No good governance without press freedom – Saraki

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President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on
Friday stated that there can be no good governance in any country where press
Freedom is not guaranteed.

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Saraki made the statement in a goodwill message to a one day
conference marking the 2019 World Press Freedom Day organized by the Premium
Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and the European Union’s Rule
of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

The theme of the conference was: “Press Freedom in Nigeria —
the Rule of Law, Media and Violent Extremism.”

The President of the Senate who was represented by the Deputy
Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Philip Aduda, stated that the 8th Senate
valued the media as crucial partners in the quest to build a stronger and more
vibrant democracy.

“We do appreciate that we cannot deliver good governance
without a free press, and we are always available to work in tandem with the
media to ensure a democratic society that serves us all.

“Clearly, if we truly wish to grow and preserve our
democracy, we must understand that a free and pluralistic media environment
that guarantees access to information is non-negotiable.

“When citizens have information, they are able to make
informed choices due to the diversity of their viewpoints. When we have such a
society, when citizens are not only well-informed but are free to express their
valid opinions — without fear or prejudice — it is only then that we can truly
say we are practising true democracy.

“This is because democracy has at its foundation the freedom
of the press, which in turn promotes good governance, accountability and respect
for human rights.

“The urgency of this is reflected in Nigeria’s ranking on
the Global Press Freedom Index of 2019, where we are ranked 120 out of 180
countries.

“One step lower than our standing in 2018. In fact other
pointers would include the incidence of detention of journalists in this
country,” he stated.

He thanked the Chief Executive of PTCIJ, Mr. Dapo
Olorunyomi, for inviting him to the event, which presented an opportunity to
reaffirm the power and responsibility of the media, and to recommit to the
ideals of a free and independent press.

“It also serves as an occasion to reiterate that this power
of the press comes with a great responsibility: to be the watchdogs that tell
the stories that protect, defend and preserve our democracy; and hold leaders
to account,” he stated.

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