World Press Freedom Day: FG Promised to Allow Press Freedom

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Friday said the present administration has not in any way violated press freedom, assuring Nigerians that this would continued to be maintained

Idris while claiming that the media is largely free in Nigeria, boasted that no single journalist has been incarcerated under the Tinubu administration till date.

Speaking at a press briefing organized by his ministry in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management, and the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO), to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Idris noted however that spreading falsehood and misinformation is irresponsible journalism, and anyone that falls foul of this cannot asked for freedom or be shielded from prosecuted under the need for press freedom.

Also with him at the press briefing are  Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management, Dr. Iziaq Salako; Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe; Head UNESCO Office Abuja, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo.

The Information Minister said “I have not seen somebody in the life of this administration, for example, who has been put in jail or who has gone into exile as a result of violation of press freedom.  

“We knew what has happened in this country in the past. Some decades ago, we know that you have to leave this country to be able to report. I can tell you that the press in Nigeria is largely free but that freedom will further be consolidated if honesty and transparency are upheld in the manner that we report,” he said.

He noted that the President recognizes the importance of responsible media coverage in enlightening, informing, and educating Nigerians and the world, adding that through credible and timely information, everyone can be well-informed, and the media can serve as a valuable tool for fostering transparency and accountability.

“As a Ministry and Government, we provided the most unfettered access to Journalists and provided the enabling environment that has continued to encourage the Nigerian media to grow in leaps and bounds.”

He also said as President Tinubu strives to position Nigeria as an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment, the media must present a positive and accurate portrayal of the country to the international community.

While speaking on this year’s theme of World Press Freedom Day, ‘’A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of Environmental Crisis,” Idris said the world is confronted by an environmental crisis of unprecedented magnitude, one that poses a threat not only to the planet but to the very future of humanity. 

He said climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and resource depletion are not abstract concepts but harsh realities that demand immediate and decisive action toward public mobilization and sensitization.

“It is our conviction, that Press freedom is not just a fundamental human right; it is also essential for environmental sustainability. Without a free and independent press, we cannot hope to address the complex environmental challenges we face.

“Disinformation and misinformation undermine public understanding of environmental issues and hinder our ability to take meaningful action. Therefore, we must staunchly defend press freedom and support the work of journalists who are dedicated to reporting the truth,” he said. 


 On his part, the Minister of Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako, said what is needed now in the face of intense environmental challenge is a “Press for the Planet.”

Salako however said that the government is promoting nature based solutions in battling climate change and other environmental challenges through tree planting, mangroove restoration, urban greening and restoring wetlands.

He added that: “A press for the planet at this point in time is therefore most needed if we are to get the public behind  global and natiinal agenda like net zero, energy transition, biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, 30 by 30, ending plastic pollution and such other pathways set forth to address the environmental crisis 

"At the forefront of our efforts to combat the environmental crisis in our country are Nigeria's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), our Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy, our commitment to achieving net zero emissions and our framework for biodiversity conservation.

“These commitments outline our path towards sustainability, emphasizing the need for collaborative action, innovation, and accountability. 

"They represent the unwavering dedication of Nigeria to play her part  in mitigating climate change and safeguarding the health of our planet for future generations.

"In this regard, the Federal Ministry of Environment is promoting nature based solutions through tree planting,  mangroove restoration, urban greening and restoring wetlands.  We are promoting the adoption of more environmentally friendly energy sources including clean cook stoves, working hard to end gas-flaring and plastic pollution, remediating oil polluted communities, expanding our protected areas, addressing desertification, drought, flooding and erosion. 

"In doing this, we are fully in tune with the inclusivity agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu which is a key pillar in the eight-point presidential priority. Recognizing the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and economic issues, we understand that sustainable development cannot be achieved without addressing the needs of all members of society. By promoting inclusivity, we ensure that no one is left behind in our journey towards a greener, more prosperous Nigeria.”

He further stressed that "Environmental degradation exacerbates resource scarcity, heightens social tensions, and undermines stability.

