Press freedom in Nigeria severely abused – Yero

Mukhtar Ramalan yeroGovernor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State on Monday lamented that press freedom in the country has led to character assassination of perceived opponents.

Yero, who made this view known in a message he sent to commemorate the 2015 World Press Freedom Day, argued that the once noble profession has been contaminated and cited examples to back up his claim.

The theme of the 2015 World Press Freedom Day is “Let journalism thrive towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in digital age”.

The event was organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists in collaboration with UNESCO and the Nigerian Press Council.

The outgoing governor regretted that rather than journalism being the noble profession, it had given ways to all manners of practices which, he believed, negate the basic tenets of democracy in the country.

Though he praised the courage, tenacity and sacrifice the world over, the governor noted that journalism was fast becoming “politics” in the country where, neither credentials nor criteria were required for the practice.

Yero said, “The freedom of the press we are talking about today in our country has become so free that the virtue of the profession has given way to all manner of practices.

“The journalism profession in Nigeria today is fast becoming like the Nigeria politics, where no credentials are required for participation and no criteria for recruitment.

“What we saw from the press in the build up to the 2015 general elections, particularly from the electronic and social media, was a demonstration of how fragile and dangerous freedom of the press is fast becoming in Nigeria.

“In the build up to the 2015 general elections, the press became so free and insensitive to the extent that leaders were called by their names and insulted.

“Nearly every journalist and every media house had their candidates or political parties and abuses; insults and character assassination became the order of the day and even the NBC, that was supposed to be the referee in all the matches, could not blow a single whistle throughout the matches in the build up to the elections.

“I am tempted to say that in no distant time, some media houses may not be able to send their reporters to some government houses of the Villa in Abuja because of their posture on some candidates or political parties before the elections.

“The press world over is known to be a voice for the voiceless and it is also a temple where the rich, the poor, the strong and the weak, men and women run for cover.

“But imagine what will happen to our world if we allow this noble profession to become contaminated.