Owerri confab: Editors commit to press freedom, defence of democracy

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The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has recommitted itself to creating the enabling and sustainable environment for press freedom and protection of journalists’ rights in order to ensure the sustainability of democracy and good governance.

Conscious of its constitutional and social responsibility, NGE also said its commitment to professionalism would help shape the narratives, influence public opinion and help forge a society that thrives on transparency, inclusivity, justice and a system of government that is accountable to the citizens.

In a communique issued at the end of its two-day national biennial convention, which took place in Owerri, Imo State, last weekend and signed by the President, Eze Anaba and the General Secretary, Dr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the editors added, “In a rapidly evolving media landscape, where information flows at an exceptional pace, the role of journalism in shaping good governance and democracy had never been more crucial than now.”

“We, as journalists, bear the enormous responsibility of providing accurate, reliable and unbiased news to the public, thereby fostering transparency, accountability and public participation in the affairs of our nation.

“The 2023 general elections marked a decisive turning point for our nation’s democracy. And as we embark on this new phase, it has become very necessary that editors – as gatekeepers -recommit themselves to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and integrity.

”We must be the precursors of truth, holding those in power accountable, while providing a platform for diverse voices and perspectives,” the editors stated.

While examining the role of journalists in the 2023 general elections at the convention, titled “Post-2023 Election: Promoting Professionalism for Enhancement of Democracy and Good Governance”, attended by 400 editors across the print, broadcast and online media, editors recommitted themselves to the watchdog role of the media.

According to the editors, “This is to ensure that public office holders are closely monitored in order to live up to the expectations of the people.

The NGE added: “To achieve this, we must prioritise continuous professional development and capacity building. As journalists, we should strive to stay updated on emerging trends, technological advancements and ethical standards within our industry.

”This national convention serves as a demonstration of our shared commitment to excellence and the pursuit of knowledge.

“We intend to collaborate and foster partnerships not only within our ranks but also with other stakeholders in the democratic space; engaging with civil society organizations, government agencies, and international bodies in order to build bridges and intensify our mutual impact.

“By doing so, we will be in strategic position to continue to create an enabling environment that upholds press freedom, protection of journalists’ rights, and ensures the sustainability of democracy and our profession.’’

The editors commended Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, who declared the elective convention open; for creating the conducive environment for the successful national biennial convention.

The peaceful elective convention saw Eze Anaba, the Editor of Vanguard Newspaper, securing 250 votes to emerge as the new President, defeating his only opponent, Bolaji Adebiyi, Executive Editor, Western Post; who polled 81 votes.

Other members of the new executive elected include Husseina Akila Bangshika, Deputy President; Sheddy Ozoene, Vice-President (East); Umoru Ibrahim, Vice-President (North); Dr. Kabir Alabi Garba, Vice President (West); Dr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren, General Secretary; Gabriel Akinadewo, Assistant General Secretary; Steve Nwosu, Treasurer and Charles Kalu, Social/Publicity Secretary.

Standing Committee members elected are Onuoha Ukeh; Paulyn Ugbodaga; Oluwole Sogunle; Dom Isute; Rose Moses; Chinedu Egere and Mohammed Sanusi Jibril.