“Nigeria’s economy is too weak to sustain press freedom” | The Guardian Nigeria News
The Guardian’s managing director and editor, Martins Oloja, said the national economy was too weak to sustain press freedom.
Oloja said so yesterday in Abuja, during a media dialogue organized by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
He noted that the country urgently needs strong capitalization to support robust investigative journalism that can hold public officials accountable.
Calling for support from the private sector, Oloja warned that if media executives continued to depend on wicked and criminal rulers who brought Nigeria down for capitalization, the situation could get worse.
He said only good journalism can improve Nigeria’s system of governance, in terms of holding people accountable and monitoring them until they work in the interest of the citizens.
He said: “It costs a lot of money to do freelance journalism. It’s not about journalists, although some journalists are lazy and don’t want to do much. But if you want to do investigative journalism, you need capital.
“If Nigeria’s economy stays like this, we’re not going anywhere because we don’t have good capitalization to support robust investigative journalism. Most landlords have no money; they depend on the system for their survival. So we end up rewarding the people we’re supposed to hold accountable.
“We cannot practice robust journalism. What we do here is PR and marketing, not journalism. The country’s economy is too weak to sustain press freedom because managers still depend on the system we oversee for revenue. And that’s the problem.”
Oloja further explained, “Journalists today are trying. Journalists today are highly educated. But we work in bondage; bondage of systemic failure that we cannot report.
“We have questions. We have some documents. But can we be bold in what we do because they owe us or because we need their ads?
“The solution is for us to work with the election management agency in Nigeria and in the states, to have good people in government, to improve our economy. If we don’t have a robust economy and good federalism that will make proactive states in managing their destiny, rather than coming to Abuja to share small revenues that are not up to par with New York City revenues, we will not get out of this situation.”
Earlier in their opening remarks, ICIR Executive Director Dayo Aiyetan and MacArthur Foundation National Director Dr. Kole Shettima highlighted the importance of independent journalism in promoting vulnerable voices.