We Are Leaders, We Are Mentors
It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you all to this first of its kind retreat for members of the State Executive Committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council.
We are joined here today by other eminent leaders of Akwa Ibom State extraction, serving at other levels of leadership structure in our Union. This composition was deliberate and an attempt to connect with one another in the service of NUJ and to continue to nurture leadership strategies that would engender the participation of our people at higher positions at the zonal and National levels.
When we were campaigning for this office, I used every electioneering stop to assure our members that we would be running an NUJ that would approach leadership in a collective manner that would make every member a leader at whatever level he finds himself. We are therefore, here in a practical commitment to create an enabling atmosphere to chart a new, and all-inclusive leadership that will remain committed to building a union that will no longer shy away from its responsibilities to its members and the society, where our country’s grand num, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has clearly given us the onerous responsibility of being the watchdog.
This retreat is one of the many training sessions we are going to be hosting for capacity building, promotion of professional excellence and giving our members the needed journalism training that will make them more competitive in a fast moving world of information overkill. We shall continue to organize workshops, conferences, seminars, as a way of repositioning the next generation of journalists in Akwa Ibom State, to understand that there is more to journalism than the current political dog fight; many of them practice in the name of journalism. It is going to be a period of intellectual resurgence in our State Council and I am sure we will be better in the days and months ahead.
While here, Distinguished Colleagues, it is hoped that we rub minds on various aspects of leadership, so that when we get back to work, we will have been turbo-charged to discharge our responsibilities to the Union, by working as a team, with one interest, one mind, one commitment to the growth and well-being of our Union. We shall take away from this retreat a renewed vigour to contribute, every man his abilities, his skills, his time and his love towards the growth of journalism in Akwa Ibom State.
It is my earnest hope and desire that we all shall leave here, each, with a single minded commitment to work for the Union as if you are the only one, neither wavering, nor shying away from the prices we must pay as individuals to make our Union great. The greatest reward of leadership is the replication of leadership traits in those we lead. It is for this reason that we shall take steps towards building the capacities needed to become mentors, character and professional monitors to the younger ones in our profession. We must carry ourselves, as leaders, with respect and decorum, for the younger ones to see and recognize that we can only be proud of our profession, when we respect the profession, operate within accepted standards and ethical boundaries. We must show by our individual conduct, adherence to moral and our professional ethics that we are in a profession that deserves respect and honour. As leaders and mentors, we must become that mirror of everything good and great about our profession, so that when those who look up to us see the image on the mirror, they will have no alternative to make their own professional standards reflect the character and conduct of the man behind the image. At all times we must remind ourselves of our dual role as leaders and mentors.
Distinguished professional colleagues, our profession is at a very trying cross roads and we must take very decisive steps to bring it back to course. We are in an age that our practice is being threatened by the activities of those who have no training, no knowledge of what it takes to produce news and stories, and no attachment or affinity with the NUJ, the result is that they don’t care what happens to our professional image. We must not allow this and it remains my commitment to sanitize media practice in the state to regain respectability and honour for our honourable profession.
No great professional journalist will from now say, it concerns them when our collective image and professional integrity are at risk. What happens to our profession is our concern; what happens to our Union is our concern and we must defend both with everything we have.
I must acknowledge the massive and overwhelming support we received towards the hosting of this retreat; our Grand Patron, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, the Commissioner for Works, Akwa Ibom State. We thank you for being there for us. Your reward will be that you will witness a new NUJ, anchored of core professional values. I hope your doors will remain open each time we knock, as we continue to build and develop journalism in Akwa Ibom State.
We also thank the Honorable commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Charles Udoh for accepting to give the keynote address at this retreat and his support to the State Council and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Ekerete Udoh for his sustained support to the growth of the Union at all times.
To conclude this address of welcome, I want to assure you that we did not come to Eket to listen to only talks and lectures, we are in Eket to also socialize; we are here to bond as a family; we are here to share in that friendship we have built over time. We are here in the oil city of Eket to oil our friendships, our relationships, and promote a culture of mutuality. So I enjoin you to explore the city, enjoy whatever there is to enjoy here and when we get back to base, be ready for an exciting three years of collective leadership for our union.