Lagos, 05 May 2015. The Director of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, has called on stakeholders to allow journalism to thrive. ‘Journalism’ he continued, ‘could only thrive when stakeholders, including government, civil society and media practitioners redouble efforts to enhance safety of journalists.
Mr Kayanja who spoke at the World Press Freedom Day observance organized by UNIC Lagos in collaboration with Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) and the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, noted that the observance was to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom worldwide and remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.
Presenting the joint message of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN); Irina Bokova, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, the UNIC Lagos Director noted that for peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected and everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.
Mr Kayanja added that ‘quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.’
In his overview of the 2015 theme, ‘Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age’, the Chairman of Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) Prof Lai Oso, noted a growing influence of commercialization and concentration of media enterprise ownership, which in a way impacts upon the independence and quality of journalism on all platforms.
He stated that media ownership and control remain one of the challenges of independent journalism in Nigeria, citing the way some media organisations reported political activities during the just concluded general elections in the country.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Centre of Excellence, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof Ralph Akinfeleye reflected on the issues of press freedom and safety of journalists. He enjoined everyone to renew efforts to end impunity and safeguard safety of journalists. ‘Freedom of expression and press freedom’, he continued, ‘are components of good governance and sustainable development.
Other speakers included the Online Editor of ‘The Nation’, Mr Lekan Otufodunrin who made a presentation on ‘Independent Journalism in the Digital Age’; the Acting Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy (Gender, Media and the Beijing Declaration); Dr Olunifesi Suraj (Towards better digital safety for journalists and their sources) and Dr Fassy Yusuf (FOI Implementation and Challenges).