The Delta Online Publishers Forum, DOPF, has been officially inaugurated with operators across the country challenged to ensure objective scrutiny of the Federal and State Governments, the Electoral Commissions, the security agencies, politicians and political parties, and avoid any sensational report that will destroy the image of the country.
The inauguration which took place at Chad- ef Hotel, Asaba the Delta State Capital had in attendance industry stakeholders from the public and private sectors including top government functionaries.
Delivering the keynote lecture with the theme, “Impact of Online Journalists on Good Governance and Accountability” which triggered Panelists discussions, National President of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR Barr. Malachy Ugwummadu, urged online news operators to report the true situation of things in the states, by ensuring that the developmental policies and statements are met, especially in budget implementations.
He stated that the online media has helped in the promotion of good governance and accountability in the country since the inception of democratic rule as they are interrelated to an extent.
“Democracy and online media are interrelated to such an extent that democracy has fostered online media use by way of further making the government to promote freedom of expression which is the foundation of the media. The online media has also fostered democracy by increasing peoples’ avenue to contribute to public affairs and influencing certain government decisions”.
He said the Nigerian constitution imposes a duty on the media to be the watchdog of the society, and this implies it should take vigilance over relationship between the people and the government.
“The fact that the constitution imposes a duty on the media to monitor governance implies that it should undertake vigilance over the relationship between the people and the government”.
Ugwummadu however called on media houses to be objective in their reporting, as that will be the only credible way to grow.
“A responsible media with patriotism and incorruptibility can enhance governance and deepen democratic processes. The media, as a strong pillar of democracy and agent for good governance should ensure objective scrutiny of players in the process like the Federal and State Governments, the Electoral Commissions, the security agencies, politicians and political parties.
“The media should ensure that the electorates are educated, informed and mobilized to treasure their voting rights and exercise them responsibly. How effectively the media performs its role in the democratic and electoral processes will add to or deduct from the number and quality of the ‘structures’ in its estate.
“In a period of universal aspiration for good governance, the media should ensure it takes its rightful position in fostering good governance always and at all times. In doing this the media should be at the fore front of educating the populace, both the governed and the governors of some fundamental steps to be taken. Online media has emerged as a veritable platform to reach out to a mass of the people, he added.
Other speakers at the well attended event including the chairman of the occasion, Hon Christopher Ochor Ochor the Executive Director Social Services Development, on the board of DESOPADEC, who was represented by Hon Charles Emetulu, the Executive Assistant to the governor on Community Relations, called on members of the newly inaugurated body to use their various platforms to fight against fake news which had taken over the internet, and mainly spread through Social Medias.
“I believe this gathering is the right place to start the fight against fake news, because this form of news is mainly transmitted by online and social media practitioners, and I believe there should be control on how those of you who are involved in online news portals and social media platforms on the type of information you give out to the public. Any unverified message sent out is not only dangerous, but is capable of destroying the peaceful nature of the society”.
“The rate of fake information and news trending in the country is increasing daily and it is all from the cyberspace, which is the base of your operation.” He said.
Speaking in the same vein, the state Commissioner of Information Mr Patrick Ukah, cautioned against the use of the online news media to run down others, tasking the members that an integrity and objective reporting should be the keyword of owners of such news websites, and called on members of the forum to be the vanguard on the drive to eliminate fake and damaging news materials that are trending in the cyber space.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Sherrif Oborevwori, who was the Distinguished Guest at the occasion, while congratulating the members for a successful inauguration, tasked them to be guided by the ethics of the journalism profession, and to remain objective.
“As you are coming on with your official inauguration, I implore you to be guided by the ethics of your noble profession, remain objective and do not play politics with your forum” he said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the Forum, Mr Emmanuel Enebeli said the association was formed to promote the ethical standard of News Media’s operating online, and ensure that standards are kept, and to sure up public confidence of news from online news bodies in the state.
“Our main priority will be to provide an alternative, credible and believable platform to address and correct fake news as much as possible and promote the good of the state and her people.”
He pointed out that for the state to grow, and businesses to grow in the state, there must be corroboration between the state, and businesses, with a secure environment.
“We must work together to build a better Delta state, and Nigeria, where lives will be secured and citizens will be well informed through credible channels.”
The event which was attended by a cross section of professionals from the media, security, government and private sections, had a discussion section which had the South South Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Chapter, Mr Edward Akpati Ogude, Ms. Sindy Foster of Nylon Marketing Company, London, who also represented Mr. Igho Sanomi, the Chief Executive Officer of Taleveras Energy, Ms Julie Ugbeyi, a lecturer from Delta State University, Abraka, and Ms Faith Nwadishi, Country Representatives of Transparency International on Extractive Industries, Norway and Executive Director of Koyenum Immalah Organisation, and Bar. Maxwell Omene Ogedegbe, as the moderator.
Other personalities who attended the event were the Executive Assistant to the governor on Religious Matters, Bishop Breatman Nmalagu, Mr Jackson Ekwugum, Communication Manager to the governor, Representative of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Charles Aniagwu, Barr. Kennedy Nwashindi, one time Chairman of Ukwuani Local Government Area,Rep of Senator Ighoyota Amori Representative of Hon Ndudi Elumelu, members of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, (CDHR), the state Police Public Relation Officer, Mr Andrew Aniamaka, state NUJ Chairman, Mr Michael Ikeogwu among others.