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We’ll always uphold media freedom, respect divergent views, Tinubu tells NPAN

President Bola Tinubu says his administration will always uphold media freedom and respect opinions, whether they are adversarial or complimentary to his government.

The President made the pledge on Monday in Abuja during a meeting with members of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN).

President Tinubu assured NPAN members that he would carefully consider their request for a review of policies affecting the paper industry, acknowledging concerns about existing regulations hindering local access to newsprint.

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Speaking on the challenges faced by travellers during the festive season, the President said the federal government is taking measures to alleviate the high cost of transportation by granting waivers to operators in the air, road, and rail transportation systems.

He also said steps are being taken to reduce the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

”I care about what is going on in the country. I thank you for your support and opinions, even the criticism of our government. Without the support of some of you, I will not be standing here as president.

“You have held our feet to the fire, and we will continue to respect your opinions whether we agree or not. One thing I must say is that I read every paper, various opinions, and columnists,’’ the President said.

President Tinubu said his administration will remain steadfast in “reinvigorating, retooling and re-engineering the economy,” citing bold decisions by his administration to end the petrol subsidy regime and initiate the ongoing unification of foreign exchange rates.

A statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) quoted Tinubu as saying, ”I promise you a very transparent government. We will try our best to draw water from a dry well and create a good economic environment that will serve the people. The future of our country is clear with committed investments in health, infrastructure, transportation, and education, among others. We have to take care of the poor. If we invest in our own children and leave the children of the poor, the children of neglect will attack your investments,” he said.

In his remarks, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and responsible media landscape in the country.

”Our democracy thrives on the principles of transparency, accountability, and the free flow of information. The role of the media, particularly the newspapers, is paramount in upholding these principles,” the Minister said.

Commending NPAN for providing a platform for national discourse and for diverse voices, the Minister implored the association to collaborate with the Tinubu administration through effective dialogue, advancing shared values, and addressing challenges confronting the nation.

Mr. Kabiru Yusuf, NPAN president and chairman of Media Trust, owners of the Daily Trust Newspapers and Trust Television, while congratulating President Tinubu on his election victory and Supreme Court affirmation, raised pressing concerns facing the newspaper industry.

”Our particular concern is the newspaper industry, which employs thousands of Nigerians: journalists, marketers, distributors, administrators, accountants. Newspapers are also part of the building blocks of democracy and reliable sources of information in a world that is overwhelmed by fake news,” he said.

Meanwhile, In line with the resolution of the All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC), recently held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) plans to launch Nigerian Editors Trust Fund, which is designed to address the professional/welfare needs of media houses and editors in Nigeria.

At the ANEC in Akwa Ibom State, publishers, media executives and editors harped on the urgent need by the Guild to initiate strategic move that will focus on the professional/welfare needs of media houses and editors in Nigeria – as part of several efforts to help them to continue to discharge their constitutional and social responsibility to the society without necessarily compromising their ethical standards.

In a statement issued on Monday by the President of the NGE, Mr Eze Anaba and the General Secretary, Dr Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the professional body of editors and media executives, stated that the initiative is a response to the increasing professional/welfare challenges faced by the highest echelon of Nigerian journalists in performing their duties.

‘’The trust fund, which is expected to be launched in the first quarters of 2024, will also address the daunting economic challenges that the media executives and editors are faced with during and after office. The fund will benefit the Guild’s members in the print, electronic and online media.

‘’The trust fund will be a collaborative effort among all the stakeholders in the media sector, including the public sector – aimed at addressing key challenges that affect the professionals, who are the ultimate gatekeepers in their media organisations’’, the Guild added.

The Guild, at its annual conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State recently, set up a committee headed by its Vice-President (East), Mr. Sheddy Ozoene, to liaise with media stakeholders and coordinate the launching of the outfit in the first quarter of next year.

According to the statement, ‘’The trust fund will create the much-desired impact in the journalism profession in the country as the editors and media executives will be exposed to empowerment programms and innovations in the media industry, retraining and networking opportunities with colleagues from around the world.’’

The Guild added that the trust fund, which will be managed by trustees made up of eminent personalities from within and outside the media, will be a fallback cushion for media executives and editors in critical situations, and a source of addressing their welfare needs as well as funding for key media projects that will impact Nigeria’s democracy, good governance and national development.

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