HATE speech, no doubt, is a hostile comment aimed at condemnation and destruction of persons, organizations and society. It is an evil approach to communication and a tempest capable of capsizing or rocking the boat of state or nationhood.
To tackle this menace to the unity of persons, state and nations, and to forestall its negative implications, Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ) , Anambra State Council, deemed it necessary to focus on “Party Politics, Hate Speech and the Media” in this year’s Press Week.
The event, which was held at Godwin Ezeemo International Press Centre, behind Central Bank of Nigeria, Awka, on Monday had journalists and dignitaries within and across the country in attendance.
Prominent among them were the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano and wife, the founder, Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE), Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme), ably represented by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C.Don Adinuba, the President, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, ably represented by the Vice president, Zone C, Prince Petrus Obi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Anambra Newspapers & Printing Corporation, Awka (Publishers of National Light Newspapers), the Secretary, Zone C, Mr Kenneth Ofoma, the chairman, NUJ Anambra State Council, Emmanuel, Ifesinachi, the Secretary, NUJ Anambra State Council, Emma Udeagha and the Vice President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists(NAWOJ), zone C (South East), Chibota Edozie, among others.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occassion and flag bearer, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra-East and West Federal Constituency race in the forth coming House of Reps Election , Chinedu Obidigwe, commended the council for organizing such a wonderful occasion and for choosing such a theme, frowning at hate speeches emanating from over-ambitious politicians and paid journalists
According to him, the problem we are having in Nigeria party politics is over desperation on the side of stakeholders, party aspirants or candidates. It is as a result of party politics that people engage in rigging process, vote buying and other absurd activities to subvert the perfect process of Nigerian politics.
Worse still, most politicians have gone a long way to pay impostors, impersonators and claimed journalists who are not registered with the Nigerian Union of Journalist but own blogs to write all manner of things just to pull their opponents down. They write what they cannot prove when called upon to do so.
Obidigwe described hate speech as capable of capsizing the boat of politics and called on the press to be in constant watch over this trend and take appropriate measures in checkmating them so as to make the state a peaceful place for social, economic, religious, political and other activities.
He stressed the need for journalists to cross check facts before dishing it out to the public, stating that most of our politicians have gone a long way in twisting the arms of reality, to convince and even pay journalists to report or write against the reality actions.
In his own remarks, the governor of Anambra State, ably represented by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightment, C. Don Adinuba, commended the high level of unity, solidarity and social harmony created and sustained in Anambra State by the press.
According to him, Anambra state is widely accepted as a pace setter state not only in Nigeria but also in the international community in the areas of security, infrastructural development, education, including the press. From the first tenure till now, there has been no journalist from Anambra State castigated or arrested for obnoxious reports.
He enjoined journalists from outside Anambra State to borrow a leaf from the press in Anambra to promote peace and harmony across the Nigerian nation. He further stated that the only way Anambra State Government will appreciate the synergy between the state and the press is by having the interest of every journalist in Anambra State at heart, whether of Anambra origin or not. Which the government has demonstrated often times
“The Government of Willie Obiano has made sure that those neglected retirees from ABS, including National Light received their long owned pensions from 1991 to 2017.
While commending Journalists who always stand for truth and justice; refusing to participate in the campaign of disinformation, Adinuba frowned at those journalists who received bribe to write all manner of lies against Governor Willie Obiano.
Adinuba disclosed that the assertion that Gov Obiano is a denominational fanatic was never true. According to him, the school in question has always been a government school, a fact verifiable from those who were in the state in the sixties and seventies.
He enjoined them to desist from such act, an act which has tried to set the state ablaze, adding that no one should compromise the harmony and peace the state had been enjoying under the leadership of Governor Willie Obiano.
The National President, Nigerian Union of Journalist, Chris Isiguzo, who was represented by the Vice president, Zone C, Prince Petrus Obi, in his address, commended the executive council of the state for the fit achieved so far. He called on Journalists to be objective in their reportage, especially as the 2019 general elections draw near.
He urged journalists to use this press week to look back and reflect on the journey so far.
According to Isiguzo ” The success of this coming general election, to a large extend, depends on journalists. Objectivity must be the watchword. Facts must be sacred. As journalists, we must not forget our role as agenda setters. “People take what we write seriously. We must be careful of what we believe and must draw line with our dealings with politicians by not being partisan.’ He pleaded with media organizations to look into the welfare of Journalists.
Chairman, NUJ, Anambra State Council, Sir Emma Ifesinachi, in his address, commended the state government under the leadership of Chief Willie Obiano for his unflinching support and solidarity to the union in the state which culminated to the successful outing recorded this year.
Ifesinachi appealed to the political class to save Nigeria from any manner of setbacks, rather gear efforts towards bringing peace and unity she deserves by avoiding hate speech, name calling and character assassination before, during and after the 2019 election.
“We expect that their political campaign should be issue based for the good of the Nigeria society. INEC, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders should display fair and credible general election, especially in Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.” He said.
He tasked journalists to up their game by being responsive and responsible, through disregarding those speeches capable of derailing a peaceful election in the country come 2019.
“NUJ and INEC should come to terms to ensure that we live to tell a good story of the 2019 general election,” he concluded.
On his own part, National Light MD, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, emphasised on the need for absolute fairness and objectivity.
. He urged journalists to be mindful of the audience and society through educating the society to understand the media. “ We should do more on enlightening the society on what journalism is.”.
He however condemned the dichotomy existing between the Permanent and adhoc Staff in terms of recognition, citing as examples the exclusion of two staff of National Light- Late Mr. Michael Amadi and Late Sir Obi Nwude, among the deceased members of the NUJ in the year 2018. He appealed to the council to recognize the services of all staff irrespective of status as permanent or adhoc members in the spirit of service
The guest speaker and Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr Allen Nnanwuba Adum, while lecturing on the year’s theme, thanked the members of the council and all present for honoring the occasion which he believed would help them in upgrading their professionalism.
Taking the audience through the relationship between the state and democracy cum elections, he emphasized that the international community pays a high premium to democracy and that election is the dynamic through which the electorate decide the direction of governance in any given state by pacing credible candidates in positions of authority and that these are done through partisan politics. In this way, the electorate are guided by competing political parties to make their choices through voting. In view of this, the task of journalist is to be neutral.
In his vote of thanks, the Secretary, NUJ, Anambra State Council, Emma Udeagha, thanked everyone for making the day memorable one.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of award to Osodieme Eberechukwu Obiano and Chief Chinedu Obidigwe.
The press week was however, ushered in with a special church sevice at the Cathedral Church of St. Faith, Awka.
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