Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has called on media professionals to demonstrate utmost objectivity in their reportage in view of the critical role they play in ensuring peace and stable polity.
Ikpeazu made the call on Friday in Umuahia during the grand-finale of the 2019 Press Week, organised by the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abia council.
The governor, who was represented by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, urged journalists to be mindful of the key responsibility society places on them as the realm with the power to control the information flow.
He asked: “What kind of information do you put out to the public as a professional journalist? “Are you in the habit of disseminating only bad news about the state or the federal government on any issue?”
Ikpeazu, who expressed concern over the growing trend of blackmail by the media against government at all levels, urged them to be circumspect in the discharge of their duty.
He, however, said that journalists in the state had acquitted themselves remarkably by going the extra mile to present balanced reports to the public.
The governor assured the journalists of the continued effort of his adminstration to provide the enabling environment for them to perform their duties without let or hindrance.
“We believe in the freedom of the press, we believe that people have the right to hold their own opinion.
“So nobody will be harrassed in the course of doing his job as a journalist in Abia,” he said.
Sen. Theodore Orji, representing Abia Central District, urged social media practioners to acquire the basic training in journalism in order to discharge their duty professionally.
The former governor of the state, who was represented by Mr Jerry Uzosike, member representing Umuahia South State Constituency, commended journalists for their critical role in promoting unity and development in the country.
He promised that he would not support any legislation in the National Assembly that would be geared towards gaging the press.
Mr Okiyi Kalu, the Commissioner for Information, charged journalists to embrace Information Communication Technology so as to enhance their skills in modern day communication and achieve greater milestones in the profession.
“You that are professionals should improve yourselves and involve in blogging
“Try to distinguish yourselves as journalists from those who only own social media account and claim to be journalists,” he said.
The Chairman of the occasion, Chief Gabriel Onyendilefu, expressed worry about the challenges of the social media in the society.
Onyendilefu, who is a Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, urged journalists to help the government by criticising constructively and reporting objectively for the progress of the state.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Chief Obinna Ibe, the Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel, said that the week was the period journalists set aside to evaluate their performances within one calendar year.
“It is a kind of self-appraisal, to reflect on what we (journalists) have done rightly or wrongly in our daily reportage in line with the ethics of our revered profession,” he said.
Ibe said that it was also a time to honour men and women who had carved a niche for themselves in their various chosen careers.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of Abia NUJ, Mr John Emejor, commended the chapel for a successful press week.
Emejor, who was represented by his vice, Mr Mathias Nwogu, tasked journalists on developmental journalism.
Highlights of the event was the presentation of awards to three distinguished personalities for their contribution to humanity and society.
The awardees included Sen. Orji, the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Aham Uko, the Transition Committee Chairman of Aba South Local Government Area, Dr NCNC Okoli, and Chief Okey Nzenwa, the Chief Executive Officer of the revived Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, Umuahia.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the theme of the Press Week was “Challenges of Social media to mainstream media in journalism practice in Nigeria.”
(Edited by Sam Oditah)