For the second time, under the Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration, Rivers State will be playing host to the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), a body of distinguished media practitioners of the Directors’ cadre.
Specifically, it is the 13th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC) slated for Wednesday, 20th September to Sunday, 24th September, 2017 at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, among other dignitaries are expected to grace the occasion.
The conference is expected to attract delegates from the 36 States of the federation including the FCT.
According to a statement released by the General Secretary of the NGE, Victoria Ibanga, the theme of the conference is “Nigerian Media: Balancing Professionalism, Advocacy and Business”.
Unlike what had been the trend in the recent annual conferences, where issues of national discourses take a centre stage, this year’s event is a clear departure from the previous conferences.
The focus this time around is on the media as a major stakeholder in the nation’s democratic project.
Apart from deliberating on issues of welfare and professional ethics, the Guild shall be scrutinising its draft Constitution on the first day of the conference as promised by the President of the NGE during the Lagos convention in April this year.
Suffice it to say that the conference in Port Harcourt is significant in many ways. It attests to the peaceful and hospitable disposition and nature of the Rivers people against the background of the campaigns of calumny by some few disgruntled political jobbers.
The willingness by the Rivers State Government to always welcome this cream of Media Managers who have over 20 years of wealth of experience in the journalism profession and a high sense of integrity in the media industry, is a proof of a Governor who is transparent, accountable and press-friendly.
The visit, of course, will afford the men of the fourth estate of the realm an opportunity to observe, confirm and report accurately of their findings on the security and developmental situation in Rivers State.
The forum will also provide opportunity for the Rivers State Government to market its potentials and generate socio-economic activities directly and indirectly during the period of the conference.
The hosting of the Guild of Editors is also a veritable platform to showcase some of the outstanding projects of the Governor Wike-led administration, especially the beautiful network of reconstructed roads, bridges, hospitals, educational facilities, markets, motor parks, Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, security facilities, among others.
More so, the forum would create opportunity for mutual interaction and exchange of banters with the government and people of the state and the visiting journalists.
I recall the experience last year when some of the journalists who attended a similar conference in Port Harcourt, were pleasantly amazed by the simplicity and supersonic performance of the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike. This eventually opened the doors for the avalanche of meritorious awards he had so far received in two years of his administration.
There is no gainsaying that the desire of the Guild to always carry out their professional meetings in Rivers State is an endorsement of Port Harcourt as one of the most peaceful and tourist destination in Nigeria.
It is also important to state that Rivers State, as the goose that lays the golden egg, deserves to be treated fairly, especially in the allocation of federal projects by the Federal Government, to justify, encourage and reciprocate the positive disposition of the Rivers State Government and people towards a united Nigeria.
The terrible state of the federal roads in the State, especially the Eleme-Onne axis of the East West Road, should be a source of concern to the media practitioners in their reportage as a means of compelling the Federal Government to not only commence work on them but ensure remittance of money spent by the Rivers State Government on federal roads in the State.
The clamour for true federalism is no doubt a way out of the current wave of discontentment, disillusionment and agitation in the Nigerian project.
The media must avoid partisanship and sectional bias in the discharge of their functions, in spite of ownership factor of the media organisation. Playing to the gallery in reporting events will endanger and cripple the growth of the journalism profession.
If the campaign for national unity must be successful, the Press must see it as a duty to be a voice for the marginalized minority and the politically deprived segments of the society considering the nature of our national politics.
In doing these, the media would be fulfilling its obligations as the watchdogs of the society and engender the social, political and economic wellbeing of the nation.
It is on this note we should all join hands with the Rivers State Government to welcome the delegates of the Nigeria Guild of Editors to the Treasure Base of the Nation.
Damgbor is a Director, Rivers State Civil Service, and member of NGE.