Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has urged the media to remain vigilant, educate and mobilize Nigerians to defend the country’s hard-earned democracy.
Mr Tambuwal gave the task while declaring open the 15th All Nigeria Guild of Editors’ Conference (ANEC) in Sokoto on Thursday.
The Conference is themed: “A Distressed Media: Impact on Government, Governance and Society”.
According to the governor, the media needs to educate Nigerians about the anti-hate speech bill that prescribed the death penalty for offenders.
“This is quite scary and indeed set people thinking of the true intention of those at the forefront of the bill.
“There are enough provisions in our laws to deal with people whose actions can undermine national unity and cohesion. Such draconian legislation has no place in the constitution and democracy like ours.
“The media must, therefore, remain vigilant, you have a responsibility to educate, mobilize Nigerians to defend this hard-earned democracy.
“We cannot operate democracy like a military dictatorship, the storms are gathering and we must join hands to checkmate anti-democratic elements and return our country to the path of constitutionalism, progress and development,” he charged.
Mr Tambuwal described the theme of the conference as apt as it came at a time when Nigeria is struggling to regain its economic balance.
“We face the challenges of dwindling resources, government at all levels are struggling to provide essential services.
“This has restated search for creative and innovative ways to boost Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in order to keep afloat.
“The media is also feeling the heat of the harsh economic environment. It’s a testament for the firm resilient and creativity of Nigeria media that remains vibrant despite the huge financial challenges it’s facing.
“I urge you not to despair, keep the faith and remain unbound, the difficult time would give way to a better time, to a better room for a prosperous future,” said the governor.
He added that the conference has come at a better time when Nigeria is striving to find lasting solutions to some of the problems militating against its political, social and economic development.
“Nigeria faces serious challenges of insecurity, matters of conflicts have been holding many communities hostage.
“However, the good news is that the federal and state governments are doing their best to address the ugly situation.
“Seemingly injectable nature of the conflict has increased sophistication of kidnappers and bandits may, however, require overhaul of security architecture of the country,” he said.
Mr Tambuwal also urged the delegates to feel free to move around and see the historical sight that would capture their imaginations.
The Chairman of the occasion and a former governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba, appealed to the NGE to struggle and fight against the hate speech bill.
“The social media are not part of us, so I don’t know why somebody wants to punish us for what we have not committed.
“In our constitution, there are enough provisions for us to go to court. Therefore, we should continue to fight this out and by the grace of God we will succeed.” he said.
Mr Osoba commended the state government for hosting the 2019 ANEC and hailed Mr Tambuwal for the warm reception given to the members.
Earlier, the Acting President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, said that this year’s ANEC is about the editors, the profession and its survival.
“It is also about Nigeria and the sustenance of our country’s democracy because, without a robust media, democracy suffers.
“This year we are focusing on media as a business. We chose to discuss our profession because we’ve often been accused of proffering solutions to other people’s problems and neglecting ours.
“The media is passing through a tough phase. We are going to survive and we will survive. We will find solutions to our problems,” he said.