By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives has called on legislators across the country to improve their relationship with the journalists covering them, saying the media are partners in nation building.
Speaking at the maiden annual dinner/award of excellence organized by the House of Representatives Press Corps in conjunction with Correspondent Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) FCT in Abuja, Chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs, Rep Abdulrazaq Namdas (APC Adamawa), called on his colleagues to be more receptive to journalists covering activities of the Parliament, instead of seeing them as enemies; adding that a healthy media legislative relationship would enhance free flow of information from the legislators to their constituents.
Namdas, who was also honoured as the “Ambassador of the House” noted that the media was in a better position to assess activities of lawmakers. He commended the House Press Corps for finding time to assess members and give awards to deserving members.
Chairman of the occasion, who is a former chairman of the House committee on media, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh in his key note address admonished the leadership of the House to raise its game by taking advantage of the disposition of the press corp to manage its reputation and public perception in view of its vulnerabilities in an era of social and traditional media.
He said, “Time has really changed yesterday, and today. The management or otherwise of information is the difference in the success and failure in leadership.”
Eyiboh, who is now chairman of the Cross River Basin Development Authority, opined that “Constructive engagements, symbiotic relationship management, trainings and informal quarterly experience sharing and collaborations as a panacea for institutional image minding.”
Earlier, chairman of the House Press Corps, Mr. Umar Mohammed Puma, in his welcome address said the essence of the award of excellence was to brainstorm on ways through which the media can collaborate with the legislature and other institutions of government to achieve national development.
He lamented that most public officials, especially politicians, see the media as a partner that should be held at arm’s length.
“We believe that those who court the media in their public life stand a better chance of succeeding in their assignments.”
Puma explained that ‘The awards are classified into four categories: serving members of the 8th House that are outstanding in their performance, members of the 7th Assembly, who have moved on and are doing excellently in different capacities; the National Assembly Bureaucracy and intuitions and organizations in the public and private sector, which have conducted their activities as it concerns the National Assembly with utmost responsibility and integrity.”
He denounced the contention that journalists’ awards to personalities and institutions they cover were self serving. “Some have argued that it is self serving for journalists to be giving out awards to individuals or institutions they report or cover their activities. But, I beg to defer and make haste to say that as reporters, we oversight the Parliament and various organizations that do business with the Legislature.
“So, there is no body or group that is better equipped and positioned to tell the world what their representatives do in the parliament; and we are most competent to relate the interaction between the media and the larger society.”
Some of those honoured at the event included deputy speaker, Hon. Sulaimon Lasun Yussuff as ‘Doyen of Constituency Projects’, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta as ‘Legislator of the Year’, Hon. Ossai Ossai as “Rep of the Year (male) and Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje as “ Rep of the Year (female).