Some clients have been sent to prison in the past, due to weak or wrong defences by lawyers. Elsewhere, patients deaths are linked to unprofessional conduct by medical personnel. But as for the fourth estate of the realm, the media wields a powerful influence in the society. Fake news or wrong editorial judgement could be more fatal because it could set society on fire.
The crackdown on secessionist agitators by security personnel over calls for Nigeria’s disintegration arising from non adherence of diminished values for law and order portends wreckage of a troubled Country in uncertain times, which indeed is worrisome.
Like the ancient Philosopher, Nostradamus, who saw tomorrow, ahead of others, some leaders of thought among veteran Journalists in Nigeria in search of answers in this season of anomie and disenchantments decided to build bridges across the troubled waters and cobbled together the League of League of veteran Journalists (LVJ).
The group assigned to itself the specific responsibility to providing advisory roles to young practicing Journalists and strict adherence to objectivity, fairness in their reportage as the watchdog of society by promoting justice for all and good governance, shortly after the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) was born on March 15, 1955 in Lagos State.
But over the years, journalism practice has evolved, with emerging challenges which have either almost eroded free speech or abused free speech in meeting set targets and mitigating emerging problems in the 21st Century as encapsulated in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution which dwells on the freedom of the Press.
Giving the role of LVJ in societal development, 89-year-old veteran Journalists, Elder Josiah Obadigie who had anchored a special Column during the Coronation of the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty, Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory in 1979 in the Nigerian Observer Special Publication, offered himself to serve as Chairman of Edo State Chapter of League of veteran Journalists. Edo State Chapter was born in 2016 after few years of informal meetings by some elders in the profession.
On Thursday April 29, 2021, members of LVJ converged on the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council in Benin City to Celebrate its 5th Anniversary and took a stand on “insecurity in Nigeria”, which seems to be one of the most intractable problems that is pushing the nation further into the abyss.
These veteran Journalists echoed similar sentiments of most Nigerians on the need for concerned authorities put an end to the orgy of killings in some parts of the Country and the survival of Nigeria in a colourful event that had everything, nature, history and magic touch of mentorship for young practicing Journalists.
Addressing guests at the Ceremony, Elder Josiah Obadigie, said insecurity has stagnated the development of the nation especially in politics, economic, Education, Health, Agriculture, and social lives of the Citizens.
He called on Stakeholders in the Nigerian project to do the needful to stem the worsening security crisis, amid high level of unemployment and inflation.
Obadigie who spoke on the topic: ” Insecurity: What went wrong? The way forward”, said, if the security crisis that is bedevilling the nation, persists, the 2023 General election may not hold due to widespread apathy.
“The Government has failed to do the needful, insecurity politicized by the various Stakeholders. The so-called politicians or leaders do not have the political will to solve the lingering insecurity problems in our nation”, he said.
Obadigie however, recommended collaboration among Stakeholders across the various religious, party or ethnic Nationalities who he said should set aside their differences towards the resurgence of the nation.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chairman of LVJ, Hon. Paul Idahosa, revealed that journalism practice has gone beyond having the writing skills and intellectual depth, in addition to, having the requisite professional qualifications, but should scale up and adapt to meet the emerging challenges.
He assured that in the spirit of the Ceremony, he assured that it would go a long way to strengthen the bond of unity between LVJ and NUJ members nationwide.
He also advised the national leadership of NUJ to conduct a rancour-free and fair elections in Edo State for new executives later in the year, by providing a level plain environment for all interested Candidates in the election.
On his part, the Chairman of NUJ in Edo State Council, Sir Roland Osakue, highlighted the challenges facing practicing Journalists in Nigeria and called on the public especially the ruling Class, to treat Journalists with dignity by upholding Press freedom.
“Journalism helps to shape the society for the good of all…It is the politicians that now tell us what to write and what should not be aired on television screens and radio, all in the name of hate speech”.
According to him, injustice accounts largely for the problems that are associated with insecurity and hunger today in Nigeria. Many parents can no longer go to farm because of killer herdsmen menace.
In his goodwill message, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Edo State, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, traced the security crisis to sabotage and betrayal of trust by some individuals in the nation.
He charged practicing Journalists in the Country to secure their future, but nurture their Children as assets especially in area of Education such that when they become weak and dependent, their Children would take care of them.
“Therefore, journalists must focus on welfare of their family”, he concluded.
The forum provided members of NUJ, the opportunity to tap into older member skills, exchange ideas, appraise the welfare of its members and project into the future with hope.
The moderator on the occasion, Sir. Godwin Egbe, kept a close watch on the elders as they enjoyed the drinks at the atmosphere and cautioned them all on the dangers of tipping over.