FG assures journalists of protection, support

The Federal Government has assured journalists of protection of their rights and support in their mission to protect the environment as the World celebrates the Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, gave the assurance in Abuja on Friday at a news conference to mark the event. The conference with the theme, 'A Press for the Planet: Journalism in Face of the Environment Crisis' was organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management, Dr Iziaq Adekunle Salako and The UNESCO Country Representative, Mr Abdourahamane Diallo featured at the briefing. Also present was the Special Assistant to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga. 'This crisis poses a threat not only to our planet but to the very future of humanity. 'Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and others are harsh realities that demand immediate and decisive action. 'It is our conviction that Press freedom (PF) is not just a fundamental human right; it is also essential for environmental sustainability. 'Without a free and independent press, we cannot hope to address the complex environmental challenges we face', he said. According to Idris, in the face of this crisis, newsmen were guardians of truth and champions of accountability. 'They illuminate environmental injustices, expose wrongdoing, and amplify the voices of those most affected by environmental degradation. 'The 2024 theme resonates deeply with our ministry's vision and President Bola Tinubu's priority areas, which prioritise restoring trust, reorienting national values, and creating an enabling environment for the media. 'We also acknowledge the challenges that journalists face in carrying out their vital work. 'As environmental defenders, journalists often confront threats, harassment, and violence for their courageous efforts to expose the environment. 'I wish t o reassure you of our continued commitment to tirelessly promote the tenets of PF as well as supporting journalists in their mission to protect our planet,' Idris said. He urged stakeholders to redouble their efforts to build a future where journalism would thrive, PF upheld, and planet earth safeguarded for generations to come. He further reaffirmed the Federal Government's unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of journalists and ensuring their safety and security. He said that the federal government has provided the most unfettered access to journalists and the enabling environment that had continued to encourage the Nigeria media to grow in leaps and bounds in recent years. In the same vein, Salako said environmental crises were so intense and gargantuan that they were at the core of most of the challenges faced by humanity. 'Ignorance, lack of awareness and appropriate knowledge about the climate crisis is still rampant in our society. 'I call upon you, our dear friends in the media for mor e support in our drive for environmental advocacy and citizenship, so that all creatures on earth thrive in harmony with the planet. 'The press and journalists constitute the framework for informing, educating, stimulating discussion, mobilising and setting the agenda for the public who are the employers of the government. 'Therefore, we must remain persistent in our advocacy, awareness creation, sensitisation and educating the public,' Salako said. Onanuga on his part said it was regrettable that newsmen in the country did not focus enough energy on reporting the environment and urged them to start aggressive reports on the environment and climate change to save it. Meanwhile, Diallo commended Idris, Salako, Onanuga and the Nigerian media, adding that the WPFD was a reminder for all governments and stakeholders to respect their commitments to press freedom. 'It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of PF and professional ethics. 'It is a day which celebrates the fundamental principles of PF to evaluate it around the world to defend the media from attacks. 'It is also a day to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of their profession,' Diallo said. Source: News Agency of Nigeria