The United States Consul General, Mr John F. Bray, has hailed the Nigerian press, describing it as the voice of the voiceless.
Bray who spoke at an event in Lagos organised to mark the 2017 World Press Freedom Day, on Wednesday, said much of the success recorded by the country in the area of governance was due to the determination of journalists to unravel the truth often under difficult circumstances.
He said: “Before my arrival in Nigeria four years ago I had read about the courage and sheer doggedness of the Nigerian press in the dark days of military dictatorship. In my time here, I have seen that you are still the voice of the forgotten. You have not lost your thirst for the truth or your willingness to go wherever a story leads you, thereby contributing to transparency, accountability, and good governance in your country.”
Bray described as unfortunate the fact that about one third of the world’s population live in countries where there is no press freedom.
“Most of them are quasi democracies, with systemic deficiencies in the electoral process, or countries where there is no system of democracy at all. Working under such conditions, journalists risk everything to hold regimes accountable.”
He said the primary responsibility of journalists in a democracy is to keep government accountable, and described as apt this year’s theme of “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.”
He said: “In a democracy, the press has a duty to hold government leaders accountable to the people, holding up for scrutiny any abuses of power by elected officials. Their role as the government’s watchdog is key to the system of checks and balances that is fundamental to the smooth running of every democracy.”
The diplomat congratulated the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mrs Funke Egbemode, on her re-election.
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