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Expert lampoons NUJ for dishonouring Dele Giwa many years after death

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Dele Giwa

Abia State journalists, last week, converged on Umuahia, the state capital, to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. With “Information as a Public Good” as theme, a communications’ scholar, Dr. Sunny Mbazie, was guest lecturer.

At the event, Mbazie, who is of the University of Port Harcourt, decried the inability of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to honour and immortalise the late Editor-Chief of Newswatch Magazine, Mr. Dele Giwa, many years after his death.

He said by such act, National NUJ is not “encouraging the living,” while, “politicians are recklessly being given awards by many media houses.”

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Mbazie noted that information is a public good that is necessary in individual and nation’s development, stressing “a free press is the purveyor and custodian of such public treasure and behooves on all stakeholders to protect press freedom.”

He urged the setting up of Journalism Rights Commission to handle issues of attacks against journalists in Nigeria, enact a law to shield journalists to ensure anonymity of sources of information, re-activate the extant law on journalism practice and amending the press council law.

For effective free press, the Freedom of Information Act should be amended to repeal those cumbersome sections that do not ensure speedy supply of information necessary to meet deadlines in newsrooms.

Chairman of the state NUJ Council, Comrade Victor Ndukwe, said that the event afforded journalists opportunity to reflect on press freedom and the ethics of their profession and also remind stakeholders, including government, of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

He said that this entails free access to news sources and promoting the welfare of the practitioners with a view to enhancing media objectivity, including taking the lead by properly equipping government-owned media houses, training and re-training of their staff.

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To effect ‘Information as a public good,’ Ndukwe said that practitioners must communicate truth, peace, justice and fairness to all, adding that imperatively, public officers should make required information available to all segments of the society in order to put all on same page, and thus, eliminate mutual suspicion, stressing that by so doing, the society will be devoid of fake news, security challenge and singing in discordant tunes.

Chairman of the occasion and former state Commissioner for Information, Sir Don Ubani, tasked practising journalists, civil society organisations and governments to synergise in critical areas of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu, Professor Onyemachi Ogbulu, represented by Prof. Udo Nwokocha, urged journalists to be more professional and shun acts inimical to the business of journalism.

While the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, described Abia as one of the states where freedom of the press thrives without any form of suppression and intimidation from the government, Mr Onyebuchi Emememka who is the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, posited that there cannot be ideal democracy without palpable press freedom and appreciated the cordial relationship between his office and journalists in the state.

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