“President Muhammadu Buhari would not hesitate to step on big toes in the current war his administration is waging against corruption in the country” The Presidency said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said this at the opening of a three-day retreat organised for State House correspondents in Kaduna.
The retreat with the theme, “Journalism and the change mantra, State House in focus” is orgnised by the Presidency and is being hosted by the Kaduna State Government.
While admitting that anti-corruption is a war, Shehu said the press could help Buhari to win the war as one of the government’s weapons against those who aim to pull the country down.
He said that was necessary because the power of the media lies in its ability to expose wrongdoing.
He said, “President Buhari has embarked on an anti-corruption campaign that is bound to offend many. Big toes will be stepped on, personal interests will be cast aside. As the popular saying goes, when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.
“Yes, anti-corruption is a war. And the press can help President Muhammadu Buhari to win that war. You are one of the government’s most lethal weapons in this battle against the forces that aim to pull down Nigeria.
“The power of the media, if they have any power at all lies in their ability to expose wrong-doing. This power of exposure is a far more effective deterrent in many countries, including our own, than the court systems that deliver judgement and not necessarily justice.
“If they know that that they will be exposed, many crimes will not happen and herein lies the challenge of the media under Buhari’s administration.
“Use your power to expose wrong-doing, the days of impunity are gone. This is the best way to help the change, now that we have a government with the will and capacity to right all wrongs. But ensure accuracy and the sanctity of the truth.”
In calling for accuracy in media reports, the presidential spokesman said freedom of the press must come with responsibility.
He regretted that he and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had spent a good deal of their time as Buhari’s spokesmen so far countering false information that had been published and presented to the public as facts.
He attributed the cause of many of the reports to the quest by many practitioners to break stories, hence they were not thorough.
He said the Nigerian press has a responsibility to provide the public with information that is factual and verified.
While acknowledging the role played by the press in the emergence of the present administration, Shehu said the government still required the assistance of the media to continue the process of change.
“President Buhari has embarked on the building of a new Nigeria and we need all hands on the deck. We cannot do without the media.
“The government needs you, the press, to keep the public informed on its many activities and policies that are geared towards improving the lives of the Nigerian people according to the change agenda.
“The government needs the press to remain impartial and eschew spurious incentives when reporting and carrying out your responsibilities.
“The government needs you to avoid partnerships with enemies of progress who are bent on bringing down the government, not minding if the entire country collapses while they are at it.”