Today and indeed, this epochal event has brought great joy to the leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Akwa Ibom State and beyond. As a veritable market place of ideas and a platform for mental fertilization, the media is always in dire need of seminars/workshop for members to be attuned to the ever challenging responsibilities of informing, educating, enlightening and entertaining.
It is on this note that we deeply cherish the floating of this workshop by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited with the theme “Professionalism, Media, Ethics and Responsibility in Sustaining Democracy and Deepening Oil and Gas Operations Reportage.”
It must be noted that Mobil has consistently driven its activities as a responsible corporate citizen. Under my leadership, Mobil has assisted us with 75 laptops and has today given us this workshop. We recall that Mr Oge Udeagha, Manager, Media & Communications of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, had upon his appointment not too long ago, paid a visit to us and that meeting laid a framework for further assistance which will touch on various areas of development efforts at the Press Centre. It is on this note that we wish to express our appreciation to Mobil for its kind assistance in sponsoring this workshop and do also look forward to other levels of support.
Let me use this moment to further congratulate and welcome to the NUJ Press Centre, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko, Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, who is our special guest of honour and will also declare the workshop open. We also welcome all our guests and the speakers as well as Mr, Edward Ogude, Vice President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone F (South South Region).
The significance of this workshop cannot be overemphasised. Workshops help to galvanise the media and outline ways in which it can be successfully utilised to advance development and global peace.
It is unarguable that the media drives development in all spheres. The state of development of every society is largely a reflection of the thought pattern of its citizenry. And a major invigorator of the thought pattern of the citizenry is essentially the Press. This demands that the Press should therefore act as an enlightened agent to drive peoples thinking positively and to also leverage on the management of the State.
At the celebration of the 2015 World Press Freedom Day, the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a joint statement, further amplified that “Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power. For this, journalism must be able to thrive, in an enabling environment in which they can work independently and without undue interference and in conditions of safety.”
However, free press places a huge responsibility on practitioners. This informs strict ethical compliance as enunciated by the Code of Ethics for journalists. The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) as a responsible professional body, have in furtherance of its Constitution, set up Ethics and Disciplinary Committee to arbitrate on complaints bordering on professional misdemeanour and acts of indiscipline by members.
For us in Akwa Ibom, we are concerned about the unethical activities of some online writers and some local tabloids with no identifiable addresses which have tended to blur public perception and appreciation of the media industry in the State. We hasten to say that they are not our members and where any of our members are involved in any unprofessional act, we will accordingly exact appropriate discipline.
Let us reiterate that genuine and professionally minded journalists, who are our members, have respect for the norms of the profession and do take the health of the society seriously without allowing breaking news to break the society. It is necessary to align our professional duties to public peace, unity and development.
This is why we have engaged our members on a number of training and retraining to keep them abreast with the challenges in the profession. Currently, 20 of our members are undergoing a two-week course on Oral Communications and Writing at the Talent Business School. We need support to keep these training on in order to accommodate more members to keep pace with demanding realities.
Once again, we welcome you to our fast transforming International Press Centre which is made possible by the State Government. We remain grateful to the immediate past Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio for his numerous supports which have brought about the transformation in the Centre. We will have the opportunity to take you on a facility tour to see our Mini Club House, the Fence/Gate House and two-storey office complex under construction. We seek Mobil and the Speakers’ signature in the ongoing development of the Press Centre.
May God bless us all.
-Being an address of welcome presented by Elder Patrick Albert, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of a Two-Day Workshop sponsored by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Operator of the NNPC/MPN Joint Ventures at the NUJ Press Centre, Information Drive, Off IBB Way, Uyo, today, Wednesday, August 26, 2015