Welcome Address by Maureen Chigbo #Realnews4thAnniversaryLecture

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Maureen Chigbo

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Welcome Address By Maureen Chigbo, Publisher, Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, Publishers of Realnews Magazine Online, at the Fourth Anniversary Lecture of the Magazine Holding on Thursday, November 17, 2016, at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja

GOOD morning distinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen. I plead your indulgence to stand on existing protocol.

I am delighted to welcome you all to this fourth anniversary lecture of Realnews Magazine. I know you all sacrificed a lot to be here this morning. I deeply appreciate and thank you for coming.  I am excited that His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, executive governor of Anambra State, who is also our chairman for this occasion, is here with us.  Thank you so much for honouring our invitation.

I am also elated that our Guest Lecturer, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for West Africa and Sahel is here, all the way from Dakar, Senegal, to give this lecture. I know you sacrificed a lot to be here. We appreciate the honour you have done us by accepting our invitation and for setting aside some important engagements to support a growing organisation like Realnews. Thank you a million times for accepting to give this lecture, titled “Security and National Development in Plural Democratic Society”, which no doubt you will do justice to.

My special welcome also goes to Mr. Alex Cummings, Presidential Hopeful, Liberia, and former President, Coca Cola, Africa, for accepting to play the priceless role of a discussant at this event.   I am not a fortune teller, but I dare to say that the experience you will share here today will be cherished and remembered long after you have been sworn in as the next President of Liberia. You are most welcome Sir.

The same special welcome goes to Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, and Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of police, Nigeria Police Force.  I am glad that you are all here as discussants despite your busy schedules.

I wish to appreciate and welcome all members of the Realnews Hall Fame, comprising our previous Guest Lecturer, Prof. Maurice Iwu, former INEC Chairman, and discussants – Mr. Roberts Orya, former Managing Director, NEXIM, and Mr. Benjamin Dikki, Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Prof. J.I. Ezigbo, Managing Director, Falcon Corporation Ltd and Dr. Ngozi Anyaegbunam, President, Media World., who reviewed our book: Paragon of Journalism.

I also welcome specially Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, who delivered the 2015 Lecture entitled: “Can New Buharinomics Save Nigeria” and Mallam Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, who was our chairman last year. Today, you will also be inducted into the prestigious Realnews Hall of Fame for the invaluable service you rendered to Realnews. May I state that the prestigious Realnews Hall of Fame is exclusively reserved for our Lecturers and Speakers at our Anniversary Lectures, as a way of honouring them for their intellectual contribution.  Thank you for accepting our invitation and making out time to be here at the Realnews Fourth Anniversary Lecture.

Of course, there are many people who have cancelled prior engagements to be here.  I appreciate all the sacrifice you have all made especially those who travelled from far and near – Senegal, Liberia, Benin, Onitsha, Kaduna, Lagos etc. Thank you for coming to Realnews Fourth Anniversary lecture. I must specially recognise the effort of my three “Big Brothers” Mr. Adama Gaye, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor and Tajudeen Kareem, for their contribution to the success of this event.    This is also a very special opportunity to thank Mr. Gaye for all his support to me beginning from when I covered the Economic Community of West Africa States as a young correspondent with the News Agency of Nigeria, while he was the Director of Information, ECOWAS. Without you, both Dr. Chambas and Mr. Cummings will not be here today. Thank you.

This Anniversary Lecture is one of the ways Realnews is contributing to the development of our nation by providing a forum for professionals, scholars and prominent Nigerians to discuss and proffer ideas to resolve burning national issues. In 2014, we focussed on general elections.  Last year, we dealt with the economy.

The theme of the lecture is “Security and National Development in a Plural Democratic Society”. The choice of the topic is based on the recurring internal security crisis that has been one of the major challenges that has plagued the Nigerian State in its quest for nationhood. In the last 100 years, the country has witnessed violent internal security crisis which predates its independence in 1960 including Tiv rots and Aba women riots of 1929. The latest security threats manifest in the form of Boko Haram insurgency, separatist Independent People of Biafra, Niger Delta militancy under various names and the farmers/herdsmen brouhaha and other sundry criminalities.

As Nigeria seeks its place in a modern interconnected global community, it is clear that security is one of the major challenges facing it as was predicted that it could disintegrate in 2015 (thank God it is still standing). Although this has failed to happen, the social dynamics that could make the prediction come true is still very much with us. With this in mind, one can see that security is one of the factors to focus on in our dream for nationhood.

