Head of the European Delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador Michel Arrion, has commended the country for running the most vibrant democracy in Africa with absolute press freedom.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja, at the 2016 World Press Freedom Day celebration, Arrion described the freedom the Nigerian media enjoyed as an asset, adding that freedom of opinion and expression was essential in enjoying a wide range of other human rights.
At the event themed “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedom: This Is Your Right,” the Ambassador said that the EU recognized that free, diverse, independent media were essential for the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression.
While lauding the role of social media activists in deepening public discourse, shaping public opinion and promoting transparency and accountability in the country, Arrion said social media had thrown up new challenges, adding that all human rights that existed offline must be protected online in terms of freedom of opinion, expression and right to privacy.
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The EU in its assessment sees Nigeria as a country where freedom of expression is in general respected, the traditional media is relatively pluralistic, bloggers and cyber activists share their views.
According to Ambassador Arrion, Nigeria boasts of a large, vibrant social media community, whose engagement with the social-political processes has enriched public discourse and widened the frontier of participation on issues that concerns the citizenry.
He said by facilitating the free flow of information and ideas on matters of public interest, and by ensuring transparency and accountability, independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of democracy. According to him, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is not possible without free, independent and pluralistic media.
Also Speaking at the event, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, said freedom of information was good for Nigerians, stressing that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law had succeeded in creating accountability and probity in governance.