Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has given the Nigerian media a wake-up call that they should live up to their responsibility of being the mouthpiece of the poor.
He also said without a free press, Nigeria and its people would be denied the fruits of democracy.
The governor, who spoke at the weekend in Port Harcourt while hosting a delegation of the Media and Publicity Committee of the IPI 2018 Congress, said he was happy the IPI Congress would hold in Nigeria at a period the nation was trying to have another transition.
The IPI Congress delegation was in the state as part of its advocacy visit to critical stakeholders to mobilise support for the successful hosting of the congress, scheduled for Abuja in June.
“We are happy this is happening while we are trying to have another transition. Press freedom can only happen when we have democracy and rule of law.
“We are happy the press will let Nigerians and the world know the way the federal government is fighting corruption by targeting the opposition.
“The press should wake up. It should be the spokesman for the poor. The press must speak out and defend the poor and the vulnerable,” the governor said.
Wike expressed regrets that the federal government by its conduct, has portrayed Nigeria as not being ready to have enduring democracy.
He also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of insincerity in conducting free and fair polls in 2019.
The governor said his administration was aware of plans by the federal government, in connivance with INEC to undermine the wishes of voters in the state during the next general election.
He, however, vowed that his administration would do everything within the law to frustrate plots to rig the polls in the state in 2019.
Wike pledged his administration’s support to make the Abuja IPI Congress a success.
He urged the IPI Congress delegation to intensify its national advocacy visit to create more awareness for the Abuja congress.
Earlier, leader of the delegation and former Director General, NTA, Dr. Tonnie Iredia, had told the governor that the visit was to create awareness for the congress and to ask the governor to sponsor journalists from the state to attend the Abuja epochal event.
According to him, Nigeria’s hosting of the congress will afford journalists from around the world to see Nigeria beyond the stereotype negative narrative they have been exposed to by the dominant global media.
“We hope that after this event, the foreign media will shift focus from the negative reportage of events in the country,” he said.
The IPI Congress delegation also visited the NTA Zonal Network Centre in Port Harcourt during which it solicited support for publicity for the event.
The Zonal General Manager, Mr. Adebayo Bamidele, said his organisation was ready to partner IPI and other stakeholders to ensure the success of the Abuja congress.