The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has applauded the media for its roles in enthronement of transparency and accountability in public office.
NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji gave the commendation in a collaborative celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Dr Orji remarked that since December 1993 when the “World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, the 3rd of May every year has remained a special day around the world to reflect on the important role of the media in the development of the society, and the preservation of world peace and security through information dissemination, civic education and enlightenment, conflict prevention, management and resolution”.
The Deputy Director/Head, Communications & Advocacy, NEITI, Obiageli Onuorah (Mrs) in a statement said, Dr Orji identified the role of the media in Nigeria as indispensable in the building process of the country’s democracy, providing voice for the voiceless and in the enthroning of transparency and accountability in public office as fundamental ethics in building citizens’ trust in governance.
“NEITI identified the Media as an integral part of the civil society and the agency’s essential ally in ensuring that the principles of openness, accountability and prudent management of extractive industries revenues to support national development and reduce poverty in Nigeria are realized.
“By effective reporting the extractive industries, the Media in Nigeria has supported NEITI’s mandates of leading advocacy for reforms to facilitate and enhance transparency and accountability in the management of the nation’s natural resources.
“NEITI uses the occasion to applaud the specific roles of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigeria Guild of Editors, the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Press Council in ensuring that media freedom in Nigeria is strengthened, preserved, nurtured and sustained over the years in spite of challenges”, he said.
The NEITI boss said as Nigeria gets set for the next round of general elections, NEITI has reminded the Media of the urgency to articulate and put forward “development-oriented-issue-based content” that will help shape the direction of political campaigns required to ensure popular participation, free, fair and credible elections.
On this occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, NEITI also urges the Media to continue to lead public education required to lay solid foundation for the unity of Nigeria as a democratic society.
Dr Orji stated that NEITI’s legitimate interest lies squarely on the fact that the ongoing reforms under the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) can only thrive in a democratic society that allows for public debates, dialogues and constructive civic engagements.
The Media is a strong component of the civil society and NEITI is a strong ally of both the civil society and the media. The media helps to shape public policy and advance individual rights.
NEITI has enjoyed very cordial relations with the media which has contributed to the depth of coverage of extractive industries issues. This led to the creation of a core group of media professionals covering the sector-MITEI (Media Initiative for Transparency in extractive initiative.
On this occasion, NEITI pays special tributes to men and women in the media industry who died on the line of duty towards promoting press freedom.
NEITI also extolled the virtues of Nigerians whose investments in the media industry have tremendously provided jobs and influenced positively the development of the industry in many respects.
NEITI particularly notes the contributions and the roles played by High Chief Raymond Dokpesi who set up the first independent television in Nigeria, the renowned broadcast journalists- Chief John Momoh, Chief Nduka Ogbaigbena, Chief Sam Amuka, Dele Giwa, Chief Ray Ekpu and several others whose huge investments of intellect, resources and sacrifices helped to bring the Nigeria media as the best in Africa and in competition with the very best in the world.
NEITI calls for improved working conditions for the media through better welfare, regular training, and provision of digital technology.
“NEITI congratulates all Media professionals in our country and ask that while we push for the advancement of media freedom we must as Media professionals live by example by ensuring that the freedom of others including those we sought to defend are also respected and protected.
The freedom of the press has impacted Nigeria in the areas of transparency in the extractive sector, the Freedom of Information Act, the Petroleum Industry Act and the recent push for disclosures through the Open Government Partnerships (OGP) which the Nigeria government is committed to as it pushes the boundaries of disclosures.