Abuja - The United States Government on Tuesday in Abuja acknowledged the independence of the media in Nigeria, noting that it was free.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Enwistle, made the acknowledgement when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku.
He said that unlike in other countries he had visited, the media in Nigeria was open for robust debates and news reports.
“I have served in countries where the media is very restricted and there is tight government control of the media and so on,” he said.
Enwistle described the country’s media environment as conducive adding that it was gratifying for government to remain opened.
Entwistle, who said that it was a pleasure for him to have come to Nigeria, added that the media scene seemed “completely wide open.”
He also commended the sharing of information between government and citizens saying that the development would enhance public confidence and transparency in government activities.
“If they want to know where their taxes go and how they were used, they have the right to request for that information.”
“I know in my own background, it’s difficult for government 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.”
Entwistle also lauded the quality of journalism in the country and described Nigerian journalists as highly knowledgeable.
In his remark, Maku said President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the Freedom of Information law was a demonstration of his commitment to free media and peoples’ access to information.
He said government was supporting the development of the media because of the vital roles journalists were playing in democracy.
“We believe, as a country, that given our experiences, we needed to deliberately support the media to develop, to be free.”
“That is exactly what we did in 2011 when the President signed the Freedom of Information Act”
“We have the highest number of private newspapers, television and radio stations on the continent and these are very active.”
“They operate freely without constraint within the bounds of the constitution”, he said.
Maku noted that the ministry was utilising the social media to engage and inform Nigerians on the activities and programmes of government.
Maku told the ambassador about Ministerial Platform for ministers and heads of some agencies and the National Good Governance Tour.
He also informed the ambassador about President Jonathan's reform programmes in critical sectors, which he said had opened up the economy to private and foreign investments.
The minister said that in spite of security challenges, Nigeria remained the preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investment in Africa because of the confidence investors had in the country’s economy.