The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Enwistle, Wednesday acknowledged that the media in Nigeria was free with less regulations and government control.
Enwistle, who stated this Tuesday evening in Abuja, when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, in his office, “I have served in countries where the media is very restricted and there is tight government control of the media and so on.”
A statement signed by Maku’s Press Secretary, Joseph Mutah, quoted the Ambassador as saying that his tour of duty to various countries had exposed him to media restrictions but discovered that the contrary in Nigeria.
According to him, the Nigerian media is open for robust debates and news reports.
“So, it’s been a pleasure to come to Nigeria and as I was discussing with the Minister, to find that the media scene it seems to me is completely wide open. I can say that having recently spent a lot of time on television being asked some tough questions by journalists and there’s not a complaint, that’s a good thing,” he said.
He added that it was gratifying for governments to remain open and promote sharing of information between government and citizens to enhance public confidence and transparency in government activities.
“I think it’s a healthy thing in my country and your country as government begins to get over itself and loosen up and realise that openness and transparency and sharing information, remembering that in government, we work for the people and if the people want to know about government functions, if they want to know where their taxes go and how they were used, they have the right to request that information.
“But I know in my own background, it’s difficult for governments to go down that road, I am very impressed by the progress you have made in that direction so I am glad to congratulate you on that,” he added.
Enwistle described Nigerian journalists as highly knowledgeable and hard-working.
In his remarks, Maku emphasised President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to free media and access to information, which according to him, informed the signing into law the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to promote transparency and accountability.
“We believe as a country that given our experiences, we needed to deliberately support the media to develop; to be free and that is exactly what we did in 2011 when the President signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. We have also more than any country in the continent, highest number of private newspapers, television stations and radio stations and these are very active,” he said.