Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, yesterday faulted President Goodluck Jonathan’s comments on the assessment of his administration by the media.
Jonathan had on Wednesday in Abuja during the signing of Performance Contract Agreement by his Cabinet Ministers in Abuja said government would no longer rely on the performance assessment of its activities by the media, describing media as being bias and highly politicized.
According to the President, “Before, the media used to be the voice of the ordinary people, but now, the media is the voice of those, who own the media houses and those, who own the media houses have private jets and those, who have private jets are not ordinary people”.
Lagos State Council of the NUJ in its reaction described such statement as very unpresidential and unbecoming of a leader, who needs the inputs of the media to succeed.
In a press statement issued in Ikeja and signed by the Chairman of the Council, Comrade Deji Elumoye and the Secretary, Comrade Sylva Okereke, the Council noted that was very unfortunate that the President would castigate the media, which brought him to limelight and has consistently been setting agenda for his administration to succeed, wondering why the President should be rail-roaded into making such uncomplimentary remarks about the media.
“We expect the President to have the same impression of the media as the former President of America, Thomas Jefferson, who when even vilified by the media said, “If I had to choose between government without media and media without government, I would rather choose the latter”, the Council stated.
Like Jefferson, the Council believes that a well-informed public is the core value of any democracy, urging the President to embrace the media, if he wants to succeed and not to vilify it.
Lagos NUJ wondered what becomes of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the nation as amended, which mandated the media to hold public office holders like President Jonathan accountable, if his remarks were to be taken seriously.
The Council however noted that long before, during and after the nation’s Independence; the Nigerian media has been the voice of the voiceless, recalling that journalists had at the detriment of their lives fought against military rule in the country, which today brought democracy, which President Jonathan is one of the beneficiaries.
“It is very unfortunate that media, which is highly regarded as the fourth estate of the realm is treated like a second class citizen while the three other estates of the realms like the Executive, Judiciary and Legislatures have the budgets, adequate security as well as other paraphernalia of office, leaving the last fourth estate to wallow in abject poverty amid vilifications”, the Council stated.