It’s no longer news that there seem to be an onslaught of information dissemination and press freedom in Nigeria, an onslaught with the minister of information Lai Mohammed as the commander.
Recently media houses have been made to comply with some regulations and guidelines put in place by the media. The same media which the All Progressives Congress (APC) used effectively to gain power in 2015, the party effectively used the new media and influencers to win the 2015 general elections.
However, it seems the relationship has become sore and the government is hell bent on crushing the media.
The Twitter ban and the mandate by NBC restricting media houses from using the platform has shown and proved the Federal Government doesn’t give an inch about press freedom.
The Twitter ban didn’t come as a surprise in some quarters as there has been some elements of media gagging by this present administration. According to a report by Amnesty International, 8 media houses were raided by the government between 2015 and 2019, the report also claimed several journalists have been arrested by both the Federal Government and state governments.
One can’t forget so soon the running battle between the Federal Government and DAAR Communications (AIT & RAY POWER) and Punch Newspapers, as both media firms were excluded from covering state house events.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed is also pushing for stringent regulations against the media.
The minister wants the inclusion of online broadcasting to be included in the regulation of NBC, while online newspapers are to be included in the Nigerian Press Council Act.
However, The Nigerian Guild of Editor and Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Union of Journalists have kicked against the bill and made their intentions known by carrying out an Information Blackout Campaign, an advert campaign carried on the front pages of major dailies in Nigeria.
Recently, NBC sent a letter to all media houses titled “Newspaper Reviews and Current Affairs Programmes: A need for caution” the letter was signed by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Francisca Aiyetan, on behalf of the Director-General of the commission, Balarabe Ilelah.
The letter directed media houses to exercise caution and not “glamorishing” the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers and bandits.
As event unfold, we are on the lookout for the media responses to the onslaught by the Federal Government. Aside from the press, the broadcast medium has shown to be the only toothless bulldog in this on going war.
Although, more still needs to be done on the part of press, but events unfolding has only proved that broadcast stations are the weakest link in the media industry in Nigeria.
The onslaught on the media is not just against the media houses but against the citizenry to which we have a responsibility of reporting happenings in the country. Their link to Information and dissemination is on the line, and we all know what will happen to our society if we have a media who can’t give reports without the fear of government backlash.
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Abejide Abayomi is a Communication graduate, who has carved for himself a great niche for writing and crisis management and Content Creator with vast PR experience