Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State, has described media as one of the real engines of growth and a real barometer that gauges the mood of the nation and helps to stabilise the polity of any sovereign country.
He said press freedom is an essential ingredient of any civilized democracy, noting that media practitioners in Nigeria should be given the rights and privileges to do their jobs without any hindrances.
Governor Sanwo-Olu spoke during a courtesy visit by the Board of Trustees of Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) led by its Chairman, Dr Haroun Adamu, at the Lagos House Marina, on Tuesday.
The Governor who commended the role of the media in Nigeria said media practitioners should be recognised and encouraged to continue to perform their functions in society.
He said: “Press Freedom is an important ingredient of any civilized democracy. The profession is noble and very sacred. It must also be given the rights and privileges to do its job. People must be able to continue to know that somebody would be the voice for the voiceless. Media practitioners should continue to deploy their skills and intellect to check people in authority, speak truth to power and use their training and intellect to direct leadership to ensure that we are not in a banana republic.
“Personally, I see the media profession as one of the real engines of growth. I see them as a real barometer that gauges the mood of the nation and helps to stabilise the polity of any sovereign nation. I am sure Nigeria is not an exemption. You can see and measure where the country is based on what the media is saying. And if people have donated their time and intellect to be the voice for the voiceless, I think it is proper that such people should be recognised and be encouraged to continue to do that.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who praised the NMMA for appreciating media practitioners and their works in Nigeria, assured the organisation that the Lagos State government would support the 30th anniversary of the award.
“I am happy that you have been able to explain to us that over the years, Lagos and its citizens and businesses have played major roles, and so we feel highly honoured and encouraged that a landmark celebration, 30th anniversary, would be taking place in Lagos. We will not shy away from supporting the anniversary because that is something that is proper,” the Governor said.
“On behalf of my entire team, we want to congratulate you for continuing to hold the space high and for continuing to ensure that you are identifying and encouraging men that have kept the profession. We also commend you for using the merit award as a proper yardstick to encourage others to continue to do what is right at all times and to continue to give proper and fair reportage because there is a body that is looking at them.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Media Merit Award, Dr Haroun Adamu, said the choice of Lagos to celebrate 30th anniversary of the awards in November is not accidental, noting that “Lagos is the birthplace of Nigeria’s struggle for press freedom from which all other freedoms emanate.
He said Governor Sanwo-Olu, during the 30th anniversary of the NMMA, will unveil the Nigeria Media Merit Award Alumni Association, which comprised over 1,000 past winners in the print and electronic media categories on NMMA in the last 30 years.
Adamu said NMMA had become a cornerstone that has continued to promote the values and ideals of journalism in Nigeria, as well as freedom of speech.