By Jude Atupulazi
Valentine Ozigbo, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2021 Anambra governorship election, has urged the media to play a more active role in ensuring that the right leaders are elected in Nigeria.
Ozigbo gave the charge on Saturday, December 11, when he received an award of excellence from the South East Zone of of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the 2021 Anambra Media Parley held at Don Ritz Hotel, Awka.
While presenting the award to Ozigbo, Prof Chinyere Okunna, former Chief of Staff to the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, said Ozigbo deserved the honour because of his excellent leadership qualities.
‘Ozigbo deserves this honour for the political leadership he has exhibited in many ways. May this be an inspiration to you and those who believe in you. This award should spur you to do more for Anambra, Nigeria and the world,’ Professor Okunna said.
Ozigbo thanked the South East Chapter of the NUJ led by Emmanuel Ifesinachi, for the recognition in his brief remarks, urging them to take charge of the leadership selection process.
‘There is nothing as important as closing the leadership gap in Nigeria. Most times, we lament about the problems of Nigeria, but we do not discuss the solutions. We need to change our mindset and take full responsibility,’ Ozigbo, a multiple-award-winning global CEO, said.
While calling for focus on closing the leadership gap, Ozigbo said another election was around the corner and charged the media not to allow what he called another accident to happen.
‘I’m here to ask the media if they are ready to play their roles. Let us consciously orchestrate the emergence of our leaders and not always react to these issues when they happen. Let us explore what we can do to galvanise Nigerians to make the right decision,’ Ozigbo urged.
In the run-up to the November 6 Anambra Guber Election, Ozigbo built a healthy relationship with the media community, endearing himself to the fourth estate and strengthening his reputation as a new generation leader. This was not lost on the NUJ which led them to give him the award.
In his speech, the South East Zonal Vice Chairman of NUJ, Sir Emma Ifesinachi, said the theme of the event was to x-ray how the journalists were affected by security in the discharge of their duties and that the need for journalists to be secure in the zone prompted the organization of the media parley.
He commended Ozigbo on his closeness to the media and described him as the only candidate that showed concern with the affairs of the media before, during and after the election; hence the decision to honour him.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, an Ohaneze chieftain, Okeke Ogene, noted the power of the press but regretted that society did not fully appreciate it; noting that, even worse, media practitioners were poorly remunerated.
He called for firebrand journalism by media practitioners of Southeast extraction in order for the Igbo voice to be heard, recalling how the western press made enough noise during the era of NADECO until they got what they wanted.
Ogene said such firebrand journalism required risk taking as some journalists did years ago in the country.
‘A journalist should have spare clothes because he can be arrested and taken to prison while coming out from the studio,’ he said, while harping on the need for fire brand journalism.
He said the Igbo quest for presidency should be placed on the front burner by the media, as well as the case of Nnamdi Kanu; noting that the agitations across the country arose from the excesses of the federal government.
‘Today’s event should be a beginning point for unity among Igbo people in Nigeria,’ he said, noting that journalists from the zone should be in the vanguard.