As part of lending their voice to the precarious situation in the country, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has criticized the ongoing calls for the disintegration of Nigeria and is planning to hold a conference to rally for the unity of the country.
National President of the Union, Comrade Chris Isiguzo while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday on the state of the nation and plans put in place for the success of the forthcoming NUJ Conference scheduled to hold between June 6 and 8 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said: “The Union is perturbed that the national politics is seeking to divide the country and the Media should brace up to unite the country.”
He said terrorism and banditry should also be fought relentlessly and the media must lead the fight against these evils. He insisted that the responsibility of government was primarily to protect lives and property of its citizens, noting that it would however be disastrous to allow citizens to lose confidence in government’s ability to deal with the situation.
He said Nigeria’s ranking as one of the members of club of 10 top kidnapping countries in the world and a leading one in Africa is a source of concern for the NUJ, especially as violence in the country had affected millions of Nigerians.
He lamented that hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have so far crossed into neighboring West African countries as refugees, stressing that the situation is daily being aggravated by lack of adequate response from government. He equally decried the fact that economic well-being of millions of Nigerians had been affected as agricultural activities had been suspended because of inadequate security, with clear and obvious risk of acute food insecurity in the country.
He said: “The thousands of Internally Displaced Persons especially in the North East and Central Nigeria have reached alarming proportions, even as these displaced Nigerians continue to compete for scarce resources such as water, land and food. There are protection concerns majorly for the vulnerable women, children and the elderly, while water sanitation and hygiene have become priority needs in the affected areas.”
Isiguzo said the theme of the Conference: “The Media, Insecurity and National Unity” was timely because of the pivotal role of the media as an effective tool for addressing Issues of National Unity and Insecurity.
He said: “While we concede the fact that, the fight against terrorism and banditry are extremely difficult, we believe however that the media can contribute immensely in this regard. There is therefore the need to come together as professionals to look for how government can be properly guided in creating an enabling environment for free press to thrive and serve as catalyst in influencing the right attitude by all Nigerians. This can minimize or even help in defeating terrorism and banditry in the country.”
He disclosed that the host governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State will officially declare the Conference open while Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, will deliver the keynote address.