Thank you for the privilege to be part of the history you’re making today. The next time you’d have a chairman for this conference would be in 3 years. This means whatever I say as chairman of this conference, whether good of bad will last for 3 years. If it’s so good, it can last forever. I hope it does.
I would have loved to speak extemporaneously but I’ve since learned to put my words in writing, especially when speaking with Journalists because my words would be on record, whether or not I wish it. Therefore, I’d rather have what I meant to say published than what was said that I said, which I didn’t mean. You get what I mean, right? So I have taken my time to write in simple English devoid of ambiguities.
Ladies and gentlemen, your theme: Nation Building, Democracy and the Journalist is suggestive of 2 challenges and another.
First, there is the challenge of Nation building. Then there is the challenge of the journalist in a democracy under fire, not just any democracy, as we should ordinarily assume. These challenges, to my mind, lead to the 3rd challenge: The Challenge Of Truth: The Duty Of The Journalist To Speak Truth To Power, Under Fire.
Journalists are said to be the conscience of society and members of the fourth estate of the realm for one fundamental reason: they will not compromise the truth; they will say what they see, they will speak truth to power under fire and damn the consequences. Of course, the extreme consequence of damning the consequence of speaking truth to power as expected is to pay the ultimate price, if not for anything, for the common good.
How many of us here see ourselves as being in that mold? You don’t need to answer. It’s a rhetorical question that must be left to itself within the deep recesses of our conscience to prick and to guide us.
Today, Nigeria’s democracy is on trial and like Judges of sorts and the conscience of the people for sure, you must rise to dispense justice, to take responsibility while giving voice to the voiceless also helping to establish the noble wishes of the majority and to amplify, which is the whole essence of democracy.
Daily people are being killed in Nigeria because the Federal Government is playing politics rather than delivering governance to Nigerians.
Let me pls crave your indulgence to read a press statement of Amnesty international on the state of affairs of Nigeria: