According to Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information, the Federal Government has no intention of restricting the press. He stated that President Bola Tinubu supports the freedom of the press.
However, he expressed concern about the use of language that undermines national unity by Nigerians on the internet. He also stressed that freedom of speech entails great responsibility.
“That is a very delicate line to toe. While the government, Mr President and all of us in that sector are committed to ensuring press freedom. That freedom comes with responsibility…there is no attempt by the government to gag the press,” Idris told State House correspondents shortly after he briefed President Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The minister spoke about the Nigerian Press Council’s intention to register journalists as a measure to improve the quality of the profession. He said, “Well, that is being looked into; you know that Mr President believes in press freedom; he believes in the freedom of expression, and he’s not going to gag the press in any way, shape or form.
“He’s going to work assiduously to ensure that the Nigerian press that has been free is even freer. But this freedom also comes with enormous responsibility.
“You can’t just say what is not right because you’re enjoying press freedom. There will be freedom, responsible freedom.”
He said the Federal Government plans to send National Orientation Agency officers to all 774 local government areas in the country.
He explained that this was necessary because many information outposts in the country were not staffed, and this would help to increase awareness of national identity.
“The national orientation agency has offices in the 774 LGAs…not all the people that will man these local government offices are there, but we are rebuilding that. We are going to put officers of the NOA around all the 774 LGAs,” he said.
Idris observed that “the belief in the concept of nationhood and patriotism has broken down in this country. We’re trying to rebuild that, to reconstruct that.”
“Mr. President has given me a marching order to see that Nigerians believe in this country once again. We’re coming up with a national discourse on orientation or reorientation. So that Nigerians can believe in their country.
“People don’t even believe in leaders that they themselves have elected. Flags are not flying anymore. You go to government offices, you don’t even see the symbol of our collective existence, flying even in public buildings.
“We’re bringing back this concept of discipline that Nigerians should have. Patriotism. Belief in the nationhood that our founding fathers have given us. National orientation is going to be at the center of it,” he said.