By Abdullahi Yusuf
Wednesday, January 25, 2023, will go down in history as one of the finest days of His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.It will be joyfully remembered by the good people and Government of Kano State as yet another moment their Governor successfully hosted the creme de la creme of Nigerian Journalists who converged on Kano for a special meeting.
The event was the Special Delegates’ Conference of the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ) which was convened to ratify the amendment of the union’s constitution towards the realization of an updated and improved constitution of the union.
More than 300 delegates attended the two-day conference whose hosting was both historic and an honour to the Government and people of Kano State.
The event which held at the Afficent Event Centre located on Sultan Road,Kano,saw the
Governor expressing happiness to be in the midst of Nigerian Journalists in such an important gathering.
“It is indeed a great pleasure for me to once again be in the midst of members of the pen profession gathered here for this Special Delegates’ Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
“The decision by the NUJ to host this event here in Kano is a welcome development, both for the people and government of the state, especially when we consider the theme of the conference which is: “Conflict-Sensitive Reporting and Nigerian Journalism,” Ganduje said.
He told the meeting that Kano State is known not only for commerce,but also for Journalism practice, adding that his administration had always ensured excellent working relationship with practicing Journalists and the media in general.
“Kano State is noted not only for commercial and other activities, but also for journalism. We have always ensured an excellent working relationship with practicing journalists and the media in general, and also the freest environment for the expression of opinion.I therefore welcome you all to our historic city,” he said.
In order to strengthen that relationship, Ganduje informed the delegates that the State Government had constructed corner shops at the Kano State NUJ Secretariat to help serve as a source of revenue for the union, in addition to the standardisation of its conference hall.
“We have also released funds for the purchase of chord machine for the state- owned Triumph Publishing Company for possible resumption of daily publication of newspapers under its title that included The Triumph, Weekend Triumph, Sunday Triumph, as well as Albishir and Alfijir, vernacular and Ajami version of the publication, respectively for the benefits of our teaming Hausa readers.
“Also, the state television, Abubakar Rimi Television, has been digitised with supply and installation of state-of-the-art equipment, while Radio Kano studios have been fully equipped with modern transmission gadgets,”he said.
The Governor who was the Special Guest of Honour and therefore declared the occasion open,then noted that the Nigerian media had over the years come under serious criticisms “because of what Journalists do or do not do.”
“These criticisms are daily being amplified mainly because of the influence of social media on the profession. The advent of the multi-media platforms has brought so many challenges to journalism and journalists. It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe most of the stories that regularly appear on these platforms which many citizens rely on for information,” he said.
He pointed out that Journalists were, therefore, often being accused of lack of professional consideration while discharging their responsibilities, adding that, “regrettably, some journalists have failed to avail themselves of the opportunities being offered by social media to excel in their work.”
He advised that rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the social media craze, journalism must, as a matter of necessity, professionally interrogate every angle to a story.
Ganduje also urged the NUJ to take a second look at the breaking news syndrome which he said was negatively affecting the journalism profession.
“A situation where journalists unnecessarily compete with each other on who breaks the news first should not be an avenue where harm is caused because professional considerations are jettisoned. The notion of urgency or immediacy should not take precedence over the verification of sources;
“I therefore urge you all to be sensitive enough in the way and manner you report news, especially now that we are in an election year. While you are defending the principles of the freedom of information in the honest discharge of your duties, you must also ensure there is fair comment and criticism;
“You should strive to distinguish between factual information from commentary and criticism. We expect you all while reporting to do so according to facts that you are conversant with and know the origin of. Good quality journalism requires you to use only fair methods in obtaining data, information and images,”he said.
To achieve what he had earlier listed, the Governor stressed the need for the Union and all stakeholders to continue to update the Code of Ethics for Journalists and for Election Reporting, adding, “this is very important because of emerging trends in journalism. It is necessary if we are to keep abreast with international best practices.”
He also stated that the role of Journalists is very crucial for the survival of the nation’s democracy, especially now that the general elections are fast approaching ,adding that media professionals are therefore expected to comport themselves properly “and avoid joining politicians in overheating the already charged political terrain.”
Ganduje then reminded the media practitioners that professional journalism “requires that whenever you make errors, or you publish information which is found to be inaccurate, you have a compelling responsibility to rectify such immediately, explicitly and in a transparent manner. Whenever this is done, harm is minimized and respect is earned.”
He commended the decision of the union to amend its constitution during the conference “in order to have a document that will rhyme with the general line of orientation, globally.I charge you to do this properly and in tandem with the yearnings and aspirations of your members.”
He also said that the conference was held at a time Kano was bracing up for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari during which a number of signature projects executed for the citizens of the state would be commissioned by the president.
“We encourage you to take time off your schedule to see some of these projects. We are aware of your roles of holding those in authority to account for what they have done or have failed to do. We urge you to assess our administration on the basis of facts available on ground and not based on mere conjectures,” the Governor said.
He listed the projects as the multi-billion Naira Muhammadu Buhari Interchange at NNPC Mega Station Rotary Intersection, Hotoro; the multi-billion Naira Cancer Treatment Centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyu; the multi-billion Naira Dala Inland Dry Port at Zawachiki; the 10 Megawatts Hydroelectricity Power generation, transmission and distribution project in Bebeji Local Government Area; Teacher Reserved Area Housing Scheme (TRA) jointly funded by Family Homes Funds Limited and Kano State Government at Ungogo Local Government Area; and the multi-billion Naira Kano State Aliko Dangote Ultra-Modern Skills Acquisition Centre, Kilometre 7, Zaria Road.
The delegates indeed responded by touring some of the projects to include the Cancer Treatment Center,Giginyu and the President Muhammadu Buhari Interchange,Hotoro.
Earlier in his remarks,the state Commissioner for Information and Internal Affairs,Malam Muhammad Garba,described Governor Ganduje as a media-friendly Governor in view of his commitment to the enhancement of the welfare of Journalists and the Journalism profession.
The elated two-term NUJ president said the Governor had done everything to enhance the growth of the profession in the state, citing the equipping of the state-owned media – the Abubakar Rimi Television and Radio Kano, as well as the reopening and revitalization of the Triumph Publishing Company,among other gestures.
Similarly,the Chief Host and President of the NUJ,Chief Chris Isiguzo, thanked Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for his financial support and participation in the conference.
“This occasion would have been less attractive and exciting without the financial support and participation of our beloved Special Guest of Honour,His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State.
“Your Excellency,we shall cherish your kindness and support for a long time to come.Thank you very much, Sir,” the president added.
On their part, the delegates commended “the indelible imprints of the Ganduje-led administration in evolving good governance and giving the people of Kano State tangible dividends of democracy.
They made the commendation in the communique issued at the end of the conference.
In the document which was signed by the National Secretary of the NUJ,Shu’aibu Usman Leman(Walin Shadalafiya),
the conference also expressed appreciation to the government and the good people of Kano State for providing the enabling and conducive environment for a successful hosting of the Special Delegates’ Conference.
What started well had ended very well.The Administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar has scored yet another sound press relations goal by successfully hosting an NUJ Special Delegates’ Conference as anchored by the State Commissioner for Information and Internal Affairs,Comrade Muhammad Garba.