The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the Federal Government to make newsprint, broadcast equipment and all other consumables in the media sector tax free.
It made the call in a statement on Monday, signed by its President, Mustapha Isah, and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, to mark the World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on May 3.
“The media is a strong pillar of democracy; it is the oxygen of the democratic space; and there is urgent need by the federal government to make intervention to save it from collapsing,’’ the editors said.
The World Press Freedom Day, according to the Guild, is a day, globally, to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.
“It is also a day of reflection among journalists and other media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” it said.
The NGE said that a free and independent media that could keep the people informed and hold leaders accountable was essential for a strong and sustainable democracy, including free and fair elections.
“Without it, Nigerians cannot make informed decisions about how they are governed; and address human rights abuses, corruption and abuse of power’’, the editors stated.
The Guild said that a democratic society like Nigeria had a crucial role to play in maintaining media freedom and facilitating access to public information.
“Government should regularly take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom – this should include speaking out against violence against journalists and authorities’ failure/refusal to identify and prosecute attackers, “ it said.
The Guild saluted journalists, pro-media rights groups and others who had remained resolute in the defence of press freedom and independent press in the country.
It said that its ongoing Town Hall Meeting and Capacity Training Programme for editors in the six geo-political zones – being sponsored by the US Embassy in Nigeria, had also provided a huge opportunity to remind its members about the ethical values of journalism practice and the need to strictly adhere to those values.
The NGE said that editors had also resolved to continue to set agenda for conversation in addressing the major issues affecting the country, including insecurity, political violence and others.
It said that they would do so by creating different fora for the discussion of the issues by the major stakeholders: the electoral body, civil society groups, security agencies, political parties and the electorate.