Nigerian media scene seems “completely wide open”-US Ambassador

USAMBB-599x300(Press Release,Federal Ministry of Information,Nigeria )The United States government has acknowledged that the media in Nigeria is free with less regulations and government control. United States Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. James Enwistle stated this in Abuja when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku.
He noted that his tour of duty to various countries had exposed him to media restrictions but discovered that on the contrary, the media in Nigeria are open for robust debates and news reports.
“I have served in countries where the media is very restricted and there is tight government control of the media and so on. So it’s been a pleasure to come to Nigeria and as I was discussing with the Minister, to find that the media scene it seems to me is completely wide open. I can say that having recently spent a lot of time on television being asked some tough questions by journalists and there’s not a complaint, that’s a good thing,” he said.
He said it is gratifying for governments to remain open and promote sharing of information between government and citizens to enhance public confidence and transparency in government activities.
“I think it’s a healthy thing in my country and your country as government begins to get over itself and loosen up and realise that openness and transparency and sharing information, remembering that in government, we work for the people and if the people want to know about government functions, if they want to know where their taxes go and how they were used, they have the right to request that information. “But I know in my own background, it’s difficult for governments to go down that road, I am very impressed by the progress you have made in that direction so I am glad to congratulate you on that”, he stated.
Ambassador Enwistle lauded the quality of journalism in Nigeria, which he described as high with knowledgeable journalists working in the media.
In his remarks, Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku said President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to free media and access to information informed his signing into law the Freedom of Information Act to promote transparency and accountability.
He said the government is supporting the development of the media because of the vital roles they play especially in a democracy.
“We believe as a country that given our experiences, we needed to deliberately support the media to develop; to be free and that is exactly what we did in 2011 when the President signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. We have also more than any country in the continent, highest number of private newspapers, television stations and radio stations and these are very active; they operate freely without constraint within the bounds of the constitution”, he remarked.
Mr. Maku stated that the Federal Ministry of Information is actively utilising the Social Media to engage and inform Nigerians on the activities and programmes of government because of the huge population of forty-eight million Nigerians on the internet.
He said his ministry introduced programmes such as the Ministerial Platform for ministers and heads of some agencies to render the scorecard of their stewardship live on a multi-media platform and the National Good Governance Tour aimed at physical verification and inspection of ongoing government projects by the media and civil society organisations to promote accountability in government.
He informed the ambassador that President Jonathan is implementing reforms in critical sectors, which opened up the economy to private and foreign investments.
The Minister said despite the security challenges, Nigeria remains the preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Africa because of the confidence investors have in the economy, which is growing at 7% per annum.
According to him, Nigeria under President Jonathan witnessed free and fair election which has gone a long way to stabilise the polity and promote democracy in the country.
“Because of the reforms that have come on board, the economy has been growing at about 7% per annum, a lot of activities are going on; cement production has gone up; agriculture is coming up; a lot of food is being produced through support for farmers in seeds and so on; private sector is participating more actively now in the economy than it used to be and we are opening up a large size of the market to the people,” he said.

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