Lawmaker Urges Journalists To Be Professional; Eulogies Governor Otti

Hon Ume with Journalists in Abia State

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The member representing Umunneochi Constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Mathias Ume has urged Journalists  to be professional in their reportage so as to build public trust for a better society.

Hon. Ume stated this during the 2024 Annual thanksgiving service of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abia State Council in Umuahia.

The legislator, Ume who also commended the state Governor, Dr Alex Otti on his achievements in less than one year in office urged the press to always observe the ethics of journalism to avoid misinforming the people but promote good governance.

Hon Ume who also doubles as Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Planning as well as Member, House Committee on Media and Publicity urged the members of the forth estate of the realm to join the campaign of the “New Abia” through responsive and responsible journalism.

Attached is the Hon Ume excerpt:

“THE ROLE OF THE PRESS: THE NEW ABIA PERSPECTIVE.

Firstly, let me honestly thank the entire body NUJ Abia State chapter, for the singular privilege given to me today, to start with you, the new year 2024 with thanksgiving to the Almighty God.

About eight months ago Abia State witnessed a remarkable change of Government from a given set of people who had dominated governance in the state for 24 years, to a brand new set of people ably led by His Excellency Dr. Alex Chioma Otti. This perhaps informed my choice of the phrase “New Abia”. At this point let me commend journalists in the State for their resilience and exhibition of professionalism towards the eight months journey of Abia to the promised land.

The present administration in Abia has an enormous task ahead, among which is the resurrection of what a former Governor of the old Imo State, General Ike Nwachukwu rtd, referred to as “virtually dead state”.

To achieve this, journalists in the state have a greater role to play. Firstly, they have to make sure that citizens of the state are properly and correctly informed to prevent them from acting ignorantly or out of misinformation.

Secondly, they have to upgrade on what I called their “checking function”, whereby to ensure that the elected representatives in the new Abia uphold their Oats of Office and carry out the wishes of Abians who elected them. It remains the fact that the backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media. These role capsulate, to inform, criticize and stimulate debate. As a British Journalist Mark Twain once said “stupid people-who constitute the overwhelming majority of this and all other nations- believe and are convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies”. 

My underlying concern here is credibility. For the media to be credible it has to take responsibility for getting its facts right. That involves digging deep, getting different sides of a story by engaging a range of people and checking their facts vigorously. The media should not hesitate to root out and expose lies, propaganda, hypocrisy and corruption but it has to be sure of its facts before doing so

Credibility also means avoiding exaggerations just to “sell” more news. Most importantly, stories based on rumors or sourced from someone or opposition parties, who have an axe to grind, are what people joke that “you can’t believe anything you read in the papers”. Being responsible not only means telling the truth, but also abiding by the law. Investigations have revealed that when the press drifts into law- breaking, then it loses the respect of its readers /listeners. 

For the press in Abia to champion the “New Abia”, I am not advocating for the old order whereby all the roads in Abia were, built, all the hospitals and schools were built and equipped, all salaries and allowances of Civil servants/ Pensioners in Abia were paid and security situation in Abia was improved, all in our radio/TV stations including the pages of the newspapers, while Abia and Abians continued to suffer, die and decay on daily basis.

Gentleman of the Press, for the media to perform optimally, it has to be encouraged maximally. On the other hand, to the government and any person in the public eye, there is no need to fear or

be defensive about the press. If a politician dislikes criticism from the press, then he is definitely in the wrong job. As a British politician said many years ago, “for a politician to complain about the press, is like a ships captain complaining about the sea”.

Development means, at its core, achieving equitable growth over an extended period. For equitable growth to occur there has to be tolerance and accountability.

For accountability to thrive there need to be a healthy press, devoid of “brown

envelops” from political avengers. A press that progressively monitors governance and freedom of speech to enable discourse. Freedom of the press is at the very base of this pyramid. And underlying all is democracy”. END.