AHEAD of 2019 general elections, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has stressed the need for Nigeria to get it right as it cannot afford to fail, saying there can be no democracy without credible elections.

Speaking in Abuja at a farewell dinner he organised for delegates to International Press Institute, IPI, World Congress, Saraki assured that the Senate would continue to support virile press to ensure that there was no interference in the workings of the media. Saraki, who called for accurate and responsible journalism as the only way to sustaining the nation’s democracy, said: “As Nigeria heads into the 2019 election year, we plead with the press— national and international— to maintain objectivity at all times in their reporting. I say this because there can be no democracy without credible elections.

“If we get the election right, then we have a better chance of making a stronger society. We are living in times that call on the press to strive, more than ever, to defend freedoms. “Events all over the world attest to the urgency of this. The media must be a defender of values; it must stand for rights, for openness for the remaking of a world where the powerful will not oppress the weak. “It is a special honour to host the international press at the IPI World Congress dinner here in Abuja. We are very pleased that the world’s best journalists, editors and media executives have converged on Nigeria to explore the theme, ‘Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Media For Strong Societies.” “No doubt, from the engaging sessions and enriching discussions over the last couple of days, many strategies have been formulated that will take the practice of journalism to new heights around the world. “I congratulate the International Press Institute (IPI) and Nigerian Hosting Committee, NHC, headed by Prince Nduka Obaigbena on the successful hosting of this World Congress and General Assembly. When the IPI Director, Ms. Barbara Traofi, called at my office along with a delegation, including Nigerian Hosting Committee back in February, I was most enthusiastic in signalling my support for the congress holding in our country. “We welcome this visit of the IPI to Nigeria and we call for more regular visits, and indeed annual congresses, in this part of the world. This, I believe, will make for better understanding of Nigerians and Africans in the eyes of the international media. “When international journalists themselves come in our midst and get the right position about Africa, the image of our continent will start to improve in the eyes of the world out there. Responsible journalism “How we begin to redress the balance, goes to the heart of responsible journalism itself. It starts with quality, accurate and objective reporting the hallmarks of good journalism. Objectivity and impartiality, those time honoured principles of responsible journalism, cannot be over- emphasised. “In the era of fake news, especially with the fragmentation of the social contract as we are witnessing all over the world today, it is clear to me that the media cannot afford to be complacent. “The media cannot allow itself to be complicit. When false claims are made, which could heat up the polity or set different groups off against one another it behoves the media to expose these by countering with verifiable facts. “I recognise that the media is facing its own challenges, due in part to the internet and the rise of social media. So also are the modes of relaying the news to an audience whose preference for receiving mass communication is also changing with each passing day.”



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