Journalists should be fair to all- Shema
Published On 29 Aug, 2014 At 03:48 PM | With 0 Comments
Governor Shema

Governor Shema

Speech  Governor of Katsina State, Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, delivered at the 10th ANEC in Katsina.

Let me start by expressing my profound appreciation to the organizers of the 2014 All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) for choosing Katsina State as a host of the 2014 conference.

As you are aware, Katsina is the home of hospitality. We do hope that you will have a nice stay in our historic city. I wish to welcome all of you and assure you of our resolve to make the event one of the best in recent times.

When the idea of hosting the conference was muted, I was highly delighted. It is an honor to host Nigerian Editors Conference because of the role of the media in advancing democratic norms and values.

The traditional role of the media in educating, informing and entertaining the citizenry is all encompassing and strategic, especially in a democratic society where individual freedom, openness and transparency in government are enshrined.Democracy is a knowledge-based political system. Therefore, information and education are important components of any democratic system.

On the surface, entertainment may appear not important to democracy. But on a deeper analysis the relationship between entertainment and democracy is a strong one. Let us consider political songs or drama that promote violence or defaming of political opponents. As journalists will you play such songs to entertain your listeners? What are the implications of playing such songs and drama to peaceful co-existence?

As journalists you should promote individual freedom especially freedom of expression. But freedom has never been absolute. Unfortunately, many politicians think that it is their right to say or write whatever they want even if it amounts to assassinating the character of their opponents. Freedom of one individual cannot compromise that of another under democracy and rule of law.

In advanced democracies, citizens are cautious in their exercise of their freedom of expression because the judiciary is very protective of the rights of all concerned. But in most African societies people are reluctant to go to courts and claim damages because going to court is largely seen as going too extreme in pursuance of justice. But this should not be the case. In fact, this is the more reason why judiciary is an integral part of democratic system.

Journalists are human beings with interest and institutions. To what extent do you, as Editors, uphold the ethics of your profession ­­     that the truth is sacred? For me, you have just one challenge: TO BE FAIR TO ALL. And you have just one watch word: FAIRNESS. Whatever you do, you should ask yourselves these questions: AM I FAIR TO ALL THE PARTIES INVOLVED? AM I FAIR TO THE SOCIETY? AM I FAIR TO MY COUNTRY?

The above questions are important because not everything that comes to your way is worth publishing. That is why you are called Editors. You are gate keepers. The more garbage you allow into your media houses, the more the houses lose reputation and respect, nationally and internationally.

In Katsina State, since I became Governor, we take education seriously because education is the soul of society. Democracy cannot thrive in an unenlightened society. This is why my administration spent over N11billion Naira to complete the Umaru Musa Yar’AduaUniversity. We also built 34 Girl Child Primary Schools, Constructed 260 Conventional Secondary Schools and over 100 Primary Schools. Education is not only free in the state, but the government also pays the WAEC, NABTEB and NECO fees for all students. The Government has also sponsored 700 students abroad for different courses.

Residents of Katsina State are also aware of how we re-engineered the State Radio and Television for effective delivery of services. We believe in freedom of expression as a foundation of robost debates and engagements with a view to finding solutions to our problems.

To promote good governance in the state we also addressed important sectors of the economy especially roads and infrastructure. This administration executed 58 road projects including the ring road. We also invested N3.8 billion in the Songhai Agricultural project to introduce and sustain modern methods of farming which is the key to food security and higher income for farmers. This is in addition to youth empowerment programmes especially the Youth Craft Village which has trained over 5,000 students in 18 different trades such as computer maintenance and networking, GSM repairs, auto-mechanic and electronics, leather works, film making and photography etc. The government has also constructed over 2,000 houses and a standard 35, 000 seaterstadium to ensure the physical development of our youth.

Existing water supply schemes have been expanded and new ones constructed. Also over 3, 000 boreholes were constructed in rural areas. In the energy sector, 75 megawats windmill solar powered projects are ongoing in the state.

It is interesting to note that we completed all the projects initiated by my predecessor especially the State University, TuraiYar’Adua Maternity and Children Hospital, Airport, water and electrification projects, 8 road projects before we started new ones. To execute these projects and new ones initiated by this administration, we did not borrow a kobo. I repeat we did not borrow a kobo, from the inception of this administration in 2007 to date. We used the money of the state to develop the State. We also pay N240 million every month as pension and have implemented N18,000 minimum wage, using the best scale in the country as testified by state and national labour leaders. Workers in the state get their salary between 22nd-25th of every month.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can take the whole day reeling out our achievements as a democratic government. But there is no time for that. Fortunately, I learnt that a tour of the state has been organized for you. I expect the organizers to take time to take you round. We shall talk when you come back.

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