The Commissioner for Environment in Anambra State, Dr Felix Odimegwu, has charged journalists to contribute to efforts by the government towards tackling the twin menace of flooding and erosion in the state.
Odimegwu gave the charge while rendering the account of his steadwardship at the 2023 Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ accountability and watchdog conference with the theme “Investigative Journalism, Leadership Accountability and Leadership for Sustainable Development”.
He noted that the investigative journalism skills would help greatly to unravel the factors triggering erosion and flooding and what should be done by all and sundry to address them or reduce their adverse impacts on the society.
“As we speak, there are almost 160 of over 180 communities are faced by various degrees of erosion. Flooding is also wreaking havocs in various parts of the state. Anambra is shrinking and we need to do something deliberate to save our state”.
“As journalists, help us to delve into the root causes of flooding and erosion in the state. We will also need you to use investigative journalism to foster awareness and participation in the efforts being made by government to address the problem,” he said.
The Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Chiamaka Nnake, explained that the present administration under the leadership of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, is doing much with less, hence its decision to execute projects that have direct bearing on the welfare and well-being of the citizens.
She said, “The present administration remains resolute in making Anambra a peaceful and prosperous homeland, through transparent and accountable governance which ensures that citizens are well informed about government activities.
“If you need information, come to us. We shall oblige you. We are doing all we can to establish a culture of transparency and accountability as a government. I will like to see journalists in the state seeing themselves as critical partners in progress to the government.”
In a keynote address, a retired Permanent Secretary, Dr Emman Ude-Ekpeh, maintained that the media must fully deploy its investigative prowess as a tool to ensure that people entrusted with governmental responsibilities of delivering good governance in various sectors of the economy must do so with a sense of patriotism.
While recalling the challenges facing journalism practice in Nigeria, Ude-Akpeh advised journalists to take precautions and embrace collaborative work to minimize the challenges and protect the well-being of investigative reporters.
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Anambra State Council, Dr Emeka Odogwu, charged journalists to continue to serve as the moral compass of the society by spotlighting various types of corruption which has characterized governmental activities and operations in the country.
“When we lose the ability to make governments transparent and hold them accountable, we have lost our very essence,” he said.
Earlier, chairperson, NUJ Accountability and Watch-dog Committee, Ukpa Ewa Eke argued that investigative journalism played a crucial watchdog role that promoted accountability as a counterbalancing power.
“Without media, citizens would have neither access to information nor a vehicle through which they can advocate for their concerns.
“Given their special role of monitoring government and industry, journalists sometimes rely on anonymous sources: people who have sensitive information and are willing to share it with the press. It is important that they can do so safely.
The traditional ruler of Olumbanasa, Igwe Pius Ononile Omachonu, challenged journalists to work more on revealing corruption, which has grounded the country and bastardized its economy.
“Nigeria is not making progress: journalists find out. Join the fight to give Nigeria and Africa their own narratives,” he said.