Security is critical for growth and investment and economic prosperity and the outcome of these include greater employment, poverty reduction, social progress and peace, tranquillity and stability. It would appear that one of the key elements that predisposes Nigeria to endless violence and crisis is its plural nature. Nigeria is undoubtedly an amalgam of many nation states that have different cultural and political antecedents. In our quest to create a nation state called Nigeria, we believe that security is the most important issue to address in 2016 and this should be done against the background of national development needs in the contest of a plural and democratic society.

Hence, here we are today with many security experts in our midst to find a way out.  And since I am not an expert in security but a journalist, my job and those of all my senior and junior colleagues in this room, is to ensure that the message coming out from here today is heard across the nation and beyond.

Of course, we in Realnews will ensure that we do our part, through publishing our weekly general interest magazine; an online publication which thrives on investigative journalism. The objective of Realnews is to use our investigative skills to ferret out information in the sectors we focus on, produce an unbiased report that will actually influence the government and decision makers to take actions that will make the society better.

We are seasoned journalists who believe strongly in the tenets and ethics of the profession. We sincerely believe that journalism as the fourth Estate of the Realm can contribute its quota towards building a fair and just society where fundamental human rights are respected and citizens have the freedom to pursue their interests anywhere in the world without hindrance. Hence our motto: “For God and Humanity.”

Our vision is to build a reputable and world class media institution whose watchword –  professionalism and integrity – form the bedrock of the four cardinal points of our Mission as an online news magazine. The first is to ensure that Realnews becomes the cornerstone of investigative journalism in Nigeria and Africa. The second is to publish a credible and influential magazine that will galvanise the public especially the government and decision makers into taking actions that will change the political, socio-economic landscape and society in general for the better. Third is to focus on oil and gas, environment, vulnerable groups – youth, women and children, and give voice to the silent majority and minority groups. And the fourth is to use Realnews magazine to fight any form of injustice and ensure that no section of the Nigerian society is neglected, discriminated against or left behind in our quest to build a better and just world where basic human rights are well respected and cherished.

There is no gainsaying the fact that in the past four years we have kept faith with our vision and mission statement. Hence, we have investigated, covered and published exclusive stories that cover all the sectors we focus on including politics, oil and gas, business and economy, women and youth etc. We have done our job with all sense of responsibility. In 2013 and 2016, Realnews provided special coverage of the African Development Bank annual meetings in Marakesh, Morocco, and Zambia, at the instance of AfDB and Bank of Industry, respectively.  Last year, we also provided special coverage to the African Economic Summit in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. We also covered the Tana High Level Security Forum in Ethiopia this year.

However, in the course of our job, we have had very serious challenges. Barely a year into our existence, we suffered the first set back when our web site was hijacked. This was followed by the illegal detention of one of our reporters who went to investigate the crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.

We had challenges publishing our first volume of `Paragon of Journalisn’, which came out in 2014, while the second volume was published last year.

Realnews started publishing when many people regarded online publishers as blackmailers, muckrakers, and people who publish without verifying their stories. The more outspoken critics will just tell you that online publishers are plain irresponsible. It is in a bid to correct this erroneous belief that we decided to publish the book on Paragon of Journalism to put paid to all the accusations and prove that we are serious minded journalists here to make a difference.

On this note, I would also like to invite everyone here especially those who are not on our mail list to visit our website and subscribe to our e-Newsletter to read very well investigated stories. You may be wondering if our magazine which we worked so hard to produce is free, how then do we make money to remain in business. This is where I need also to appeal to everybody here today, representing both the public and the private sector, as well as the civil society organisations to please support us. The support can come through advertisement, special supplement and special features about your company which we could write and publish on our website. We also welcome free training programmes for our staff to improve their capacity to serve you better. You can also provide us the information necessary to do our work. We welcome whistle-blowers in the world of Realnews magazine. You can always trust us that when you give us sensitive information we will handle it with all sense of responsibility. Please always remember that Realnews magazine is synonymous with investigative, robust and excellent journalism. And that we are your partners and together we will build a strong and virile nation where we will all be happy to live and invest. That is the basis for the Paragon of Journalism.

Please note that we are also into media consultancy and writing of biographies and books. We already have some that we are working on. This is one of the ways we raise money to remain in business and do what we love most – investigative journalism.

I wish to use this opportunity to thank our sponsors and advertisers for their support.

Once again, I welcome you all to this grand gathering and lecture.

I thank you all for listening. God bless you all. God Bless Realnews. God Bless Nigeria.

—  Nov 17, 2016 @ 17:40 GMT

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