged them to avoid incendiary words in informing, educating and entertaining their audiences.
President Buhari made the declaration on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, observed globally every May 3.
A statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity) on Sunday expressed the president’s recommitment to freedom to the press, and urged media professionals to wield freedom responsibly, and without licentiousness.
It said while celebrating the landmark day with the media, the president noted that freedom of the press is “an irreducible minimum in a democracy that would flourish, adding that freedom must, however, be used responsibly.”
It quoted Buhari as saying: “That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness, particularly in a polity seriously challenged as ours now.”
“The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided.
“The media needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage incendiary words and actions that could further hurt our unity in diversity.”
According to the statement, the president said, “licentious freedom is different from freedom with responsibility, and charges the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.”
On the part of the government, President Buhari pledged greater cooperation with the media to discharge its duties, in line with the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, ‘Information as a Public Good.’
He charged those who manage information for government to do everything in the public interest, while also encouraging the media to use the Freedom of Information Act available to make its jobs easier.
The president submitted that it is very vital to have access to reliable information in an era of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech, all to cause discord in society.