The Buhari Media Organization (BMO) has decried what it calls the “growing and unfortunate” trend of ascribing the ownership of some media Bills pending at the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke respectively, the group stated that the two Bills, the Nigerian Press Council Act and the National Broadcasting Commission Act, have nothing to do with the President as the Bills are not Executive Bills.
“It is thus wrong and unfortunate to accuse President Buhari of attempting to gag the press through these bills.
“President Buhari has no business with any of these Bills. He has made this clear for the umpteenth time: he did not sponsor, push for or ask for these Bills. It is thus surprising that some media platforms, editors, and commentators have chosen the path of untruth to ascribe the Bills to the President and his government.
“In fact these Bills were sponsored by a legislator from Oyo State who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Correspondents, editors and newspaper men should know these facts better.
“We expected that members of the Press would know better to differentiate activities and actions of the Legislature and those of the Executive.
“Journalists must also learn to differentiate between the activities of individual legislators that span over 400 of them, and the actions of the President.
“To hang the actions of an opposition legislator on the President is not just unkind, unlearned and ignorant, but offensive. It is as if these editors and newspaper opposition platforms were desperately seeking for a bad thing to hang on the President, finding none, they decided to force an action that has no business with him on his government”.
The group noted that members of the public and the Press were free to criticise and offer their disagreement with the provisions of these Bills, but stated that they must do it responsibly and properly.
“Anyone can raise issues against the provisions of a Bill that looks oppressive on its face value: that is fair and okay. But to ascribe a Bill to the President because you do not like President Buhari is irresponsible and wrong.”
BMO stated that no government has allowed freedom of the Press as the President Buhari administration has done in the last six years, “even despite vile and untrue criticisms being peddled against him in the Press.
“The President has always stated and demonstrated his commitment to free speech, to the freedom of expression and the independence of the Press.
“President Buhari receives criticisms on the pages of newspapers and on television almost on a daily basis. Most of these have been unfounded and untrue, but he has at no point sent any law enforcement against any editor or journalist. They have had a freeway in doing their work under President Buhari.
“The coordinated attacks on the President, fingering him as the one behind those Bills in the National Assembly to regulate the press is unwholesome.
“What President Buhari seeks from the Press is that they operate by truth, and a good conscience. This is we also restate to our colleagues.”
The group stated that the fact that Nigerians have to double-check news reports from news mediums should give these platforms cause to pause and self-reform.