It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the opening of the 19th All Nigeria Editors Conference, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The Nigerian Guild of Editors is a body of the elite in the journalism profession and I feel honoured to be in the midst of this great corps of professionals who play an enviable role in shaping public opinion.
I salute the founding fathers of the professional body, led by the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, a revered journalist, who in 1961, thought it wise, to birth this prestigious forum. I also salute all the past executives who have kept passing the torch, with their laudable contributions to the growth of not just the profession, but also, to the sociopolitical development of the country. Indeed, the role of the media in delivering the country from the jackboots of the military and achieving democratic rule cannot be over-emphasised.
I also commend the present Standing Committee of the Guild, led by Mr Eze Anaba, Editor of Vanguard Newspapers, for its strides since the beginning of its tenure months ago. Noteworthy is the initiative of the first annual Lateef Jakande Annual Lecture held in Lagos in honour of the late sage, whose footprints in the profession as well as the political terrain remain indelible.
We look forward to more of such efforts to make the present generation to learn from the ideals of our past heroes, in the drive to achieve a better society.
The choice of the theme of this year’s ANEC, Stimulating Growth, Technological Advancement: Role of the Media, is an indication of the interest of the NGE in the search for a more enduring nation, as the economic situation is an issue that must be of concern to all.
The strategic importance of inviting global and local institutions to partner with the Federal Government towards the growth and development of Nigeria is commendable. In this regard, it is pertinent to state that since the inception of the present administration on May 29, 2023, we have swung into action with strategic policies aimed at boosting our economy.
The removal of subsidy on petrol and the convergence of the foreign exchange rate were inevitable decisions to save the economy from suffocation. Though Nigerians are going through tough times in the short term, it is a necessary sacrifice that we must make to guarantee a better future.
That is why we have put in place palliatives and other measures to cushion the effect of these hard times, which is a bridge to the renewed hope agenda, where we will all have lasting smiles on our faces as we turn the tide together.
I am happy to see the gathering of eminent personalities at this conference, not to mention the brainstorming sessions where we can share great ideas that will lead us to our desired destination. The feedback from this conference will no doubt contribute to our quest to achieve a better Nigeria.
I am acutely aware that this year’s conference is unique as it coincides with the launch of the Guild of Editors Media Trust Fund, which is aimed at engendering a robust conversation on the state of the nation’s economy. Because of the unique role the Nigerian Media plays in our democracy and our economy, it enjoys a pride of place in our country’s constitution as encapsulated in Chapter 2 Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Due to technological advancement in this digital age, where information flows ceaselessly, the responsibility placed on the shoulders of editors is burdensome. The power to influence opinions, to illuminate truth, and to guide public discourse rests within the words you choose, the stories you tell, and the perspectives you highlight. The convergence of traditional and digital media provides us with new avenues to engage and inform the public. Let us therefore explore these tools in order to bridge gaps, amplify voices, and foster a more informed citizenry and inclusive society.
Promoting discussions on stimulating economic growth in our country is a central focus of my administration, and needless to say, that we need the collaborative efforts of our information gatekeepers in this endeavour, which essentially aligns with our Renewed Hope Agenda
As earlier stated, due to the economic impact of the removal of fuel subsidy, our Administration has been taking all necessary measures to alleviate the resulting pain, through interventions that are designed to serve as palliatives in the short and medium-term, while we await the long-term benefits of these reforms. Some of our interventions include:
With the benefit of the foregoing, your role as a primary source of information and keeping the public informed about economic trends is therefore cut out for you. Timely and accurate reporting helps businesses make informed decisions, fostering a conducive environment for growth.
I urge you to provide positive media coverage that can enhance investor confidence and attract the needed investments that fuel economic development in our county. The media’s role in portraying a favorable business environment contributes to the stability of financial markets.
Due to your role in setting agenda for the government, the Media on its own can advocate for policies that promote economic growth and technological progress and follow up on these advocacies through robust engagement on your various platforms.
Also, against the backdrop of evident systemic moral decline over a long period of time, leading to the erosion of national values, it is my pleasure to inform this esteemed conference that the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation (FMINO), is working to change the narrative in our country through the implementation of a sustained mass reorientation campaign that aims to foster unity, patriotism, and the promotion of positive cultural values among Nigerians.
We will seek to collectively reorient ourselves as Nigerians, in the direction of a stronger sense of national identity and shared values. I will therefore appeal to our editors to support the campaign for moral rectitude among Nigerians.
As you are aware, we are faced with the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation and false narratives which threaten the fabric of our society, and it is our collective duty to combat this menace. Through fact-checking, responsible reporting, promoting media and digital literacy, we can fortify our defenses against the corrosive effects of fake news.
Before I conclude my remarks, let me restate the commitment of our administration to a free and robust media without any intention to stifle press freedom. But we will expect you to operate within the framework of the ethics of journalism and to conduct your activities with utmost sense of duty, patriotism and responsibility.
I hereby congratulate the Guild once again on this 19th ANEC and use this opportunity to restate our commitment to the freedom of the press and the provision of the necessary environment to enable the media to perform its constitutionally assigned role of holding the government accountable.
I, however, urge you, esteemed editors, to be vigilant and help in ridding our media space of the ills of fake news, misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information, which portend great danger.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to declare the 19th All Nigeria Editors Conference open.
Thank you, and may this conference be a catalyst for a new era of excellence in Nigerian journalism.