President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the media to exercise its freedom with responsibility to Nigerians and rise to the defence of democracy as the 2015 elections draw nearer.
The President made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at a fund-raising dinner organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors.
Represented by the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, the President said in spite of the challenges, democracy in the past 14 years had served Nigerians better than the decades of military rule.
He urged the media to exercise the freedom it presently enjoy with utmost responsibility to the nation, noting that the media remained a critical factor in the success or otherwise of the 2015 election.
“I am appealing to the media; this democracy we are seeing is far better than the military regimes that we have had.
“My challenge to practitioners is to present our country in a positive way; let us defend this country and the democracy we currently enjoy.
“Nigeria can only be fixed by the people of Nigeria, that is why I am particularly appealing to the media to project our country in their reports,’’ he said.
Jonathan added that in spite of the challenges in the country, Nigeria had done significantly well both at home and in the continent.
According to him, Nigeria represents the hope of `Black Africa’ and Nigerians, including the media cannot afford to fail in their responsibilities.
Other speakers at the occasion called for a total change in the orientation to media reportage of events, and political actors in the country.
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Jibril Aminu, recalled that from the first republic through the era of military dictatorship, the media played active roles in stabilising the polity.
He urged practitioners to reflect their love for Nigeria in their reports to help stabilise the polity, especially during electioneering periods.
He said that Nigerians had no other country to run to hence the need for all Nigerians to put aside ethnic, regional, religious and political differences in the interest of national unity and development.
The governors of Edo and Delta, Comrade Adams Oshiomole and Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, in their separate remarks said the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable.
They appealed to the media to close ranks with political and opinion leaders in the country and work for the unity of the nation regardless of the bickering among politicians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Guild, Mr Femi Adesina, said the idea of a national secretariat had been conceived by past leaders of the Guild.
He said that the current executive was only building on the foundation already laid by previous leaders.
Adesina said that the secretariat complex and an annex would be cited in either Lagos or Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Maku announced a N50 million donation by the Federal Government for the project, while donations from Edo and Delta state governments were undisclosed.