Japhet Alakam, Drama
It was another glorious moment for eminent personalities and members of the noble media profession last week, at the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Center Onikan, Lagos, as Diamond Publications, the organisers of the annual DAME awards, rolled out drums in celebration of her 20 years in business as well as the presentation of three new books written by Mr Lanre Idowu, journalist and publisher of Media Review.
The occasion which was graced by notable dignitaries, especially the crème la de crème of the media took off few hours behind schedule because of chaotic traffic situation occasioned by the Presence of President Goodluck Jonathan , who was in Lagos to meet with his British Prime Minister, HE David Cameron.
That notwithstanding, the event later proved to be a successful forum for some of the patrons of the industry, who used the opportunity to assess the media and its roles in Nigeria’s over all development.
Speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the occasion, Vanguard , Mr. Sam Amuka, said that Nigerian journalists had shown discipline, integrity and responsibility and deserved public appreciation..
He is of the view that Nigerian journalists had lived up to expectations as the watchdogs of the society in spite of many challenges. He therefore advised journalists to also appreciate themselves.
“Indeed the media is worth celebrating, in many respects because Journalists have behaved better than politicians but we do not appreciate ourselves. You must take pride in being a responsible journalist.
It is high time we appreciated those who have shown high integrity.” He said.. Amuka who was delighted with what Lanre Idowu, the Managing Director of Diamond Publications has done, commended him for being an official ombudsman of the Nigerian media.
The renowned media Chieftain,also charged the Nigerian Press to be courageous in the discharge of their duties, especially in the face of the recent telephone hacking scandal currently rocking the United Kingdom, while calling on third world leaders not to use the opportunity of the current events in Britain as an opportunity to clamp down on the press.
Continuing, he explained that though, the constitution of Nigeria identifies freedom of the press, but that what the press enjoys today is as a result of the agitation by some people in the law courts. “What is happening in Britain is a failure of law enforcement agencies and not of journalists, that distinction needs to be made.”He added.
Continuing, Amuka said: “The argument must continue daily in the print media for press freedom with the benefit of the press. This is why everybody must take pride in the kind of press we have in this country that is free and responsible enough to argue with power, but because of the pervading poverty, people are afraid to face the authorities.”
In his contribution, Nduka Obeigbena, Thisday Chairman and NPAN president said “As we speak, Rupert Murdoch and his cohorts at The News of the World being grilled by the British parliament.
This is an event which the American and British governments and other world dictators are interested in. It is an event which will have significant impact on the global media. The practice of journalism could be altered, altered in a way journalists may or may not like.”He reasoned.
On his part MD of Diamond Publications, Lanre Idowu thanked all for their presence at the media event especially on such a busy day in Lagos.
He stated that the focus of Diamond publications which joined the publishing business in 1991 is geared towards helping all in the media business and thanked God that despite the harsh economic conditions that have forced many media outfits to close up, that Diamond publications are still forging ahead.
According to him, there is need to celebrate the people in the media, and on that basis that, one of the books ;Nigerian Columnists and their art which documents some celebrated columnists such as Tunji Oseni, Reuben Abati, Nduka Irabor and Nosa Igiebor is published to help examine the activities of past columnists dating back to the 40s.
And also the need to have a regular appraisal of how the media is fairing according to him led to the publication of , Watching the Watchdogs. “In celebrating 20 years we have added three new titles that will nurture and build the profession.
So the people we are celebrating have in one way or the other contributed to the growth of the media and have to be counted and emulated.” He said.
The books were reviewed by three seasoned scholars, Prof. Adigun Agbaje , Prof Ayo Olukotun and Ishaq Moddibo Kawu .
Prof Ayo who reviewed the book, Watching the Watching Dogs, argues that journalism as a profession holds the mirror of the society but no one holds the mirror of the journalists, and therefore, that the book attempts to provide steady feedback to journalism and mass communication, as well as to serve as the watchdog of the society.
Ishaq Moddibo Kawu who reviewed Master of His Age, The Story of Anthony Enahoro pointed out that the book is about one of the most enduring names in the history of Journalism in Nigeria.
The book which is made up of 12 contributors talks about the man, Enahoro, his early years, political life, contributions and desire to end the colonial rule.
Prof Adigun Agbaje in his own review of Nigerian Columnists and their Art, titled, A view of the Treasury said that the colourful book with pictures of the 18 columnists serves many purposes to different people because it is a book in which excellent minds contributed.
According to him,”The scroll of names on the cover is a good source of information and the book tries to address the lackadaisical approach in record keeping in the country and provides us with records of 23 outstanding columnists and their works on diverse subjects.”
Dignitaries present at the event include: Gbenga Adefaye, President, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Dean of Satirical Journalism, Hadj Alade Odunewu; Chairman, Council of Legal Education, Justice Moronkeji Onalaja (rtd); Ambassador Segun Olusola; Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council, Mr Bayo Atoyebi; Professor Alfred Opubor, Chief Kayode Ogunmekun, Mr Victor Enahoro who represented the Enahoro family, Mrs Funmi Oseni and others.