Welcome Address by Maureen Chigbo, Publisher, Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, at the Seventh Anniversary Lecture of the Magazine, held on Thursday, 19th November 2019, Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Your Excellences, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and members of my constituency, the Media, permit me to stand on existing protocol and express my delight in welcoming you all to the Seventh Anniversary lecture of Realnews Magazine. We appreciate your sacrifice and support, especially at this time when you should be preparing for the end-of-year activities.
It suffices to say that I am overjoyed that our Guest Lecturer, the man we have gathered here to listen to, is present. His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, former President of the Republic of Ghana, does not need much introduction, for as saying goes, his exemplary reputation precedes him. We appreciate the fact that he made time out of his very busy schedule to honour our invitation. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, UNOWAS, and Paul Ejime, a veteran journalist and international communications and media consultant for facilitating the invitation to our guest lecturer.
I am elated that Dr. Mansur Muhtar, our Chairman for this occasion, and other distinguished guests are here. Muhtar had in early October called to inform me that unfortunately he would not be available. But when my senior colleague, Alhaji Nasir Mahmoud, broke the news, I told him it was too late for any cancellation because we had already sent out invitation letters with Dr. Muhtar name as the Chairman of the occasion. Naturally, I felt disappointed, but as a pragmatic optimist, I never lost hope. My optimism paid off because when Dr. Muhtar received my concern through Alhaji Mahmoud, he promised to call me later. He did and told me he wanted to “bring down my blood pressure.” He assured that he would discuss with his boss and revert. I prayed and hoped for the best. As you all can see, our Chairman, Dr. Muhtar is here live. Sir, we cannot thank you enough. Our profound gratitude goes to Alhaji Mahmoud and Dr. Farouk Ibrahim, General Manager, in charge of the OPEC Liaison Office at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, for supporting our efforts to ensure that Dr. Muhtar made it here.
My special welcome also goes to Mr. Alex Okoh, Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprises and Mrs. Margaret Olele, Chief Executive Officer of the American Business Council for accepting to serve as discussants at this event.
I want to welcome specially, His Excellency Peter Obi, former governor of my home State, Anambra, who had to reschedule his flight in order to honour our invitation today. Thank you very much Sir. Permit me also to welcome, Mr, C. Don Adinuba, Honourable Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Anambra State, who has agreed to review our new book – Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa.
My warm welcome also goes to the delegation from Ghana, comprising Mr. Julius Debrah, Adviser to HE John Mahama and former Chief of Staff, Dr. Hannah Bissiw, former deputy minister for food and Agriculture; Joyce Bawah Mogtari, Special aide and Publicist of HE, Mr. Stanislav Dogbe, Special Assistant, ASP James Mahama, Security Officer, Mr. Francis Osei-Owusu, Media team, Mr. BramahMahama, Valet and Mr. Edem Freeman.
We are grateful to the staff of the Presidential Protocol Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria, especially Ambassador Badewole and Mrs. Atinuke Akintan Adeyemi, the Consulate General of Ghana in Lagos and the Ghana High Commission in Abuja for their diplomatic and logistic support.
Allow me to appreciate and welcome members of the Realnews Hall of Fame, here present – Mallam Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, Founder/CEO, Alpine Investment Limited and Dr. Ngozi Anyaegbunam, President, Media World, Dr. Waheed Olagunju, Executive Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr. Paul Ejime, and Sir Elvis Emecheta.
The Realnews Hall of Fame is our modest way of honouring Lecturers and Speakers at our Anniversary Lectures for their contributions to knowledge and national development and also for recognizing Realnews Ambassadors. We cannot thank them enough.
Permit me also to thank members of the Realnews team for their commitment, hard work and sacrifice; Mr. Ejime for always providing editorial guidance and Mr, Adama Gaye, CEO of NewForce Africa, Mrs. Comfort Coleman and Sir Eze Emecheta for their encouragement and advice.
The anniversary lecture series is one way Realnews is contributing to nation building and development by providing a forum for frank discussion by professionals, scholars, technocrats and influential personalities on the way forward for our great nation and Africa in general. In 2014, we focused on elections; in 2015 the theme was on the economy, in 2016 the discussion was on security; 2017 was on the challenges of Leadership in Africa, while the lecture in 2018, dwelt on Africa’s political transitions and the economy. This year we are exploring an economic narrative for West Africa beyond politics with the sub-theme: The end of oil: Whither the Nigerian economy.
Our choice of the 2019 topic and sub-theme was informed by the need to escalate and broaden the conversation on the economic challenges facing our region with Nigeria as the regional economic powerhouse. This is against the background of the recently endorsed Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). More countries in the West Coast are discovering oil, which is a finite resource. How about the danger of over-dependence on oil revenue and the unending call for economic diversification?
We have carefully selected the panel of discussants with the relevant expertise, knowledge and experience to address the chosen topics.
I would like to appeal to my journalist colleagues to ensure that the message from here today is heard in Africa and beyond. Of course, at Realnews we will ensure that we do our part by giving the widest publicity to this important lecture. Realnews boasts of a crop of seasoned journalists, who believe strongly in the tenets and ethics of the profession. We are convinced that journalism as the Fourth Estate of the Realm can contribute towards building a free, fair and just society where fundamental human rights are respected and citizens have the freedom to pursue their interests without let or hindrance. Our motto is: “For God and Humanity.”
In the past seven years we have kept faith with our Vision and Mission statements. We have investigated and published exclusive stories that cover all sectors of our focus, including politics, oil and gas, business and economy, women and youth etc. We can proudly say that we have done and continue to do our job with a high sense of responsibility.
Needless to add that the modest success we have recorded at Realnews has come with its share of challenges, especially in fashioning creative ways for sustainable publication in a difficult economic environment with dwindling prospects for advertisement.
Consequently, I would like to invite everyone here, especially those who are not already on our mailing list to visit our website and subscribe to our e-Newsletter to enjoy investigative reports on topical development issues rendered in professional style. Apart from our WhatsApp broadcast, we have also made Realnews more user friendly by redesigning our website with the Google Play Store download App.
Now the big question! If Realnews Magazine is free, how then, do we make money to remain in business? Without your support, from the public or private sector alike, and civil society, Realnews will not survive! The support can be in form of advertisement, special supplement and special features on your company/organization for publication on our website. We also welcome capacity building programmes for our staff to serve our clients better.
Realnews is also into media consultancy; writing of books and biographies, and image survey for companies. This year alone, we have published two books – one for the Nigerian Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC and the other – Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa, which will be unveiled after the lecture. We have several manuscripts we are working on and we need sponsors to get them published. These are some of the ways we raise money for our free-source on-line publication, with investigative journalism, as our first-love.
As we have always stated, we also welcome whistle-blowers in the world of Realnews magazine. Be rest assured that when you provide us with sensitive information, we will handle it with the highest sense of responsibility and confidentiality.
Keep in mind that Realnews Magazine is all about investigative, robust and excellent journalism. We are your partners in development, and together we will build a strong and virile society where all will be free and happy to live and invest in.
I cannot end this address without thanking the corporate organisations that made this year’s lecture possible with their support. These are the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board; the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Anambra State Government, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank Plc., Shell Petroleum and Development Company, Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, Nigerian Communications Commission, Zenith Bank Plc., First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Central Bank of Nigeria, Bolton White Hotel, Abuja, and EcoBank Plc. We are most grateful to you all.
Thank you for your attention.
Akwaaba! Welcome one and all!
– Nov. 22, 2019 @ 11:12 GMT |