The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday urged the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to help in nurturing the nation’s democracy.
Akpabio made the call in Abuja at the Foundation Laying Ceremony of the Editor’s Plaza of NGE at Guzape District in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
The former governor, who said that the Nigerian journalists, have made enormous sacrifice for the restoration of democracy, appealed for their support in deepening democratic culture in the country.
“ The democracy we are enjoying today was brought by journalist and some of you had to pay a supreme sacrifice in order to see us enjoying this democracy.
“ Each time I see a journalist, I always say thank you for enabling us to participate in changing the society; If not for your sacrifice and resilient, there would have been no democracy in Nigeria.
“ Therefore, journalists must help us to even nurture this democracy; you must help us to maintain this democracy irrespective of who is in power and who is not in power.’’
Akpabio, who was the chairman of the occasion, said NGE as gate keepers could make or mar the nation’s democracy, and advised against sensational headlines.
He stressed the need for members of NGE to promote national cohesion and peace in their daily reportage and mentor the younger ones that are coming on board.
“ Let your headlines be patriotic in all respect, let us try our best to ensure that whatever we publish will enhance peace and unity in the country.
“ Sometimes a lot of people don’t border to read the main story they just go for the headlines and that is where the gatekeepers and editors role come in.
“ The kind of headlines some editors cast will make an investor who is on his way to the airport turn back and say the country is not safe I am not going there.
“ There is a kind of headline you give that people will not bother to read the details of the story and they will carry weapon and say no I must avenge,’’ Akpabio said.
He said that Nigeria was passing through a very difficult time, which underscores the need for bipartisan thinking, saying “ I feel strongly that Nigeria must remain one and united.”
“ Let me say that Nigeria will pass through these challenges; no matter what happens, this country will survive.
“ I always tell people that political parties come and go but Nigeria remain permanent and let us try to ensure love even among the guild and we should engender love and unity in our headlines.’’
The lawmaker commended the NGE for conceiving and nurturing the idea of building such an edifice that would provide enabling environment for media practitioners to discharge their constitutional responsibilities effectively.
“ This is indeed an uncommon project that will definitely bring about uncommon transformation to the host community.
“ I want to assure you that with my presence here, the life of the guild can never be the same again,’’ he assured.
President of NGE, Funke Egbemode said the plaza was designed to accommodate a five-star event centre, commercial office building and offices for NGE executive members.
Egbemode said that the foundation laying ceremony was a dream comes true as it was a massive project that could cost N350 million to put the structure alone.
“ We are not fazed, not scared, we know we can do it. Nigerian Editors are determined to roll up their sleeves and work at this.
“ We also have friends who always see us as partners. We believe we can do this and we will.
“ The journey will be long, we know, but we know the destination is sure,’’ Egbemode said.
She commended the past presidents of the guild, who initiated the idea of the project more than 10 years ago, assuring that she would work to actualise the project.
The ceremony was attended by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture; Mr Bayo Onanuga, Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Mrs Abike Dabiri, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.