Nigeria’s democracy under threat, and how – Editors Guild

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) says journalists and journalistic practices are facing attacks from the government, thereby putting the country’s democracy under threat.

Mustapha Isah, the guild’s president, stated this in his official statement marking this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

“There is an urgent need to protect the media; because the impact of the suffocating economic and political environment being created by the government will be very dangerous to our democracy.

“A threat to the media is a threat to our democracy,” Isah said.

“Governments at all levels must take the lead in making sure that their actions do not inspire violations of press freedom.”

The guild said it is worried that elected leaders, who should be dependable protectors of press freedom, have made several overt attempts to silence the media voices through proposed legislations – that clearly seek to criminalise journalism practice in the country.

The statements also said that “a democratic society like Nigeria should know that it has a crucial role to play in maintaining media freedom and facilitating access to public information.”

“We need to remind governments at all levels in Nigeria that a free and independent media that can keep the people informed and hold leaders accountable, is essential for a strong and sustainable democracy, including free and fair elections.

“Without it, Nigerians cannot make informed decisions about how they are governed; and address human rights abuses, corruption and abuse of power.”

“Government should regularly take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom — this should include speaking out against violence against journalists and authorities’ failure/refusal to identify and prosecute attackers,” the Guild added.

The NGE also called on the federal government to make newsprints, broadcast equipment and all other consumables in the media sector tax free, in order to save the media from total collapse.

While saluting journalists, pro-media rights groups and others who have remained resolute in the defence of press freedom and independent press in the country, the NGE said that its ongoing Town Hall Meeting and Capacity Training Programme for editors in the six geo-political zones – being sponsored by the US Embassy in Nigeria — have also provided a huge opportunity to remind its members about the ethical values of journalism practice and the need to strictly adhere to those values.



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