By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel has charged journalists to set agenda that will influence an informed position of the electorate on their choice of who become the next set of leaders in Nigeria.
Governor Emmanuel stated this while declaring open a 4-day retreat organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council at Roses Regency Hotels and Suites, Abuja on Monday.
The governor who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong, said the advice became necessary as Nigeria is in a critical stage of its economic and political development and requires the right leadership to save it from eventual collapse.
His words, “It is often said that a young man looks up because he is looking into the future, while an old man looks down because he is trying to locate a place for his grave. We’ll bury our country if we make wrong choices on leadership.
“Let me therefore, urge you to apply your search for a better Nigeria through responsible journalism to Akwa Ibom. This is because a working Akwa Ibom would become a catalyst to a working Nigeria”, Governor Emmanuel stated.
He noted that as much as the media plays an important role in the development of any given society, unverified and subjective reports can mar this importance of being the conscience of the society and render it useless.
According to him, a pliant press does no good to a society, and therefore, advised journalists to adopt the 4-way test of Rotary Club in their operations, while also reiterated his pledge to continue to ensure an enabling environment for objective journalism to thrive in the state.
Commenting on the theme of the retreat, “In search of a better Nigeria through responsible journalism” the Governor expressed optimism that the outcome of the retreat would better place the participants on the discharge of their duties as noble practitioners and nation builders.
He also cautioned the electorate against voting politicians that would further destroy and bury the country, saying, “any attempt by electorate to make wrong choice in 2023 will take the country many years back.”
In his remarks, the state chairman of NUJ, Comrade Amos Etuk noted that on October 1, 2022, Nigeria would celebrate 62 years of nationhood and in the past six decades, the country has been bedeviled with poor leadership.
“Comrades, it is quite sad that a country once described as the Giant of Africa, is now palpitating in slumber. A country once rich in agriculture can barely feed our citizens today. 62 years after, a country that was the sixth largest producer of crude oil has now become a major importer of our economic mainstay.
“A country once bound by love and unity, is now divided along religion, ethnic and suspicious thoughts. Our leaders now sacrifice competence in leadership because of their selfish interest to clinch onto power forever. Our leaders have eroded the principle of federal character in appointing people into positions of authority. As a people, we are now floating on double-digit inflation figures, insecurity, dead economy where our currency remains on a free-fall.
“Nigerians have lost faith in leadership at all levels. The final road that will make or mar our future will be how credible the outcome of the electoral process will be in 2023 if the same set of leaders will allow the Independent Electoral Commission give a level playing field to all candidates.
“At the moment, Nigeria is on a reverse gear, we are a nation without direction and the responsibility to reset the country lies partly on us. As members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, we must rise to ensure that we become actively involved in the next leadership recruitment process for our ailing country, Comrade Etuk noted.
Earlier in a welcome address, Chairman of Correspondents’ Chapel, Comrade Idongesit Ashameri pointed out that the retreat was to remind members of their role in holding political leaders accountable and reminding them of their electioneering promises to the people.
Ashameri regretted that most journalists are quick and thrilled to give the best colouration and in the most appealing ways to such promises by politicians which sadly most of them fail to fulfill.
“But the question is how often do we consciously remind governments at all levels of the need to ensure a congruence between their policies and programmes in office with the electioneering promises earlier made to the electorate through our various media organisations.
“Gentlemen, this is where our responsibility comes in. This outing is therefore designed to afford us the opportunity to retrain our members on the rudiments of responsible journalism especially as the general election approach.
“It is our expectation that carefully selected world class scholars, captains of industries, core professionals and enthusiasts in their various fields would drill us and do justice to this timely theme. We have no doubt that this outing would also afford us the opportunity to be re-equipped with techniques and skills on how best to track, consciously remind and hold government accountable to it’s electioneering promises
Our correspondent, who was among the participants at the retreat, observed that the Chairman of FCT, Abuja Council of NUJ, Comrade Emmanuel Obeche also gave his goodwill message at the event, represented by the secretary.