"By addressing environmental degradation which promote unhealthy competition for scarce resources, we can create not just  a more resilient society, we will infact be cutting off a vital driver of the insecurity currently being faced in our country. 

“As we commemorate World Press Freedom Day, I call on us to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of a free and independent press,  a sine qua non for effective climate journalism.

" Press freedom is indispensable to promote transparency, accountability and social justice, critical to communicating the threat posed by climate crisis and making informed decisions to be more environmentally responsible. You as journalists have a critical role to play in driving environmental policy formulation and implementation and also in shaping public perception about the crisis. 

"Let us therefore work together, across sectors and borders, to harness the power of media in addressing the environmental crisis and advancing sustainable development.

Journalism plays a pivotal role in advancing enviromental agendas, serving as a catalyst for change, a watchdog for accountability, and a voice for the voiceless. Through investigative reporting, insightful analysis, and compelling storytelling, journalists shed light on the pressing issues of environmental crisis facing our nation and inspire mass action towards positive change. Without such mass actions,  we will be unable to win the fight against the environmental challenges confronting our country.

'Ignorance, lack of awareness and appropriate knowledge about the climate crisis is still rampant in our society. 

"Let me therefore in closing call upon you our dear friends in the media for more support in our drive for environmental advocacy and citizenship so that all creatures on earth thrives in harmony with the planet. We know that our behaviour and life styles is driving environmental crisis.

 "We also know that changing behaviour and life style is not easy to achieve. Therefore, we must remain persistent in our advocacy, our awareness creation, our sensitization and educating the public.  

"The doomsday clock is ticking, bringing humanity closer and closer to a "triple whammy" which may ultimately seal all our fate but if we work together, if the freedom of press is promoted, if our journalists comes fully on board deploying their reports as climate actions  we will save our cherished planet earth for ourselves and generations to come."

Onanuga on his part warned that the rainforest is gradually disappearing as there is no preservation of the country's ecology. 

He stressed the need for more involvement of the media in the issue of Environment.

The presidential aide therefore charged journalists to spare time to report environment . 

Reading the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay’s message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the Head, UNESCO Office Abuja, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo said: “The planet is on the brink of a climatic precipice: 2023 was the hottest year on record, with an average global surface temperature 1.45°C higher than in the pre-industrial era. Other alarming records were also broken for ocean surface temperatures, sea level rise and glacier retreat.

“As humanity faces up to this existential peril, we must remember, on this World Day, that the climate challenge is also a journalistic and informational challenge. No effective climate action is possible without access to free and reliable scientific information.”

He noted: “That is why this year’s theme highlights the essential link between protecting freedom of expression – a global public good – and preserving our planet.

“But this World Day is also a call to action to protect journalism and free, pluralistic information.

“A call to make the major social networks more accountable, so that they can step up their moderation and regulation measures to counter disinformation and conspiracy around climate change, in line with the Guidelines for the Governance of Digital Platforms published by UNESCO in November 2023.”

He added that: “A call to equip all citizens with the critical thinking skills needed to confront disinformation.

“A call, also, to protect journalists and media professionals, artists and scientists, who are all too often the victims of harassment, violence and censorship. A UNESCO study published this month shows that 70% of environmental reporters have been the victims of attacks, threats or pressure because of their work, and 44 environmental journalists have been killed in the last 15 years.

“Access to reliable information is all the more vital in this “super-election year”, when some 2.6 billion citizens are called to the polls. How can voters remain masters of their own destiny if their choices are distorted by false information and polarized by hate speech?”

He however assumed that: “In this context, UNESCO remains firmly committed to defending freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and a pillar of democracy. That is why we defend journalists and train them in safety, including in crisis situations such as Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan and Haiti. At the same time, we have trained thousands of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the issues surrounding freedom of expression, because they are the key players.”

He promised that: “Over the next few weeks, we will also be launching initiatives specifically dedicated to the environment, to provide environmental journalists with greater protection and to strengthen media education and information on the major social networks.”

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