Senate President David Mark said on Thursday in Uyo that the Freedom of Information Act had provided enough room for editors to decipher what constitutes national security.
Mark made the assertion while declaring open the 8th All Nigeria Editors Conference organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Describing the theme of the conference “The Nigerian Editor and National Security” as apt, he advised the editors not to allow “breaking news to break up the country.”
He said, “The problem we have is the balance between what will make you remain in business and what constitutes national security issue.
“I believe that journalists are very patriotic people because they are the first victims of any major crisis.”
The Senate president described media as an important tool in the business of statecraft, national survival and preservation and advised editors to be extra careful, fair and conscious of national unity, because security issues covered infrastructure, health, welfare and energy, among others.
Earlier in a goodwill message, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, noted that editors’ challenge had always been that of balancing constitutional duty and national security.
Ihedioha said the National Assembly recently passed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 to assist in the fight against terrorism and said that the legislature would welcome recommendations that would further improve national security legislation.
He assured editors that the house would stand firm with the media until terrorism was defeated, adding that the the National Assembly would not impose any decision on the people in the ongoing constitutional reforms.
“We will pander to the well articulated interests of the people as far as the constitution amendment process is concerned.
“We shall soon embark on intense consultations with the people at the grassroots. The media has a crucial role to play in this consultative process,” Ihedioha said.
In another goodwill message, the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria pledged to support the guild in all its activities.
Delivering the association’s message, the publisher of The Source Magazine, Ms. Comfort Obi, lauded the guild for the theme of the conference.
She advised them to see reportage as a sacred duty and to do so with all sense of responsibility.
Similarly, the NUJ President, Mr. Mohammed Garba, noted that the media had a crucial role to play in the knotty issue of national security and conflict management.
Garba expressed the hope that the conference would make recommendations that would assist in nation building.