Welcome address delivered by Ovie Edomi

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Welcome address delivered by Ovie Edomi, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, South-South International Magazine at the 8th Annual Lecture and Award Ceremony held Friday June 27, 2014 at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

The Honourable Information Commissioner, Delta State

The Director-General of NIMASA

The Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron

The President of TELL

Our distinguished chiefs

Distinguished invited guests

Members of the PRESS

Ladies and gentlemen

It has been eight good years that you have been on this great journey with us, a journey during which you have had to grace our annual lecture and award ceremonies. All I have seen all these years along with our team of Editors and Board of Directors shows that we have ardent supporters, avid readers, true friends and mentors. This was why we never gave up in our publishing business no matter the obstacles we face in this big battle called journalism. I have come to discover that what determines whether one will win or lose a battle in life or business is who one chooses as an ally.

Distinguished guests, let me, on behalf of the South-South International Magazine, warmly welcome everyone present here for finding time to attend this ceremony; we are deeply grateful to all of you here seated. When we look back, we can say that it has been great. The present is wonderful but the best is yet to come.

One thing that my masters and mentors taught me is to remain dedicated to excellence, victory and, keep doing things that can make the world a better place. I thank Messrs Onome Osifo-Whiskey, Nosa Igiebor and Joshua Okpo (all three men journalists though Okpo is now a public servant) for teaching me this. I equally thank Festus Keyamo, Fred Majemite, Adeniyi Adebisi and Prince Tony Momoh for standing by us in times of trouble. Without these lawyers, Fustus Keyamo especially, and God, we would have been silenced and thrown out of the newsstands into the roaring seas that have consumed many media houses in Nigeria.

It is important to appreciate these people whose names I have just mentioned because the task of reporting in Nigeria is very daunting. Many have fallen by the wayside but God kept us on. I cannot forget to welcome and thank also some of you seated here, including my teachers who helped to catapult me to this level.

I want to use this opportunity of welcoming our distinguished guests to recommend this same thing which my masters taught me in journalism to our up and coming journalists. I am passionate about the up and coming journalists because they are the gate keepers/nation builders of tomorrow. I believe that we can run a government without the costly meal of the House of Representatives if the press lives up to its responsibilities. But I am worried at the moment that the press which Nnamdi Azikiwe,Ernest Okolie, Babatunde Jose, Dele Giwa as well as Lateef Jakande, Olatunji Dare, Dan Agbese, Ray Ekpu, Tony Eradia and other illustrious gentlemen bequeathed to us is far from what we see today. I have been accused severally that the press of today is not as vibrant as the press of the post independence and military era. And I have tried to defend the 21st century press, especially with the advent of social media. However, I am worried that in the zeal to carry out the reporting business, some reporters negatively hubnob with politicians and some in the process allow themselves to be used to promote biased reporting and equally the negative values of the profession. While journalists are also PR men, it is worrisome that in the desire to serve as Information commissioners, Press Secretaries and Special Assistants on Media and even Minister of Information, some of our media practitioners tilt or even abuse the values of the profession to serve the interest of their media owners (employers) as well as politicians. This is not good for our profession. It is wrong to serve two masters at the same time.

Journalism has produced great men in this country. An editor in the 60s and 70s was more influential than some federal ministers then. How times have changed! While I am glad like every other journalist that members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm are getting government appointment, I wish to request with every sense of responsibility that practising journalists must not allow themselves to be used to promote sensationally “toxic” journalism and biased reporting, especially now that Nigeria has too many security challenges.

Election violence has always been a key issue in Nigeria, beginning from the first republic. And with 2015 general elections, now fast approaching, we must do everything as journalists not to add to the list of the challenges for our beloved country. I do hope that those of us {journalists} that are coming after the likes of Uncle Sam Amuka, Dan Agbese, Ray Ekpu, Nosa Igiebor, Onome Osifo Whiskey, Tony Eradia and so on will take journalism to another level of pride.

Our politicians must shun politics of bitterness. They must put personal interest aside and work for national interest. Therefore, the lead lecture for today’s event is very germane to our present democracy. Interestingly, the lead lecture is going to be handled by Sam Omatseye, one of our distinguished sons from the Niger Delta who is prepared to use his pen to take Nigeria to where it should be.

I am very convinced that you will go home better informed than you came after the lecture. Let me, on a final note, state that those who want to rule us, come 2015, must come with their manifestoes or clear intentions of how they want to bring positive changes to our beloved country.

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