By Jon Egie

 

Comrade Michael Ikeogwu, NUJ Delta State Council Chairman, flanked by John Agesse, Dr Ignatius Nwanze, Mr Paul Osahor, Itive and Emma Amaize; delivering his welcome address during the occasion.

Delta State Government has assured that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre under construction will be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

The assurance was given by the Hon Commissioner of information, Mr Charles Aniagwu during the occasion of the 2019 NUJ Press Week lectures, awards and fund raising ceremony held at the David’s Event Centre, Asaba; Friday, Dec 13.

Represented by Mr Paul Osahor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Aniagwu thanked the NUJ for the constitutional role its members have played in the society and hence recognized journalists as dependable allies for development.

He said the State Government will continue to lend hand of assistance and support to the NUJ in all of its endeavours.

National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguo in his response thanked the Delta State Government for the assurance to complete the centre in the record time hoping that the government will fulfill its pledge without further delay. He noted that it was on record that Delta State is the only State in Nigeria that does not yet have a permanent befitting Press Centre for practicing journalists, 28 years after the State was created.

The NUJ national president who was represented by  its National Trustee for South-South, Comrade John Agesse, said journalists in Nigeria will continue to carry out their constitutional role as watchdog of the society stressing that nobody can suppress journalists from carrying out that mandate “because once the Press is gagged, the whole society would be gagged”.

He recalled that in 1983, General Muhammadu Buhari, then as Head of State, established full terrorism against the Press for the 19 months of his regime and committed over 20 journalists to imprisonment. He also noted that the regimes of his successors, General Ibrahim Babaginda and Sani Abacha witnessed death and killing of journalists and committed over hundreds of journalists to imprisonment.

But in the face of such repression, the Press was the last man standing in Nigeria whose voice scared General Abdulsalam stiff and soft pedaled but lsmented that the second appearance of General Muhammadu Buhari as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is witnessing the “show of tyranny against the Press”.

Earlier, Chairman of the occasion, Dr Ignatius Nwanze who is the former Provost of the College of Education (Technical), Asaba noted that many people do not see journalists as friends and wondered why such people are afraid of journalists. He expressed pity on journalists describing them as endangered species but urged the NUJ to keep the flag flying.

In a series of lectures presented during the ceremony by Dr Emmanuel Biri and Dr Emmanuel Akpoveta, the duo highlighted issues of regulation of Social Media (Digital Journalism) and violence against journalists.

 

Dr Emmanuel Biri presenting his lecture on Digital Journalism during the occasion.

In his presentation, Dr Biri said the fear of Digital Journalism is the beginning of wisdom pointing out that Digital Journalism is ubiquitous, everywhere and asked,  if the government has nothing to hide why attempt to regulate it?

“Digital Journalism ensures ethics and moral standards are maintained, keeps public officers such as the Police, Politicians and Civil Servants in check of their behavior.” He explained.

He charged the NUJ to sit up and be ready to fight against regulation of the media assuring that Digital Journalism is the best way for people to express their views and warned that any government that plans to gag the press through a regulation legislation is only making preparation for an explosion of dire consequences that would negatively impact on national security, encourage corruption, promote sycophancy, destroy freedom of speech and conscience and promote terror.

“If not for the few who are enduring decent poverty, if not for journalists; from 1966, there would have been no democracy in Nigeria because all the politicians would run away. I call on all journalists who are true democrats but not enjoying democracy to stand firm and say no to regulation of Digital Journalism.” He said

Dr Akpoveta who represented Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi spoke on the issue of violence against journalists locating the cause on the profligacy of quacks in the journalism profession.

He said Hate Speech and Fake News which lead to violence against journalists are mostly propagated and promoted by quack journalist and hence, called on the NUJ to ensure that anybody permitted to practice journalism in Nigeria must be such that is trained and certificated in knowledge and character by a recognized media institution.

Chairman of the NUJ, Delta State Council, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu in his welcome address early on, said the NUJ, Delta State Council under his watch, for the past two and a half years, has made significant progress.

“We have been able to win back confidence of members as they now believe in the union to speak for them. We have been able to reposition the image of practitioners as we are now seen as partners in progress by those in public and private sectors. In playing our Agenda setting role and in keeping faith with our watchdog disposition, we have tried our position best to speak up when the need arises.”

He added that the union decided to raise fund in the ceremony obviously to compliment the efforts of the Delta State Government towards having “a roof over our heads” and expressed gratitude to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the untiring effort of his administration to deliver a befitting Press Centre that will be second to none in Nigeria “to us”.

Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of awards of honour and recognition to individuals and corporate organizations for their contributions to growth and development of humanity and society.