Senate President, Bukola Saraki says the true development and growth of a nation can’t be complete without the freedom of the press.
The former Kwara State governor, stated this on Friday during a a conference in Abuja to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day organised by the PremIum Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and the European Union’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.
Saraki, who spoke on the theme, “Press Freedom in Nigeria — the Rule of Law, Media and Violent Extremism”, reiterated the need for the press to be given free access to information gathering.
“We do appreciate that we cannot deliver good governance without a free press, and we are always available to work in tandem with the media to ensure a democratic society that serves us all.
“Clearly, if we truly wish to grow and preserve our democracy, we must understand that a free and pluralistic media environment that guarantees access to information is non-negotiable.
“When citizens have information, they are able to make informed choices due to the diversity of their viewpoints. When we have such a society, when citizens are not only well-informed but are free to express their valid opinions — without fear or prejudice — it is only then that we can truly say we are practising true democracy.
“This is because democracy has at its foundation the freedom of the press, which in turn promotes good governance, accountability and respect for human rights.
“The urgency of this is reflected in Nigeria’s ranking on the Global Press Freedom Index of 2019, where we are ranked 120 out of 180 countries.
“One step lower than our standing in 2018, in fact. Other pointers would include the incidence of detention of journalists in this country.”