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Tinubu’s Govt Has No Plan To Stifle Media – Minister

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Thursday said the Federal Government had no plan to stifle or control the media. He…

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Thursday said the Federal Government had no plan to stifle or control the media. He however stressed that media organizations needed to exercise a lot of responsibility.

Speaking in an interview on Channels TV, he said both the operators and regulators would need to work together and cultivate a harmonious relationship in the interest of the public.

Asked if media houses could operate confidently without being pressured by the government, the minister stated, “You can see that already; who has been pressured? Which broadcast station or newspaper has been pressured? Nobody has been pressured to do anything, but again it flows from the fact that you have to give people the truth.Nobody will be pressured.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a democrat, and he is a product of communication, why will he now say ‘don’t do it this way’. Nobody has been pressured and there is no intention whatsoever to do that.

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“The administration of Bola Tinubu is not interested in controlling the media. People should be allowed to say what they want to say responsibly, as long as your freedom does not also create a problem for others. The most important thing is that nobody is trying to gag or control anybody. What we are simply saying is that, do you work responsibly, so that your freedom does not also become a source of problem for the society.”

He described the challenges of fake social media abuse and fake news as a global menace, but that the government was addressing in its own way.

He added, “The social media issue and fake news are not just Nigerian problems, they are global problems. I have sat in conferences and seminars outside this country where the issue of fake news was discussed. We are dealing with it in our own way. But as it is, UNESCO is bringing out some kind of guidelines for social media, which all countries will adopt to check it.

“Much as we give freedom for people to say what they want to say, it is incumbent on them to know that the freedom comes with enormous responsibility. You don’t just say you want press freedom, it has to come with enormous responsibility.”

The minister said he was working hard to make Nigerians trust government communication, which he said almost broke down before now. He stressed that there was a need for fresh orientation.

He stated, “Over the years, there was a gradual erosion of values of Nigerians about their country. Many years ago, Nigerians seemed to believe in their country but over the years, it has become almost commonplace to see that people don’t believe in their own country, with the japa issue. Issues of nationalism and value orientation have all broken down, and so it’s important for the Bola Tinubu administration to do that, and the Ministry of Information and National Orientation is set to do just that.

“My first task is to rebuild that trust in government communication, and for Nigerians to believe in themselves and their leaders once again.”

The minister emphasized the need for government officials to be truthful and for the citizenry to trust their government.

On the pending transition from analog to digital broadcasting, known as DSO, the minister said it was unacceptable that DSO had not achieved more than 15 per cent of what it set out to achieve, considering the colossal amount of money invested.

He added, “We are trying to revisit that issue to make it work. DSO has to work. Countries that are not as endowed as this country have switched over, why shouldn’t we? I will tell Nigerians that within the next few years, DSO will work.”

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