Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Eschewing extremism on the road to 2015 General Elections


With a feeling of great Joy, I wish to welcome all  guests and awardees to this 2014 Newstrend Annual Leadership Conference and Award organised by Global Newstrend Newspapers and Panlela International Magazine.  It is interesting that this Leadership Conference and Award, inaugurated in 2002 has since then been held in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 respectively.  

This year’s event, being the ninth edition, with the theme: Sustaining Nigeria’s Democracy for Enhanced Economic Growth,” is a further demonstration of the commitment, determination  and patriotic zeal of Elder Emmanuel Eduonge, the Publisher/Chief Executive Officer of the Global Newstrend Newspapers and Panlela International Magazine and his team to sustain this laudable initiative. 

On behalf of all of us here and particularly his constituency, the Media, I wish to, as the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, commend Elder Emmanuel Eduonge, a versatile journalist and author for this feat, and I wish him success at this event and in the subsequent Annual Leadership Conferences and Awards.    
What is more, I am here not just as the chairman on the occasion but also as a recipient of the award of Millennium Achievers and Leadership Gold Award as a Leader with the Midas touch. I accept this award and I dedicate it to all journalists in Akwa Ibom State. 

Since my emergence as the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists on August 1, 2013, my leadership has initiated strong partnership with the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary as well as other Stakeholders as a means of creating awareness on the intertwining responsibility of building a virile society through a well organised democracy. It is very obvious that Democracy is the world’s best hope and best means of governance.  This is why I consider your theme: Sustaining Nigeria’s Democracy for Enhanced Economic Growth” as being very apt, especially as we are on the dawn of effecting leadership change come 2015 General Elections. 

We must acknowledge that leadership is very essential as it is the platform for service and the vehicle for transformation. To get it right for any society or group begins first and foremost with the leadership. A leader inspires and radiates love, togetherness, unity and development. This perhaps informed the assertion by Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), US poet and essayist that “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”  

Nigerians should desire the best leaders at all levels and should stay on the part of peace, unity and development. While it is the right of any one to aspire to lead, it is the absolute right of Nigerian voters to decide who and who should lead them at any level of leadership. An aspirant or a leader, who threatens to cause violence if not favoured, should be rejected at the polls.
No human life should be sacrificed for any man’s ambition. It should be fresh in our minds that the uprising of 1966 culminating in a bloody Civil War in 1967 was caused by excessive introduction of dimensions bordering on sectionalism, religious extremism and nepotism.  These were endemic factors quite antithetical to the building, developing and sustaining democracy for the nascent Nigerian Nation, few years after gaining independence from the colonial masters. 

Campaigns should be based on ideals and programmes of what an aspirant intends to do, and not on the premise of sectional, primordial or religious sentiments. We can go beyond the country’s appellation of Giant of Africa if we are committed and patriotic to the common cause of the people.
There are several economic indicators that Nigeria has all that it takes to launch herself as a global force. Nigeria has a strong emerging economy with a yearly growth of about 7%. Currently, the rating by international agencies such as the Standard and Poor’s, Fitch Ratings, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, places the size of the Nigerian economy as first in Africa and the 26th in the world. And the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele is optimistic that the recent rating of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is ahead of South Africa, will invigorate Nigeria’s quest to be among the top 20 Nations of the World by 2020.

Another study by Renaissance Capital puts the Lagos State economy as being bigger than that of Ghana as a whole. Nigeria also dwarfs other countries when it comes to population. With an estimated 162.5 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the 7th most populous country in the world with ten cities, more than one million inhabitants and several cities larger than Ireland in terms of population.

We need a peaceful society to sustain our development. This is why as the society’s watch dog, we appeal to public functionaries, politicians and party supporters to place the interest of the Nation above self and eschew bitterness. 2015 General Elections should not tear us apart but should further strengthen our democracy towards enhancing our economic growth.
I wish to reiterate that the media in the state will partner with relevant stakeholders to carry out voters’ education so as to sufficiently enlighten our people on their rights to freely determine who they want in all leadership positions in the forthcoming 2015 General Elections – in the spirit of “One Man, One Vote.”

In Akwa Ibom State, we have seen and witnessed the benefit of democracy through the uncommon transformation by our amiable Governor, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON.  It is our earnest hope that his successor will not only continue with his profound transformation programmes but will also set new milestones in leadership and service. 

Finally, I congratulate fellow awardees at this event and extend the felicitations of the NUJ to Elder Emmanuel Eduonge, the Publisher/Chief Executive Officer of the Global Newstrend Newspapers and Panlela International Magazine and his team on this epochal occasion.  May God bless us all.

-Being an address by Elder Patrick Albert, the chairman, Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council on the occasion of the 2014 Newstrend Annual Leadership Conference and Award at the Governor’s Office, Annex, Uyo  today, Friday, November 14, 2014.

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