National security, Economy: CGC Ali tasks Journalists on responsible reportage
.As participants laud Customs PR Unit on training initiative
By Udeme Clement
The Comptroller-General of Customs, CGC Ali Hameed has urged journalists covering activities of the maritime sector of Nigeria’s economy to ensure responsible reportage, to enhance national security and economic development of Nigeria.
He made this known while declaring open the seminar for Customs Correspondents, yesterday at Customs Training College, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking through his representative, the Zonal Coordinator, Zone ‘A’, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie, he emphasized the need for maritime Journalists to be objective in doing their job, by turning in reports that are factual, accurate and credible, to protect the nation’s economy.
He stressed, “The theme of this seminar, ‘Enhancing National Economy and Security through Responsible Reportage’, cannot be over-emphasized due to economic and security challenges not just in Nigeria but the world generally.”
CGC Ali, who appreciated the crucial role of maritime Journalists in reporting activities of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, advised them to put national interest first at all times”.
His assertions, “It is important for maritime journalists to be well informed, to properly educate the public on activities of Customs saddled with the responsibilities of revenue generation for government, trade facilitation and anti-smuggling operations.
“It is imperative for Journalists to report accurately, balance their stories always to protect national security because the press is the pulse of the nation.
“If Journalists do not report the service well, the public, which they are responsible to, will not understand what they are saying. The public needs to understand the role of Customs in economic growth and national security through responsible reportage”.
Also speaking, the President, African Public Relations Association, APRA, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okunsanya, said the statutory functions of Customs include security of the nation’s borders and trade facilitation for economic growth. As such, Journalists must ensure responsible reportage to enlighten the public with authentic information.
According to him, the functions of Customs are crucial to economic development and should be well reported for the interest of the Nigerian nation.
He pointed out “For Customs to achieve responsible reportage, there should be regular engagement and robust relationship with the media.
“In reality, public relations is not media relations. Public relations must be seen as a potent management tool for those in position of leadership and should be part of policy making from the beginning”.
He mentioned lack of data; lack access to important information, dearth of modern operational tools for reporters and poor remuneration as factors hindering Journalists from carrying out their duty effectively.
In his lecture, the Customs Area Controller, CAC, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Comptroller Wale Adeniyi, who spoke on ‘The imperative of follow-up and investigation’, commended the Customs National Public Relations Officer, DC Joseph Attah, and his team for their initiative in organising that important training.
He said that the training was quite good and came in the nick of time to build a robust working relationship between maritime Journalists and the Service.
Speaking further, he called on Journalists to develop a template for follow-up on news break. This, he said, will open up new windows for investigative journalism on new frontiers of issues in the nation.
Personalities present at the seminar include the Managing Director of Nigeria Customs Broadcasting Network, Engineer Edirin Jerry Wesley, who spoke on the topic, ‘Enhancing Customs Stakeholders Relationship through Digital Broadcasting; the Chief Executive Officer of PR Nigeria, Mr Yashau Shuiab, who spoke on ‘The Menace of social media on stakeholders relationship’.
In his lecture, he explained that the duties of maritime Journalists include giving the public awareness on vital issues of national security and shaping public opinion on news concerning the nation’s economy.
Mr Shuiab also said that Journalists can influence decision making on important issues of economic development, therefore their reports must be impartial to enhance national security.
He warned against the use of fake news capable of causing serious crisis in the country.
Among other security agencies at the training were, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, who came with his team and officials from the public relations unit of Immigration.
Mr Mba stressed the need for Journalists to promote peace at all times through responsible reportage of security issues in the nation.
He said, “Nigeria belongs to all of us. We must do our best to protect our country through responsible reportage”.
The training drew participants from Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kano, Port Harcourt, Lagos and other media houses across the country.