OBAJI ABUNG-AKPET, Calabar
The governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, now runs away from journalists to the extent that he now avoids to be with them on World Press Freedom Day.
Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Cross River State, Jude Okoro, who stated this, said since Ayade assumed office as governor; the state has recorded pockets of abuses by overzealous government security aides on journalists with numbers rising to the tune of four. The height of these abuses was meted on Okokon Okpanyang, veteran journalist and correspondent with Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).
Journalists’ security amid other welfare issues in the state has left media practitioners feeling badly neglected.
Recently, the State Information Commissioner, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, visited practitioners of the media industry of the state at the Ernest Etim Press Centre, Calabar on Wednesday as part of World Press Freedom Day in order to engage them on issues bordering their welfare.
Archibong described the situation where media practitioners come under attack while carrying out their duties as not only “unfortunate,” but a “recurring decimal” that must be condemned in strong terms.
The information commissioner sued for a well-functioning legal and regulatory environment by which rights, especially rights to free press can be upheld.
“We join our voices in condemning these inhuman acts and call for restraints from all concerned while suing for the co-operation of governments around the world for the creation of a free press society where freedom of expression and freedom of information is truly guaranteed including welfare for journalists and other media workers in general,” Archibong said.
He assured that Cross River Government would do all in its power to ensure that journalists in the state are well catered for.
On his part state chairman of NUJ, Mr. Victor Odu said this year’s press freedom day with the theme ‘critical minds, for critical times: media role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive society’ should be an occasion to drum even louder the fundamental principles of press freedom as a wakeup call on government to make deliberate policies that will drive the independence of the media.
According to him: “Journalists must use this occasion to drum even louder the fundamentals and principles of press freedom; remind government to make deliberate policies to defend the media from attacks on independence.”
“We call on government to help strengthen the press and quality journalism so as to effectively contribute to the achievements of sustainable development goals.”
For a better society