By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has challenged the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to leverage on its credibility over the years to regain its competitive edge in the media industry.

The Minister gave the charge yesterday, during his visit to the headquarters of NAN in Abuja, as part of his tour of Parastatals under his Ministry.
”I have come with just one message to you today: The News Agency of Nigeria must regain its competitive edge and play in the big league.’
‘’ I recal that a few years back, NAN was dominant in the country’s news architecture, and was widely quoted within and outside the country as a source of credible news.

”Today, it has lost that edge. In an increasingly competitive news environment, only those media organizations that exhibit creativity in their approach to the news business will excel, and NAN has what it takes to excel,” the Minister said.

He said NAN, the national wire service that was established in 1976, must show more hunger for the kind of news that cannot be resisted by subscribers.

”It must go beyond a bland reporting of the news, beyond front-loading its cast with mostly news about the activities of government. It must become the first source of credible news about Nigeria. A situation where Nigerian media establishments quote foreign wire services for events that occur in their country is a big blow to NAN, which should ordinarily fill that void,” the Minister said.

He challenged NAN to uphold its editorial policy, which includes that news and comments emanating from the agency must be truthful, honest and fair, but must not jeopardize peace and harmony in the country.
In accordance with the enabling policy, he posited that NAN cannot be neutral in any matter affecting the sovereignty and unity of the country.

According to him, NAN has largely maintained its credibility over the years, hence must leverage on that to bounce back to the top league among national and even international news agencies.

”It must show more passion, more hunger and more creativity. Since the news business is dynamic, the agency must train and retrain its staff to mould them into top class professionals,” he said.

He insisted that the agency must strive to become Africa’s top national news agency, which will be ”first with the news on Nigeria, and indeed Africa.

Earlier in his address of welcome, the Managing Director of NAN, Mr. Ima Niboro, said that the agency is currently undergoing re engineering to re-position it for the challenges of the 21st century.

He also said that NAN is rehabilitating its satellite communication system with a view to modernizing it so it can effectively serve the needs of the news agency.
”The ongoing reform is fundamental in providing a modern working environment, including the provision of equipment and tools, training and retraining of its high manpower,” he added.

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