Gentlemen of the Press,
I stand on the existing protocols,
Greetings in the loving name of our Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose from death for our redemption. Thank you very much for inviting me to be one of your special guests to this Anambra State Media Executive Summit. Tight pressure of work from several quarters of my Diocese and beyond would not have allowed me to attend this Summit, but for the regards and respect I have for the Media and their responsibilities to our society.
This Summit on Objective Reporting & Unionism in a Digital Era would not have come at a better time than, when the nation and indeed the entire world are going through the crucibles of misinformation and misrepresentation of facts in telling the stories of real incidents and happenings across the globe.
The social media operated by you journalists battling to overrun and even submerge the traditional media have thrown professionalism to the winds, sensationalism is now the order of the day, objectivity, fairness, and responsibility are now compromised in the reportage of events. This has encouraged people in positions of trust and authority to no longer be accountable to the people. Some have even starting growing thick skin and dismissing news from some quarters as “fake news”.
We are worried over what is happening with the Media as the Watch-dog of the society. The Journalists have a duty to be responsive and hold governments accountable to the people. Being the voice of the downtrodden and voiceless, the Journalists rallying under their formidable Union, the NUJ, should develop strong muscles and even pull triggers to bring to its knees any government or individual that toys with the Mandate of the people.
As Nigeria prepares for the 2023 polls, the Media should go extra mile to fully educate and inform the electorate on the corrupt background of some of the candidates, why and how they have become unelectable. However, some Journalists because of their level of education and exposure, appear not properly equipped to launch media war against the things and people that cause disorder, disunity and disaffection in the country.
This is where the NUJ comes in, to constantly organise training and retraining of members for improved performance in a digital environment. The Pen is no doubt mightier than the sword and so the Journalists should realise the weight of the powers they exercise. They have power to turn black to white, complainant to accused in any given situation.
This reminds us of the role played by a section of the media when the Anglican Communion had issues with the location of our property at Oyolu Oze at Nkwelle Ezunaka. Facts of the matter were shamelessly misrepresented, objectivity and fairness were thrown to the winds, some of the feature writers then became prisoners of conscience having compromised the ethics of the Journalism profession. At the end of the day, they have all been placed on the wrong side of history with truth and facts which are sacred placing back our property fully on ground.
Journalists therefore should always flow with justice, equity and fairness in their operations while rallying round the NUJ to fight for their cause whenever their rights are trampled upon. Together, we all fix a new Nigeria where all acts of criminality, cheating and corruption will be fully exposed and dealt with while freedom of expression, equality, and equity will be the rights of all.
The government of the day in Anambra under His Excellency, Prof Chukwuma Soludo should take serious steps to right the wrongs of the past in Anambra State. We will want to see Government appointments and provision of amenities devoid of religious bigotry and segregation. We want to see the Government of Soludo give equal opportunities of employment to all citizens of the State irrespective of their political or religious affiliations. We are glad that he promised to be principled, honest and just in his administration of the State.
The Government should urgently address the obvious inequalities, injustice, marginalisation and deprivations in the education and health sectors of the State to give every section a sense of belonging. This is the only way to make Anambra liveable and prosperous while the Media should join hands with the Government to tackle the issue of insecurity in the State.
No doubt, our Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo has started well. However, we all want to see him work with an all-inclusive team to roll out reforms, initiatives, and strategies that will turn around the State for the good of all.
Thank you once again for this rare opportunity to address you. May the Lord bless you all. Amen.
Rt. Rev. Dr Owen Nwokolo
Bishop on the Niger