By Ochiaka Ugwu
Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Bello yesterday urged journalists to always engage in diligent reportage of events as the watchdog of the society.
Bello gave the advice in Abuja at the official commissioning of the FCT Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Secretariat.
The minister who was represented by the Executive Secretary, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engr. Umar Jibrin, said: “over the years, successive administrations have done their best to uphold that dream. That Abuja today stands as one of the most beautiful capital cities and the symbol of Nigeria’s oneness is a testament to the dreams of our founders.
“The media has a huge role to play in this quest by engaging in diligent reportage of events and truly being the watchdog of society. It is essential that you dig deep to expose negative elements working against our collective efforts of building not just the FCT but indeed the Nigeria of our dreams.
“I want to use this opportunity, therefore, to stress that we in the FCTA appreciate your efforts in keeping residents informed of events around the territory as well as holding government to account on its responsibilities to the people.
“It is therefore our fervent hope that you will take care of this beautiful edifice which I dare say is one of the best NUJ Secretariats across Nigeria and utilize it effectively so that it stands out as a place of professionalism, excellence and symbol of truth, unity and strength of our country”.
FCT, NUJ Chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche commended the FCT Minister adding that: “This event has been 28 years in the making, and it has pleased God that the #FRESH START Team which I lead as Chairman, should wear the badge of honour. Mr. Minister, Sir, all of these will not have happened if were not for your policy of seeing government as a continuum, and we are grateful.
“For long, it seemed as if the NUJ FCT was a castaway despite its pride of place as the Federal Capital City Council. Today, all of that has changed given that over the past few weeks, those who have had cause to visit this complex, have remarked of the condusive environment and the respect the secretariat has brought not only to journalists but also the FCT administration.
“It will please the Hon. Minister to know that since this executive came on board 14 months now, we have been guided by our pledge of service, transparency and accountability in running the affairs of this council. We have been able to intervene in various issues – professional and personal – of our members.
“Within this same period, we have held two medical outreaches so as to ascertain the health of members, and are hoping to hold more this year. Furthermore, as critical stakeholders in the Abuja enterprise, we held a town hall meeting on rising security challenges in the FCT as part of galvanizing and proffering solutions to some of the social issues in the territory”.
On the challenges facing the council, Ogbeche said: “this council is not without challenges, one of which is funding. It is no longer secret that journalists are mistreated by the society it serves and protects, but thankfully, you have demonstrated that you are different. We thank you.
“Going forward, Sir, while we appreciate the paucity of funds in the FCTA and in general, we appeal that the NUJ be considered for a monthly grant as is done for the National Council of Women Society and other similar bodies. This will go a long way in enabling the council meets up with some of its obligations”.