The Institute for Media and Society (IMS) has called for conducive environment for journalism in Nigeria.
The institute through its Executive Director, Dr. Akin Akingbulu made this known on Tuesday in a statement to mark 2021 World Press Freedom.
In the statement, IMS declared that the practice of journalism has been badly confronted with restrictions, and also called for the need for professionally processed and credible information by all sections of the population, adding that citizens require information that are relevant to the daily issues of their individual lives and communities as well as those of governance in their societies.
The statement reads: “The media require conducive environment to be able to deliver on their expected roles, such as informing, educating and advocating for the public and in holding government accountable to the people.
“Unfortunately, the practice of journalism has been confronted with restrictions across the world. According to reports, in 2020 alone, 50 journalists were reportedly killed worldwide. In Nigeria, the past year has witnessed widespread attacks on journalists perpetrated through arrest and detentions, assaults, damage of professional equipment, denial of salaries and dismissal from work, among others,” IMS said.
The IMS hinted that involvement of the state governments and their agents in violating journalists’ rights has made International Organization Reporters San Frontiers(RSF) to rank Nigeria 120 out of 180 countries of the world in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index, thus, making the country the worst country to practice as a journalist in West Africa.
“Significantly, the involvement of the state governments and their agents in the violation of journalists’ rights has acquired prominence during this period. No wonder that an international organization Reporters Sans Frontiers, RSF, in its report, indicated that Nigeria ranked 120 out of 180 countries of the world in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index. Added to this was the report that Nigeria has become the worst country to practice as a journalist in West Africa,” IMS added.
The institute also said that condition of the media has also been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with manifestation in downturn of media businesses across the country, revealing that, media managers struggle to keep business afloat under and unfavorable operational climate, and that media business organizations, journalists and other media workers have seriously suffered from plummeting revenues, job losses and other problems.
Worried by the situation, the Institute for Media and Society , therefore, made the following recommendations to all stakeholders to do the needful:
• The federal government has the obligation under the Nigerian constitution and various international instruments on the rights of the media, hence it should respect the rights of journalists and the media, protect them in performing their professional duties, investigate violations of their rights and bring violators to justice.
• Governors of each of the 36 states have important roles to play. We call on the Nigerian Governors Forum to engage its members so as to reverse the growing trend of governors violating the rights of journalists.
• Media proprietors and managers should continue to explore innovative management mechanisms that will advance sustainability of their various media platforms and enhancement of journalists’ welfare.
• Training Institutions should, in collaboration with regulators, proprietors, and managers design and implement media and information literacy programmes for media and citizen groups.
• Journalists should remain resolute in their commitment to professionalism, expansion of the frontiers of expression and keeping journalism in the service of democracy.