23rd ACCE Conference: Stakeholders harp on inclusion of communication in STI developmental goals


By Chioma Mbah

The 23rd Annual International Conference of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) has ended with a call from stakeholders for the inclusion of Communication in Science, Technology, and Innovation, agencies of government at all levels.

The conference was held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, with the theme ‘Communicating Science, Technology and Innovation in times of economic distress, terror and pandemic’ attracting scholars from all over Nigeria.

In his speech, the National President of ACCE, Prof Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu observed that Nigeria continues to struggle in its development march because its science, technology, and innovation agencies have not been able to mainstream communication in its growth process.

According to him, the conference seeks to explore how journalism, broadcasting, new media, and public relations can effectively play their role in the nation’s development process.

“Nigeria as a country of many paradoxical conditions being worsened by bouts of banditry and political mismanagement can find solutions in science, technology, and innovation of which the ACCE will lead in the discourse of its developmental role.

“The conference seeks to explore ways journalism, broadcasting, new media, and public relations can effectively play their roles in the nation’s development process,” he added.

The Chair of the event and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) at Paul University, Prof. Chinyere Okunna, in her opening remark said the theme of the conference is apt considering the challenges faced by the country across all spheres.

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“The economy has collapsed, there is insecurity, terror and the nation is in distress.

“I hope that the scholars and discussions at this august event will speak to the theme and proffer solutions to the teething challenges,” she said.

Okunna used the opportunity to encourage young scholars to recommit to research, writing, and academic exercises that will boost their knowledge and empower them to contribute significantly to educational advancement in the country, reminding them that diligence still pays off in the academic world despite various forms of examination malpractices and other short cuts to success.

She said, “I hear that some of you are not writing or publishing any materials nor attending any conferences. Some are paying people to include their names in publications to gain recognition when they have contributed nothing to the work. During our time, the emphasis was on single-author publication.

“Nowadays, I hear ten of you writing one paper. Some don’t even contribute any ideas, yet their names are included. You are killing yourselves.

“I’m also aware of honest ones among you who are making us proud. Academics is a field where diligence is rewarded. I urge you to rise to your profession with honest diligence.”

On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Charles Esimone, ably represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) Prof Joseph Ikechebelu, said the university will continue to provide the platform for gainful engagements that will better the lots of the citizenry.

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He commended the leadership of African Communication Education for honoring the university with the hosting rights right of its 23rd Annual Conference.

According to him, “our quest to pilot Nnamdi Azikiwe University to national and global prominence leans heavily on research, particularly transitional research.

“We, therefore encourage our departments, Faculties, and Centres to hold and host conferences, workshops, and other academic discourses as avenues for disseminating research findings.

“You can therefore understand our appreciation of this hosting right?

“Communication, as a means of exchanging information by speaking, writing, electronic or other media, is the life-wire of any community, be it human, animal or even plant communities.

“I believe that the purview of ACCE is Africa, and it is in that context that I see the theme of this conference, ‘Communicating Science, Technology and Innovation in Times of Economic Distress, Terror and Pandemic.’

“Many decades after the demise of colonialism in Africa, many African countries, including our country, Nigeria, are still lagging painfully behind in all indices of development, despite being endowed with abundant natural resources, giving rise to the so-called resource curse. Even in the best times, we have been unable to keep pace with the latest developments in science, technology, and innovation.

“This unfortunate, but self-inflicted predicament is exacerbated by the extant economic distress, terrorism, and pandemic, sweeping across many African countries, Nigeria not exempted.

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“I, therefore see this conference as an appropriate forum to come up with recommendations that could address this regrettable situation.

“For this, the ACCE has the unenviable herculean task of inducing in the political leaderships, the disposition and the will to carry out recommendations made for the good of the society vis-à-vis the theme of this conference.”

The keynote paper presenter and associate Professor of Health and Environmental Communication, Dr. Herbert Batta, in his presentation, r aised consciousness over the need to unbundle the mass communication profession to speak to specific communication aspects, especially in the areas of science, technology, and innovation.

He regretted that there are not enough higher institutions with comprehensive curricula to drive the unbundling process but called for stakeholders to work towards the initiative.

A participant at the event, and traditional ruler of Igbakwu, Prof Onuorah Nwuneli harped on the need to integrate STI in the training curriculum for communication educationists.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the HOD of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Dr. Cornelius Ukwueze, described the occasion as a time of reunion of old-time practitioners and friends.

The induction of new scholars into ACCE and the administration of the oath of allegiance formed the high points of the conference.

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