BY AUSTIN OGWUDA
Asaba — Information Minister, Mr. Labaram Maku, Thursday, spoke on the controversy surrounding the formation of the Nigerian Press Council, assuring that it was not meant to gag the media as was the case during the military era.
This came as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim and Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan expressed concern that the country was shifting from an oil economy to a non oil earner.
They both spoke in Asaba, Delta State, yesterday, at the 9th edition of conference of Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, with the theme, Nigeria Beyond Oil: The Role of the Editor.
Maku said: “Today, the press is operating in an atmosphere of freedom, as it is free to discuss and debate any issue and that is what it should be. The freedom of Nigeria was founded by journalists such as Dr. Nnmadi Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo and several others to propagate our freedom.
“But we must also be worried about the quality of our profession and where it is going to. This is not something that can be regulated from the top but something that we must concern ourselves about. Each time the Press Council is mentioned, there are a lot of misunderstanding, it is hard for people to understand because you know that under the military, the intentions of the Press Council were different. They were to control and ensure that you will not practice journalism. I remember journalists were hounded into detention because of Decree 4. At a point, all the editors of New Nigerian Newspapers were in jail when Gen Ibrahim Babangida took over in August 1985.”
Anyim on his part charged the editors to look at how best to cushion the effect which non-oil approach would have on the country.
He said: “Whether we like it or not, we are transiting from an oil Nigeria to non oil Nigeria and if we fail in this duty, the society will pay for it. What makes Nigeria thick is today found everywhere in Africa. This means that the forces of demand and supply will force the price to fall.”
Governor Uduaghan noted that the Nigeria crude oil production was facing a serious challenge that needed to be addressed.
He said: “Our oil production is threatened on two fronts. First, illegal bunkering and there is no underestimating the havoc this is causing. The International Energy Agency recently sounded the alarm that Nigeria has been losing about $7 billion annually to vandalism of pipelines, oil theft and illegal bunkering.
“The chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparent Initiative, Mr. Ledum Mitee, said recently while presenting the organisation’s audit report of the oil and gas sector that between 2009 and 2011, the country lost about $11 billion to activities of oil thieves. The figures may differ but the sums are huge.
“Nigeria crude oil production is also facing another challenge with the discovery of alternative in Shale gas. Right now, that resource is evolving and it is believed that in future as the technology to explore it matures, it will become more commercially successful and a real competition to the crude oil in the international energy market.”
Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye, in a paper entitled Economic Renaissance in Nigeria: A non-oil approach, said “although Nigeria’s economic growth in the last several years has been anchored on growth in the non-oil sector, President Goodluck Jonathan recognises that more work needed to be done to entrench and sustain the contributions from this section and ensure that there is an enabling environment for private sector investments.”
At the event were Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka; Publisher of ThisDay Newspapers, Chief Nduka Obaigbena; Dr. Tony Iredia; former Nigerian Television Authority Director General; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, who chaired the occasion; Mr. John Momoh, Chairman, Channels Television; Delta State deputy governor, Prof. Amos Utuama; Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Victor Ochei, state commissioners among others.
Globacom commends Nigerian media
Meanwhile, leading telecommunications service provider, Globacom, has commended the resilience of the Nigerian press and urged media practitioners to hold tenaciously to the ethics of the journalism profession.
In a goodwill message to the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Globacom noted that the Nigerian press had done so well that Nigerians were proud of their achievements, especially as they have contributed to the unity of the country.
The company promised to always identify with the Nigerian media practitioners in their projects that are geared towards building a better society.
The company said in a statement “We wish to congratulate our brothers of the Fourth Estate of the Realm on the occasion of their annual conference. Globacom is proud of the achievement of the Nigerian media and we salute the courage, fearlessness and resilience of the media professionals in this country. We are particularly happy to note that the Nigerian media can compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere in the world. On our part, we will continue to identify with the media in every way possible.”