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Adesugba extols virtues of journalism as The Guardian visits

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The Managing Director of Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority ([NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has given a pass mark to media practitioners in Nigeria for their resilience in spite of the harsh working environment.

This is even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus of the House of Representatives has faulted the harassment of journalists in the country.

Adesugba, who spoke yesterday during a courtesy visit by the leadership of Abuja Bureau of The Guardian newspaper to his office, noted that the media industry was among the few industries that are never considered for financial assistance by the society.

“All over the world, journalists play different and worthy roles in governance. Journalists are lucky people like their lawyer counterparts because society finds them as good leaders in offices they occupy aside from the practice. That’s why any government that understands their role usually allow them to have their way,” he said.

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He, however, lamented that the coming of the online media has seriously affected journalism practice.

Adesugba urged practising journalists to know the limits of their powers, stressing that it was always important to know when to step on toes and when not to.

According to him, “the state and media practitioners are mutually related and need each other to be able to impact positively on the society.”

The NEPZA boss drew attention to the rapid growth in population across the country, pointing out that it has hindered the efforts of government in the area infrastructure.

He said Nigerians should appreciate the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for the massive infrastructure it has delivered to the people despite the insecurity challenges facing the country.

“Some people are saying that security, poverty and unemployment have dented the image of this administration. But I must tell you that the administration has performed well especially in the area of infrastructure. This no one can wish away, and in every situation I have had the privilege of telling people that instead of blaming the leadership, the blames ought to go to the people heading strategic position of authorities in government because it’s their duty to execute the programmes,” he added.

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While expressing gratitude to The Guardian team for the visit, he gave the assurance that NEPZA would continue to partner with the brand for the overall benefit of Nigeria.

Earlier in her remark, the Abuja Bureau Chief, who led the delegation, Dr. Bridget Chiedu Onochie, stated that the visit was informed by the renewed vision of the management to establish a robust relationship with stakeholders for the benefit of the society.

Onochie used the occasion to express the inability of the paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Martins Oloja, to lead the delegation owing to the exigencies of his office.

She said: “The Guardian has introduced Special Reports in its pages which NEPZA can catch on to further project the achievement of the agency to the outside world. We know the imperatives of your sector to Nigeria’s economy. We understand that people need to know what you have done well and what you need to do more. We expect you to use The Guardian platform to project your work; I can assure you of our support for your success.”

The PDP caucus, led by Mr. Kingsley Chinda, argued that the harassment of journalists clearly violates the provisions of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and, by extension, Press freedom.

The caucus, in a statement, contended that press freedom is a universal right and an integral component of democratic governance, adding that any attempt to shrink, constrict or otherwise take away the freedom must be viewed by all well meaning Nigerians as attempt to undermine the nation’s democracy and to return the country to the dark days of despotic rule.

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The caucus called on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his mandate to defend and protect the Constitution by immediately directing all relevant organs of state to desist from any further harassment of journalists.

The lawmakers also called for the immediate and unconditional release of any journalist arrested or detained by any law enforcement agency simply for exercising his or her journalistic license.

Expressing concern over reports that members of staff of Channels Television were quizzed by the Department of State Services (DSS) in connection with their handling of a programme, it maintained that as representatives of the people, they owe Nigerians the duty to protect the democratic space with press freedom as a core pillar.

The caucus added: “We also owe a duty to ensure compliance with the rule of law, good governance, the preservation of law and order, fidelity to the principles of constitutionalism and the general adherence to democratic ethos and principles in public administration throughout the length and breadth of the federation.

“As a caucus, we must however express worry at the rapid descent of the country into the sort of repression and despotism experienced before the nation’s return to democracy. The assault on press freedom has reached a crescendo under this administration. Little wonder that Nigeria has emerged as the most dangerous place in West Africa for journalists, according to a survey released by global media advocacy organisation, Reporters without Borders also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) to mark the 2020 World Press Freedom Day.”

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Adesoji AdesugbaNEPZA
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