Ahead of the International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress being hosted by Nigeria in June this year, the President of the Senate Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday called for a closer collaboration between the media and the parliament in the overall interest of the nation’s democracy and better dividends for the people.
Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, made the call when the Executive Director of the IPI and members of the local organizing committee of its forthcoming world congress comprising media proprietors, and senior reporters and editors visited him in Abuja.
He said that he is excited that Nigeria is hosting this year’s edition of the world congress of the IPI and described the upcoming event as a great opportunity not only for the global press to have a better understanding of the country “but to give us an opportunity to be able to interact more in the interest not only of understanding issues here in Nigeria, Africa and the global world because to some of us we really believe that the growth and stability of the world today depends on what happens in Africa and in Nigeria.
“I believe that when the world start getting accurate information about what happens in Nigeria, I think the world will be a better place for it,” he said.
He added: “I must appreciate your remarks. Apart from the issue of the freedom of the press, there is a point you kept on hammering about which the issue of quality is reporting and accurate reports.
“These are issues that I believe that as our democracy strives to ensure freedom of expression and freedom of the press, which is very good here in Nigeria, I think the responsibility we keep in asking the media is how also we improve on the quality of reporting.
“I think it goes a long way to strengthen our democracy when we strengthen the quality, not just of free press but quality free press. I think that is an area that is very important.
“I use this opportunity to also say that the strengthening of democracy of the country will rest not only in the media but also the legislative arm of government because we do basically the same thing in a way.
“The legislature ensures that the executive arm of government is accountable to the people the same way that the media ensures that all those who are in government are accountable to the people.
“So, we really should be partners in progress and work closely together. That is still not happening and I think that there is need for us to continue to do that based on the understanding that we are on the same side.
“And I think what is important is those institutions like ours must be strengthened and when we strengthen our institutions and not individuals because some of us would come and go, we must strengthen those institutions if we want to strengthen our democracy.
“I want to use this opportunity to seek that we should continue to see how closely the press and parliament can work more closely as institutions and not as individuals. I think this will go a long way in ensuring that our people are better served and benefit from the whole process,” Saraki stated.
Earlier the Executive Director of the IPI, Barbara Traofi, said the visit was both meant to get the support of the local media and government for the proposed event.
Traofi said: “The space that the state can offer to quality journalism is vital not only in the sense of being hands off, but also in the sense of proactively giving the journalism community the safety they need to work professionally to get the information they need about the decision of the state, the decision of the Senate, and the decision of the government so that they can come cover it in a most accurate way.
“In view of all these I am most thankful to you and I am very glad to know that you and the institution you represent are in support of this event.
“I reiterate the request and the hope that you will consider joining not only the congress but also addressing our esteemed delegates during the course of the congress, I think that when the world editors and journalists come to Nigeria, because they want to understand the progress that this country has been doing.
“So what we in our communication about the upcoming congress have been sharing, we feel this is the right moment for IPI to be in Nigeria because so much has been happening in the right direction and Nigeria is certainly Africa’s most populous country and one of the world’s leading economies.
“So I think it is time the world not only covers what is going on in Nigeria, but covers it accurately having been in contact with the most trusted sources from the country,” she stated.
The IPI is a network of global journalists, editors and publishers, dedicated to the promotion of free press and good governance from around the world.