President Muhammadu Buhari should improve his relationship with the media to guarantee a robust democracy. This admonition was contained in a press statement signed by a media practitioner, Emmanuel Bello.
The statement reads in part: “I was really delighted to hear the president saying he’s proud of the Nigerian media. He should be. The media practically ensured he became president. But beyond this, the media has been carrying out its duties from pre colonial times to date by safe guarding freedom, protecting democratic values and speaking out against oppression. The president must not stop at just being proud of the media. He must now do the harder job of protecting it. And although he picked Channels TV as his media of choice, he must acknowledge the role the entire media, big or small is playing in protecting our democracy and fine tunning its institutions.”
Bello, a former Editor, decried what he described as the attempt to muzzle freedom of speech. He said, “I see a certain attempt at regressing into military style intolerance of media scrutiny. Democracy is a full package and it comes with freedom of speech. You can’t pick one and leave the other. That face-off between Premium Times and the military, for instance, is totally uncalled for and the international community watching must be wondering what’s going on. I’m alarmed at how the hounding is building up. Anything whispered on even WhatsApp platforms is scrutinised. Someone, it seems, is trying to frieghten Nigerians into silence.”
Bello, who is currently the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Governor Darius Ishaku, said the president’s media handlers should always try and bridge the gap between their principal and practitioners. “A situation where the president talk down at reporters at the airport is archaic. By now he should know some of the State House reporters by name like we see in other climes. The media aides shouldn’t forget where they came from.”