Traveling it is said, is a form of education. The truism of this saying became real to me when I was made to be part of the Delta State’s sponsored Journalists Training Programme in the United Kingdom, precisely at the world renowned Thomson Reuters Foundation in London.
Like the Poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, in one of his immortal lines put it in one of his epics, ‘Ulysses’ . . . “all knowledge is an arch”, that is, there is no end to learning as long as one lives. The more you learn the more you discover you haven’t acquired enough knowledge.
Perhaps this was what the present administration under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan knew from the onset and of course CLEARLY defined as one of his administration’s templates as being critical in governance that is why he as a matter of fact has continued to emphasize the need for developing the human capital, which is the greatest resource in any nation if it must move to greatness. This he has demonstrated in the areas of skill acquisition impartation, especially through the Delta Micro Credit Programme (DMCD), Empowerment and encouragement of Deltans who have distinguished themselves academically by making first class, with the opportunity to further their education in any part of the world through huge scholarships assistance and retraining of the workforce by established consultants and institutions and others too numerous to mention, all to foster human capital development and enhance service delivery to selves and humanity generally.
And so as the government officials and indeed Deltans are being given attention in this sphere, coupled with the impressive performance of government in other areas, it was also necessary that the society is better enhanced through better media practice, especially as we approach the 2015 deadline set by NBC for total digitization and achieving best practice in terms of broadcasting that will enhance critical reportorial and very constructive analysis and criticism if need be, and above all reposition the society towards better development by deepening the knowledge of practitioners. Suffice it to say that the press is the eye and the conscience of the society it exists, therefore there is the need for the members of the press to be properly trained if they must see, and reason conscientiously well in order to perform this onerous but critical role in the society constitutionally and responsibly.
I must state unequivocally that according to the resource persons on the training, Andrew Gray and Melaine Cheary, the underlying reason or whole essence of the practice of journalism is ‘public interest.’
It is therefore not out of place that a people oriented government like the current one in Delta State whose template is seriously tilted towards enhancing the state’s human capital to undertake the sponsorship of 16 journalists cutting across the broadcast and print media to a world class institute: Thompson Reuters Foundation whose existence and impact across the globe has spanned over 160 years in accurate information gathering and dissemination as well as sustained skill delivery to media houses and journalists across the globe to take a course in investigative journalism. In fact, one of the top officials revealed during a facility tour of the Reuters Organization that, “the Foundation has trained over 11,000 journalists across many countries of the world.
One of the most interesting thing about the training was the fact that it equipped participants with the requisite skills to practice the profession better, serve humanity in general and also know what to investigate, how to investigate and keep up with the best and current trends in the practice of the profession.
It holds an unbroken record of being the first to capture some of the most historic moments of our times in terms of breaking news; for instance, in 1850, that Paul Julius Reuters used pigeons to fly stock market prices between Brussels and America; in 1865, the first in London to get news that President Lincoln was shot, in 1912 that the famous Titanic has hit an ice-berg; in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 2003 that the despot, Saddam Hussein has been captured, in 2011, that, Muammar Gaddafi is captured and killed, in 2012, that facebook files $5billion IPO and in 2013, that Cyprus gets an unprecedented bail out that places burden on small bank depositors including other remarkable world historical events.
Little wonder when in his appreciation to the government of Delta State for its commitment to human capital development, the General Manager of The Pointer Newspapers, and one of the participants at the training, Mr. Bosah Iwobi, stated that Barr Chike Ogeah’s emergence as Information Commissioner in the State is the best that has happen to the Ministry. According to him, the commissioner whose leadership trait, speak lofty of him and the training initiative was conceived and being carried out “identifies with the members of the press in the state, adding that, “it is not just about the work, but also taking their welfare seriously to heart.” He was quick to add, “we have learnt new skills, as a Chief executive, I will impact the knowledge on the office when I get back.”
In fact we were trained by the world’s best, we got the best needed in the practice of robust journalism, in terms of international best practice.
Having been part of this exercise, I feel fulfilled, not because I went to London, but because I was found relevant by my boss and friend, the commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah, a very amiable personality, quite unassuming and one who believes in people and strives to encourage and bring out the best in them. To this end, he did not mince words when he stated that “the aim of the exercise was to achieve a total transformation of the profession in the state by 2015.” Transformation of the profession means transformation of the practitioners. The London experience was one that will be indelible in my memory, it gave me the opportunity of seeing the reality in the practice of this profession and learning from the “Masters.” Before now especially during my University days, I used to think that Reuters was just one of those adjunct references as far as Mass Communication is concerned, but beyond that, the trip revealed to me that it is not just that, but a ‘non – such’ Institution with global reckoning. And one thing I know is that it is one experience that has enhanced me and I should think it is the same for other participants.
Another wonderful experience while there is the opportunity of seeing a place where almost everything works. From a well organized transportation system to effective security which is some basic necessities of life that are fundamental to human existence. I know we will get there someday.
Also worth mentioning is that the trip offered another ground for extension and consummation of more intimate friendship among participants which is also needed to foster good camaraderie. I must stress that although we knew one another before embarking on the trip but the bond of friendship became reinforced as we all closely related like the one family that left the shores of Nigeria in Africa to England in Europe. It was a serious avenue for closer interactions among fellow journalists irrespective of age or social status.
Kudos to the NUJ Chairman, Delta State, Mr. Norbert Chiazor, a very rare breed, always selflessly restless, to bring succour to others. His is a true character of a leader and this he clearly demonstrated during this journey. “Shun Sir!
Once again, I remain eternally grateful to a system that made me relevant.
*KINGSLEY KWUBOSU Is Public Relations Officer, Delta State Ministry Of Information, Asaba.