President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to correct lapses of his first tenure in his final lap in office, which begins on May 29.
He gave the assurance when he received the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by the National President, Chris Isiguzo, in the State House, Abuja.
The president, while responding to the many issues raised by the journalists bordering on insecurity, lopsided appointments, freedom of speech among others, said that he is going to improve on what he has done in the last four years.
According to him, “there will be a change, a positive change.”
Buhari also appreciated the role journalists play in a democracy, describing them as unique set of professionals.
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the reason for the visit, Isiguzo said: “Basically, we have come to congratulate the president on his re-election as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of course, to also make it clear to him that to whom much is given, much more is also expected.
“He’s gone through the first-four years; by May 29, he will be through with that and he’s been given yet another mandate to lead Nigeria for another four years. We also made it clear to him that some of the major challenges we have had in the past four years, this is an opportunity for him to correct them, especially when it comes to the area of inclusiveness, carrying everybody along.
“That is the spirit of federal character principle that is enshrined in our constitution; that he’s got to carry people along, and of course, we talked about the security problem that we have, not just in the North-east, but even the banditry in the North-west; in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto.
“We challenged him to ensure that the security architecture is overhauled to be able to effectively tackle these challenges that we have. We commended him for the fact that, as we speak now, there is no part of the country that is under the control of insurgents which is good, unlike when he came on board. But we also told him that it is very important that terrorism is completely stamped out – effectively tackled and not technically degraded. We want it to be out of our national life.
“That was what we told him. Coming to us, we drew his attention to the fact that journalism profession has become more like a challenge to all of us. The problem that we are having every now and then, and of course, freedom of expression, it does appear that it is taking flight and we said if we are indeed a democratic nation, journalists must be given free hands to ply their trade.
“A situation where there is clampdown and harassment doesn’t speak well for Nigeria as a democracy and we told the president that.”
On the recent elections and the role of Nigerians in demanding accountability, the NUJ president said: “Well, there is this post that has been trending on social media that a group of people that elects a bad leader are not victims. They are accomplices. Now that we have voted in our leaders, it is also incumbent on us to put them under check. You don’t elect people and not bother about what they do. You only wait for them to bring bags of rice, bags of salt. A lawmaker that has been elected is coming to donate Keke NAPEP and Okada to you. That is not the reason he was elected. So, it is not only the journalists that will hold leaders accountable, the citizens must also hold accountable those that have been elected at all times.”