The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) Thursday called on the federal government to adopt necessary measures in tackling the insecurity bedevilling the country.
The editors bared their minds at a two-day conference in Abuja, with the theme “Media in Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus.”
And at the event, Group Managing Director Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Mele Kyari announced that the corporation had mobilised contractors for the fixing of Port Harcourt Refiney, while same would be done for Warri and Kaduna. Hide quoted text
Also, NGE President Mustapha Isah said while the media continue to challenge the government to up its game, the editors must also play their role in providing solutions to the festering crises.
Speaking at the event, veteran journalist and Chief Executive Officer of MayFive Media Limited, Mr Ray Ekpu, who chaired the occasion, said the federal government was deliberately playing politics with insecurity by refusing to implement recommendations by different committees set up to find a lasting solution to increasing insecurity in states across the country.
He said: “The problem that we are confronted with is the failure by our leaders to respect the tenets of democracy, the gross partisanship in the system, the huge corruption, the reckless carpet crossing, the creeping authoritarianism, the loss of trust in government due to leadership failure and the lack of respect for diversity and inclusivity.
“If you condemn separation, as I do, you must also condemn what gave birth to it: injustice, unfairness, lack of equity, parochialism and prebendalism. These have deprived our country of its binding force which ought to be justice and fairness to all our countrymen and women.
“You cannot have peace without justice. You cannot have development without peace. These are triplets: peace, justice and development. They work together for the good of all societies.”
Ekpu also described as shameful and embarrassing, the exportation of crude and importation of refined products by Nigeria, even when the refineries could be fixed.
To this, the foremost journalist said “we should cover our faces in shame” as a nation.
NNPC boss speaks
And in a response to the challenge posed by Ekpu, GMD NNPC Kyari said the inability to fix the nation’s refineries was a consequence of the elite’s greed.
The NNPC boss said: “We will not cover our faces in shame that we produce crude oil, but yet import petroleum products. We will face our problem. We will face it for what it is. What it is that we do have very significant and huge security problems in the country, particularly in the oil and gas sector. We all can agree to this.
“I can also say boldly that it is an elitist problem. The reason is very simple. Since the establishment of Nigerian refineries, since 1999, every attempt to carry out turnaround maintenance of NNPC refineries ended up in one form of misfortune or the other.
“Why did that happen? Because processes are wrong, elites are greedy. They will not let things be done the way they should be done, culminating practically in the destruction of these refineries. We can blame NNPC personnel, we can blame contractors and others, but the key reason is that, when you dig down, you will realise and accept that we couldn’t just allow the refineries to work because we can’t. We are not allowed to do so.
“Of course, we recognise when things change. I can tell you that things have changed. In the oil and gas sector, as you may all be aware, for the first time in its history, the NNPC has succeeded to be allowed to do things the way they should be done. The one thing that we should have done is to fix these refineries.
“Now, I can confirm to you that we have taken responsibility and we will fix these refineries. We have started the process, contractors have been mobilised for the Port Harcourt refinery. They will also do so for both Warri and Kaduna refineries. So, before the end of this year, they will deliver.”
On his part, Director-General State Security Service Yusuf Magaji Bichi, represented by the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Dr Peter Afunanya, urged the editors to define story lines and set an agenda that would determine the progress and unity of Nigeria.
He said: “My DG has asked me to remind you that you are critical and strategic partners in project Nigeria. He has asked me to remind you that as critical stakeholders, all hands must be on deck to mould Nigeria to the desired destination.
” We share the same sentiment and we believe that as editors, you define story lines. The kind of agenda, the kind of narrative that you set would determine the progress, the unity of our nation.”
Also in a message, Inspector-General of Police Baba Alkali called for partnership for national security and development.
Represented by Force Public Relations Officer CP Frank Mba, the IGP said, like security agents, the media were always out there in moment of crisis chasing story.
“There is more convergence of the security agencies and media than convergence. So for me, I think we must find more creative ways, more ingenious ways, more productive ways of collaborating, partnering and working together to advance a course of our national security, national consensus and national development.”
Earlier in his remark, President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, (NPAN), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, who was represented by Publisher Blueprint Newspapers, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, said the association was working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure newsprint is affordable, adding that ombudsman will be appointed for media houses to regulate the media industry.
He said the association was also working on co-regulating of its member organisations on to tackle “quackery and fake news” within the newspaper industry.
On the excruciating cost of newsprint, Yusuf said NPAN was in talk with the CBN to ensure newspaper owners “get foreign exchange at the official rate. Similarly, we are working towards ensuring one of our moribund newsprint mills is resuscitated.
Earlier in his remarks, NGE President Isah had underscored the enormity of security challenges facing the nation.
He said: “There is no doubting the fact that insecurity is one of the major challenges facing Nigeria today. The entire country is engulfed in one form of crisis or the other. Every day, front pages of newspapers are replete with headlines – bordering on insurgency, banditry, kidnappings on the highways and schools, farmers/herders clashes, as well as the known and unknown gunmen.
“Lives are being lost; the economy is bleeding, and scarce resources , which ordinarily should have been used to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit, are being deployed to tackle the security challenges. The nation can’t continue like this.
“The media cannot afford to be aloof at this time of a national crisis. we have to be part of the solution to insecurity, which has become an existential threat to this great nation.
“The theme of this conference says it all. We should rise from this conference with a resolve to be part of the solution.
“The Nigerian media has a rich history of rising up in times of national challenge. We played a major role in the fight against colonial rule. We were in the forefront in the fight for the restoration of democracy. This fight led to the death of some journalists, with others imprisoned and media houses shut.
“So, we are currently facing another national crisis and the media must play a significant role in finding solutions- through our consensus building and agenda setting roles.”
In our cover story of Friday, October 22, 2021, we erroneously quoted the NNPC GMD Mele Kyari as saying ‘Port Harcourt refinery will be ready by the end of the year.’ However, we have since realised the GMD said: ‘We ‘ve mobilised contractors for Port Harcourt refinery’ and made necessary amends to that effect . We apologise to Malam Kyari and indeed the NNPC.