The Federal Government has rejected the 2021 annual World Press Freedom Index that characterized Nigeria as a country not conducive to the practice of journalism.
Nigeria was ranked 120th, with a global score of 4.06.
The rejection was made known on Tuesday in Abuja, by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture. He had received the executive members of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI), who were on a courtesy visit to the Minister’s office.
In the statement released by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant To The President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was quoted as saying:
“I disagree with your assessment of press freedom under this government. Honestly, at times when I read what the media write here about Nigeria, I begin to wonder whether I live in the same country that they are writing about.”
The Minister said.
“I disagree vehemently with the assessment because it is unfounded and has no scientific basis. I have been the Minister (of Information and Culture) since 2015 so I know the state of press freedom in Nigeria,…”
He clarified that some people have misconstrued government’s efforts to ensure a responsible use of social media as an attempt to tamper with press freedom or threaten independent journalism, emphasizing that the government does not harbor such intentions.
Alhaji Mohammed reiterated that the present government is not a threat to the media, and that it is not about to stifle press freedom or deny anyone his or her constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
He further enjoined the media to always stick to their constitutional watchdog role, and not to constitute themselves into a political opposition.
He also charged IPI Nigeria to take seriously the issues of ethics, credibility and fake news, among others, in relation to the practice of journalism in the country.
He called for a sustained engagement between the government and the IPI in order to share views on how to enhance the practice of journalism in the country.
In his remarks, the President of IPI Nigeria, Mr. Mojeed, said the visit was part of a series of engagements with governmental and non-governmental organizations to enhance independent journalism and operating environment for journalists and media organizations in Nigeria.
Okay.ng has learnt.