By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: The Cross River State Journalists Forum(CROSSJOF) on Thursday, held its maiden dinner and award night, to network and also honour members of the forum who have done well through an award.
In his welcome address, the Chairman, CROSSJOF, Gabriel Odu, said the event was designed to bring Cross Riverians together, and expressed delight that people have come to honor them with their presence in the maiden event.
Odu, who was represented by the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Uket Ofem, noted that CROSSJOF which has been in existence since 2001, was formed by practicing journalists resident in Abuja, to look at the policies of government at state and federal levels.
He further pointed out that Cross Riverians are coming from a hopeless minority without people to speak for them, revealing that as a forum,they have approached their leaders, and are proud to have done their part to support their leaders from the state.
He reiterated that Cross Riverians are hopeless minority, and urged them to fight for themselves as no body can fight for them.
In a paper presentation on the theme “Diversification of State Economy for Sustainable Democracy”, the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists FCT chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche congratulated the CROSSJOF for the event.
He however pointed out that Cross Riverians are not entirely hopeless, as they have made commendable strides as a people and as a state by having people in top positions at different levels, adding that they are a minority that need to forge greater synergy to take their rightful place in the country.
In his words, “For us in CROSSJOF, I think it is a wake up call for us to assess where we are, where we want to be, how far away we traveled and where we we intend to take to get to where we want to be.
“There is need to hold the leaders accountable, harness the ICT, invest enough to make progress and compete favourably with other states and even do better. We are brilliant by default but must harness the inherent potential as we have not done well in that regard”, he stated.
While challenging the gathering to do things differently, he noted that the state is blessed with eminent and qualified individuals, and expressed hopes that the several Memorandum of Understanding Governor Ben Ayade has signed, would be realized before he leaves office for the state economy to diversify.
According to him, “If our State continues in that manner of silencing dissenting voices, people will rebel. No matter how many handcuffs you buy and how many people you take to court for criticizing government, it will not end.
“Our government has a duty to empower our people back home so we can enjoy the peace that comes with democracy. Democracy is not about poverty but prosperity. I believe that Cross River State will do right by its people”, he ended.
The awardees of the night were; Goddy Jeddy Agba (OFR),Hon. Minister of State Power (Energy Development Personality of the year Award); Barr. Mary Ekpere-Eta, DG. Women Development Centre; Mrs Anthonia Ekpa PhD, Director Road Transport, Federal Ministry of Transportation(Road Policy Development Personality of the year); and Capt. Hart Modey PhD, C&I Leasing PLC (Personality of the year award).
In a few remarks by the awardees who were mainly represented, Goddy Agba, the Minister of State, Power, who was represented by his Political Adviser, Mr. James, said that the Minister has the CROSSJOF at heart and expressed his solidarity in moving forward with the Forum.
He however stressed that the five core tenets of the profession which is truth, independence, fairness and impartiality, humanity and accountability still needs to be looked into properly before diversification.
“We must hold our leaders responsible for where we are as a people. We should elevate our own. We can create news not fabricate”, he said.
He also urged CROSSJOF to continue to propel the tenets of Journalism as well as the State in the right direction so as to appreciate what they have as a people.
Also speaking, Captain Hart Modey who was recognized for his contributions towards empowering youths and the elderly for self reliance, said the award is a mark of encouragement for others.
Modey, who was represented by Modey Francis, said Captain Hart was honored on Humanitarian grounds for remembering the downtrodden, and urged others to borrow a leaf from his gesture.
While stating that CROSSJOF has done well as a maiden edition and should expand to other areas, he called for all to work together to improve the State’s economy, adding that the deep-sea port project will bring the state as well as Nigeria to the world market.
Capt Hart Modey is a Sailor, Investor, Philanthropist, Humanitarian and Principal founder of Capt. Hart Modey’s Foundation, Emmadoug paint etc.