By George Onah
PORT HARCOURTâ€”The Nigerian Guild of Editors, has said Nigeria has just survived the throes of death from militancy, sayingÂ that the nation will only know peace when peace returns to the Niger Delta region, adding that the nation was waiting to heal its self-inflicted wounds.
â€œOnly when we achieve that,Â can we do good business that will transform other spheres of our economic life,â€ President of the Guild,Â Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, said in his speech at the conference of the Guild in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday. He drew attention to the fact that â€œthe people under whose soil the oil is found have wailed for justice, to the extent of resorting to self help, if only to draw our attention to their plight.â€
Similarly, Minister of Information and Communications,Â Prof. Dora Akunyili, has said Nigeria, like most other nations, remains a work in progress and that journalists should ensure that the work does not become an abandoned project, adding that Nigeriaâ€™s independence was won â€œmostly on the controlled violence of the pen of Nigerian journalists.”
According to her, â€œthis violence of ideas and the word was what saved us from the physical violence of guns and bayonets. The nation, therefore, owes a debt of gratitude to the profession of journalism.”
This debt is, however, not like that of the global multilateral agencies.â€
Adefaye, further said, said in the course of wanting to find solution to the challenges of the region, the country had set up series of commissions and committees but all these agencies and outfits, we are yet to get it right in regard to the deluge of problems in the region.
â€œThere must have been more committees or commissions on oil and Niger Delta than any other subject in Nigeriaâ€™s historyâ€. He paid tribute to late PresidentÂ Musa Yarâ€™Adua for introducing amnesty for the militants.
Chairman of the conference,Â Maj-Gen. IBM Haruna said the theme of the conference â€œOil and Gas, Post Amnesty and the Nigerian Editor,â€ was apt and called on the Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and Post Amnesty Implementation Committee not to fail in rehabilitatingÂ and absorbing former militants in gainful employments.
Akunyili drew attention to the fact that â€œjournalists have a greater stake in the Nigerian project than most other professionsâ€™ because your forebears were the ones that suffered imprisonments, exiles, newspaper closures, siege on radio stations by coup plotters while some paid the ultimate price,Â trying to serve their fatherland.â€
â€œEditors as senior members of the profession have a moral duty to operate above the adventurous level of their reporters and correspondents and be a lot more sensitive to the glue that binds us together as a nation,â€ she said.