The outgoing Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said Nigeria is the freest country in the world, where people can express their opinions no matter how harmful it is, even to the very existence of the country.
Mohammed stated this on Sunday at the send forth party organised by the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation in Abuja in his honour.
The minister, who spoke after glowing tributes and commendations from various heads of agencies and captains of industry in the broadcast industry, insisted that the outgoing administration of President Mohammadu Buhari remains the most tolerant to all manner of criticism and attacks by the media, despite the perception by the public that the administration is vindictive and strict.
‘‘NBC is one agency that has given me the most headaches.
"Most times, I woke up in the morning with messages from the Villa or phone calls about what is being said about the government and why NBC allowed such a thing to happen.
‘‘What most people don’t know is that with the number of televisions and radio we have in Nigeria and the fact that for a quite a while now, the government has lost the monopoly of the air waves, we have more private television and radio stations than government owned.
‘‘No matter what anybody will say, Nigeria remains undoubtedly the freest country where you can express your opinion, no matter how harmful it is, even to the very existence of Nigeria.
‘‘That is the task NBC is facing every day and no matter how much we try, we are always in the bad books of everybody.
"We are in the bad books of the government because government thinks we are too soft, in the bad books of naysayers because they think we are too strict.’’
The minister, who was full of praises to the President, stated that President Buhari had demonstrated uncommon tolerance to criticism from the press, as against the general expectations of the public.
‘‘I must give credit to the president; I have never seen the president as tolerant as Mohammed Buhari.
"He has never called me once to say go and close this station, even when they are abusing him.
"He has become so democratised that today he takes everything as it comes.
"After eight years, he is finishing on a very good note.
"The success of an information manager is known so much as to what he says or prevents from being said,’’ he said.
On the amendment of the NBC Code, the minister said the administration on assumption of office in 2015 decided to amend the broadcasting Code to ensure broadcasting code protects every Nigerian, in the industry and restores sanity into the industry.
He, however, regretted that despite all the efforts, the administration remained the most vilified and misunderstood by the people.
‘‘When we came in 2015, our first task was to review the broadcasting code to ensure the broadcasting code protects every Nigerian, the industry and restore sanity into the industry.
"Regrettably, we were the most misunderstood, most insulted through this amendment."
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