© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
I WON’T RESTRICT THE PRESS – BUHARI
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday stated that his administration will not seek to interfere with press freedom, if elected President on March 28.
The APC presidential candidate, who gave the assurance during an interactive session with members of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, in Abuja stated that his administration would uphold the Nigerian constitution as sacrosanct.
“I want to give you my full assurances that in this democratic dispensation, I will ensure that the Nigerian constitution is upheld. This includes respect for the media, respect for the right to free expression and freedom of speech.
“I have said elsewhere that I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. Dictatorship goes with military rule as do edicts such as Decree 4,” the former military ruler said.
He reiterated that he might be a former military ruler but is now “a converted democrat, who is ready to operate under democratic norms”.
The APC presidential candidate also promised to continue to promote the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria by guaranteeing that the media’s freedom is not compromised in any way.
“I give you my full assurances that the Nigerian media will be free under our APC government,” he stated.
Urging media owners and editors to shun hate reports and slanderous political rhetorics, he also appealed to media stakeholders to use their outlets for the purpose of shaping positive public discourse while eschewing hate speech, fear-mongering and slanderous political rhetorics which heat up the polity.
Buhari said that the purpose of the meeting was to thank the Nigerian media “for the role you have played in advancing our country’s democracy” and “for being a platform through which Nigerians’ cry for change was articulated all around the world.”
“On newspaper pages, TV screens and radio waves, the alarming depth of corruption and impunity in our country, the terrifying level of insecurity, and the grim state of our economy were kept constantly before the world’s eyes, making it impossible for the current government to doctor the truth, despite their meanest efforts, the APC candidate observed.
He urged the media not to relent in playing its watchdogs role and to continue to be the voice of the people.
“The health of Nigeria’s democracy rests partly on you. Without a robust and thriving media, the masses would have no voice, ” he added.
Buhari also affirmed that change revolution is imminent in the country without firing a shot.
“Our country is on the verge of something new. The tide has turned and the world can sense the wave of change that is about to flood this nation. In less than two weeks, the Nigerian electorate will head to the polls to make their voices heard.
“Through the ballot, without a single shot fired, a change revolution will likely take place, he stated.
The presidential candidate answered questions from journalists present and was asked if he would apologise to the two journalists jailed under Decree 4 during his military regime.
However, he was prevented from answering by the director –general of the APC presidential campaign organization, Rotimi Amaechi, who said: “Gen. Buhari had already answered that question by saying he cannot change the past but he can change present and the future.”
Present at the session were the president of NPAN, Nduka Obaigbena; deputy president of NPAN, Kabiru Yusuf, the publisher of Vanguard Newspaper, Sam Amuka Pemu; a former President of NPAN, Ray Ekpu; the publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda Isaiah, the representative of the Guardian publisher, Toke Ibru, the managing director/ editor-In-chief of Champion Newspaper, Nwadiuto Iheakanwa; the publisher of Peoples Daily, Wada Maida; the publisher of Blueprint Newspaper, Idris Mohammed; a former president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Gbenga Adefaye; the managing director/ editor-In- chief of New Telegraph, Eric Osagie; the chairman of Liberty Radio, Tijjani Ramalan; and the chairman of Silverbird Television, Ben Murray Bruce.