REMARKS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE CEREMONY ON THE RENAMING OF NAN HEADQUARTERS BUILDING AFTER THE LATE WADA MAIDA ON THURSDAY, SEPT. 16TH 2021 IN ABUJA
Let me start by commending the management and staff of the News Agency of Nigeria for coming up with the idea to immortalize the late Alhaji Wada Maida. The federal government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realizing the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalized by the organization he served so well in his lifetime
2. Alhaji Wada’s immense contribution to the development of journalism was not restricted to NAN alone. He also made his impact on the national and international stage. He was President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, a distinguished member of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria and a one-time Executive Director of the International Press Institute. Indeed, Alhaji Wada was a colossus of journalism and a national icon. He deserves the honour being bestowed on him today.
3. Alhaji Wada’s brand of journalism was developmental. He believed that journalism serves a higher purpose, which includes ensuring the development, peace and unity of a nation. This is not a surprise, considering that the News Agency of Nigeria, where he served out most of his years as a journalist, is not just the apex news organization in Nigeria but also one committed to countering negative information about our country.
4. It may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist, in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace. In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first.
5. Your excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, if one picks up most newspapers, watches most television stations or listens to most radio stations in Nigeria today, he or she will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war. Yes, we have challenges, especially in the area of security. But this Administration has not only acknowledged these challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges. A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
6. To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme, tagged ”A Week in & For Nigeria’, during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
7. Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media. Even when some media organizations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
8. We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers.
9. Just before I round off, please permit me to congratulate the family, friends and associates of the late Alhaji Wada Maida for the great and much-deserved honour being done to him today. I pray that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Alhaji Wada. May the soul of the departed continue to rest in peace.
10. On this note, your excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for your kind attention.