Maku was speaking at a memorial in honour of the late founder of Punch Newspaper.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, on Saturday said the Federal Government has created an atmosphere of freedom for the media to operate in and will not suppress critical views.
Mr. Maku spoke at the 30th memorial of the late founder of the Punch Newspapers, James Aboderin, which held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island.
The minister said the Federal Government would continue to support the media, stressing that there was no reason for any news medium not to prosper.
“If you look at the writings, I believe the Nigerian press is one of the freest in the world today and that is the best the government can do not to suppress other views. The atmosphere is free, the market is free, and we have even increased press freedom by the Freedom of Information, FOI, Act,” he said.
Mr. Maku also stated that the Nigerian media was the best in Africa today because the government had created an environment for the media to prosper and because of the large market in Nigeria.
“The economy is prospering. We are growing at seven per cent, industry is coming up and several sectors – cement, telecom, agriculture and manufacturing are growing. As we continue to maintain appropriate macro-economic policies and grow the economy, definitely the media industry will prosper,” he said.
Mr. Maku also highlighted the qualities required for a newspaper to succeed. He said a good paper must define its market, constituency, specialisation and be fair and trustworthy.
He said these and the quality of the editing and the news sense would generate trust from the public and lead to success but that partisanship and lack of professionalism would kill a paper.
“All over the world, competition in the media is very tough. In most countries papers do go down but those who work hard survive. Once you cultivate that kind of paper just as Punch has been over a period of time, then people will get used to your paper. The only time you may not prosper is when you become so partisan that people begin to lose confidence in you and when you take professionalism for granted and you don’t edit your paper well,” he pointed out.
He also noted that using the wrong language, not obeying the canons and principles of journalism, failing to pay workers or invest in manpower were other factors that could make a newspaper not prosper.
“But when you invest in the best men and machines and you create a policy of consistency in quality, you will always succeed,” he said.
The minister praised the hard work, vision, determination and commitment to excellence of the late Mr. Aboderin and urged journalists to emulate such virtues.
A former governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba, described Mr. Aboderin as a great man. Mr. Osoba told journalists to emulate the deceased founder of Punch by being courageous, focused, dedicated, committed and not just for the material gain.
“Your love for the profession must be undiluted,” he said.
The first son of the late Mr. Aboderin and Chairman of The Punch Newspaper, Wale, said his father was a detribalised man.
“He was the ultimate leader that Nigeria should have had. He knew that if you empowered the common man, no matter how, the trickle-down effect would be that those that haven’t even been heard of would also grow. He was also quick to empower people and we don’t have many people doing that anymore. People are always looking for what they can get out of it before they help,” he said.
The former CEO of Newswatch Magazine, Ray Ekpu, who spoke on the sidelines of the event, said the greatest legacy the late Mr. Aboderin left behind was The Punch.
“The vibrancy of The Punch, the professionalism of The Punch and its staying power is the greatest legacy and the greatest tribute that the management of the punch can pay to that man. It is the success of such papers that encourage people to go into journalism,” he said.
The event featured musical performances byTunde and Wunmi Obe, Omawumi, Dr Sid and dancer, Kaffy.
There was also a documentary that showed the donations and activities of the children of the late Mr. Aboderin to support some primary schools in Lagos.
Mr. Aboderin was the founding chairman and publisher of The Punch group of newspapers.
He died on February 28, 1984, at the age of 49. (NAN)