Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has urged politicians and public office holders not to gag the media, saying press freedom was important in a democracy.
He made the appeal on Thursday at a workshop organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), themed: “Journalist and Digitalisation: the imperative of Good Corporate Governance” at Ikeja, Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu, who was the Special Guest of Honour to declare the workshop open, said ensuring good corporate governance and self-regulation of the digital space would completely eradicate false and fake news.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who assured that his administration will continue to promote Press Freedom and good corporate governance as well as enabling environment for journalists in the state, urged media practitioners to always regulate their activities in the digital space.
His words: “I stand with you (media practitioners) in solidarity; to say that, indeed, your profession is not just a noble one, but it’s the one that gives the general public an independent assessment; holding our governance and government accountable at all times. And so, we need to be very careful as politicians and public officers that we do not gag this profession (media) and do not unduly stifle free press.
“Our government understands and appreciates that press freedom is the way in which we can hold government accountable. But it is also the responsibility of all of us here to ensure that we understand the thin line; and also self-regulate our activities.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu while stressing the need for media practitioners to self-regulate themselves, urged them to work towards the complete eradication of fake and false news.
“Regarding my view about corporate governance, it is also to ensure that in the digital space we eradicate completely within the profession false news and fake news. People sometimes rush to post something without doing proper due diligence to verify what they are posting and ask themselves what damage would I do if they found out what I posted is not completely true.
“You must be a bit more circumspect and know that once information is out there, you cannot retrieve it. That in itself puts a lot of professional pressure on whoever that is posting any report,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu also seeks continuous support from the media for his administration. “I have enjoyed working with all of you and I am looking forward to enjoying more in the remaining part of my four years tenure. And if all of you feel so compelling during the election, I will also not mind being your governor again for another tenure,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isa, said the media would continue to do its job as the watchdog of the society, knowing fully that the people’s right to information is important and constitutionally guaranteed.
The NGE President, who urged media owners to embrace good corporate governance and accountability, said the role of scrutiny of the media should not be that of the government alone, adding that the media should not be threatened.
Isa said digital technology has provided room for journalists to become competitive and open sources of income.
Also speaking, a veteran journalist and the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Lanre Idowu, said digitalization had brought more opportunities to journalism but has equally brought to the fore the need to uphold ethics, and quality content.
He said journalists must decide whether to embrace digital platforms or be out of business.