The front pages of some major newspapers in Nigeria on Monday, July 12, 2021 had the same headline title; “Information Blackout.”
Newspapers such as The Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, This day, Guardian, Daily Sun published an advertorial sponsored by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria.
According to the advertorial, the action was in protest against the media bill being considered by the Members of the Federal House of Representatives.
The bill is being sponsored by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Olusegun Odebunmi.
Speaking about the essence of the bill, Odebunmi said the bill is not designed to chain the press and the media as many people have been saying.
According to Vanguard newspaper, he said: “Most of the people commenting on the bill have no knowledge of it.
“The bill was not sponsored by the Federal Government, even the Minister of Information was only aware a few days and he did not have any input on the bill.
“It is my idea because I feel we should not wait for a supreme court judgment to do what is right by amending the existing controversial law.”
However, according to the stakeholders of the press media, the bill is seen as an infringement on press freedom and citizens’ right to information.
Speaking on the bill, human right activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, described the bill as “anti-media.”
In reaction to the “Information Blackout” headline title, Former Vice President and Presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, said: “I stand resolutely by the NUJ, NGE and NPAN in its campaign against information blackout as represented by the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment Bills. Freedom of the press and access to information is the oxygen of democracy and must never be compromised.”