NUJ Chairman Adeleye Ajayi with his wife and son at the event.
Story by Dili Utomi.
MARAN HONOURS LEYE AJAYI, ORGANISES LECTURE.
The Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) recently organised a reception/lecture in honour of one of her former presidents who is now the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos State chapter, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi.
The reception/lecture had its theme as National Development: The challenge of and the prospects for the proper implementation of the freedom of information (FOI) act in the Nigerian Maritime Industry. The chairman of the occasion, Prince Olayiwola Shittu in his opening remarks advised the executive to ensure that the Association which is the first Journalists Association within the Maritime sector continues to wax strong and try to do more in terms unity and the quality of leadership. The president of the Association, Mr. Anya Njoku in his speech gave great testimonies of the person and character of Mr. Adeleye Ajayi.
In his presentation, the guest lecturer Mr. Emeka Okoro Anyanwu first of all took a look at the history of the Association and said that the founders started by gathering under the tree. He also took a walk through memory lane to detail the battles that were fought in order that after about eleven years, the FOI bill was passed. He quoted a section of the law which indicated the right of every Nigerian to the freedom of information while also noting that the application of the law, though met with initial opposition, now make information more readily available on request. Mr. Anyanwu also noted the intrinsic value of the law which ultimately makes the government more accountable to the people and he therefore continued to urge that Journalists take advantage of it in carrying out their duty.
More pictures from the event.
He also noted that the underlying philosophy of the law is “captured by the declaration of the principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa which notes that, Public bodies hold information not for themselves, but as custodians of the public good and everyone has a right to access the information, subject only to clearly defined rules established by law”.
The NUJ Chairman being presented with a painting of himself and flanked by the wife, son and chairman of the occasion.
Another guest speaker at the reception/lecture was Mr. Layinka Adagun, the General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio and in his presentation titled: The FOI act and Maritime Reporting, Mr. Adagun noted that the Maritime Industry with over eight hundred and fifty three kilometers of a stretch of coastline and over two hundred nautical miles out into the sea and the main player in the Nigerian economy has the potential for a big impact in the world. He though noted that the Maritime Industry is germane to the growth of the overall economy, but that unfortunately it has been besieged by “stunted growth, the challenge of inadequate financing, deficits in funding in most Maritime activities as well as lack of transparency and sharp practices within the sector and these have justified the enactment of the FOI act”.
More pictures from the event.
He recalled that the process of passing the bill into law was somewhat arduous as a former president said that having an FOI law would be against national security. He added also that the process of trying to get information by Journalists could sometimes be arduous as public servants usually view this as unnecessary intrusion into their affairs.
He advised that in spite of the difficulty inherent in trying to do their job, that Journalists embrace the use of technology and all the traditional and modern platforms including the social media platforms to carry out their duties.
The discussants noted that without information no society or economy grows and so Journalists should continue to inform and educate the public.
The reception/lecture also formed a kind of re-union as most of the former presidents of MARAN were invited and given a place of honour on the day.
The reception/lecture was compered by Folashade Aderouhunmu and Sandra Ukele who read the citation of Mr. Ajayi. Mr. Asu Beks who is known in the industry as the godfather admonished Journalists to continue to play the watchdog role that they are known for while noting that though the job may not be so financially rewarding in these climes, but that our roles make us very important members of the society.
The celebrated man of the day Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, thanked everyone for the honour and said that he feels ” honoured and elated as this forms one of the happiest days of his entire life” . He noted that he feels that every member of any team is important and so applies the principle of team play in all his roles as a leader.
On the issue of the Lagos State chapter of the NUJ, he stated that various committees have been constituted to handle some specific assignments and for a more efficient running of the Council.