Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, noted on Sunday that rather than meddle, the current administration would encourage journalists to run stories that critically examine the workings of government and point the way forward.
According to a statement by the President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) Malachy Agbo, Adesina gave the assurance to journalists during a dinner held for both presidential spokesmen, along with Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, by the online publishers.
Also hosted was the Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Vice President Laolu Akande.
He revealed that the first thing the President told him when he (Adesina) assumed office was, “Adesina, always tell me the truth.”
Adesina, who is one of the Trustees of GOCOP, hinted that the President was firmly resolved to run an open and transparent government and would neither have anything to hide nor have any cause to want to ask for any story to be ‘killed’ – a term that means ‘do not publish,’ for stories that are likely to embarrass the authorities.
According to him, the only thing Buhari requires is that, for any news item, the Presidency should be allowed the opportunity to state its side before being put in the public domain.
The presidential spokesman commended the online publishers for coming together to form a group, even as he counselled them to watch out against spoilers, gate-crashers and those who might hide under the canopy of online publishing to damage the reputation of innocent public officers.
He said, “There is a saying that one bad coin can spoil hundreds of other coins. My advice is that you should not allow any of your members to use the platform to malign innocent people. You should also find a way of sanitising the social media practitioners who just sit in their bedrooms to churn out news without professional touch.”
Also speaking, Shehu said he was grateful to members of the Guild for the support they gave him when he handled the media and publicity department of All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council as director.
The presidential spokesman noted that the APCPPC was the poorest in terms of resources “but the richest in terms of people’s goodwill,” adding that “the online publishers were the greater part of that process.”