Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has paid glowing tribute to the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his timely intervention in the blockage of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services.
Umahi, represented by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Senator Emmanuel Onwe, made his feelings known while speaking to journalists in Abakaliki during the grand finally of this year’s Press Week organized by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi State Council.
Umahi, who also commended the media for its prompt and courageous reportage of the event, which he said greatly aided the timely stemming of the ugly development, described the barricade as a direct assault on Nigeria and its entire citizenry, noting that the legislature was the hub of democracy acknowledged universally.
The Governor lamented the many abuses of democratic principles by some holders of political power and called on journalists to effectively employ their profession to hold public office holders accountable.
Umahi said: “Now the fourth estate of the realm played a very huge role.
“If it had not been for the instant reporting, the great and courageous commentary by journalists, both in print and electronic medium, it would have been completely a different story.
“It would have been one of those instances that by the time you wake up, a terrible deed had already been done, presumably in your name.
“So, I pay great tribute to them.
“But it is also important they continue in this vein to hold the feet of politicians, of public officers, of civil servants.
“Whoever is responsible for the administration of the funds of the projects across this nation must be held to account so that by that way the evolution of our democracy would get to a point where it would be so solidified so that many balaclava would no longer threaten it.”
Reflecting on the theme of the event: “Way out for our fledgling democracy,” Umahi maintained that it was the responsibility of all and sundry in the country to protect and safeguard the country’s democracy.
He however placed greater responsibility on the journalists and the media, urging them to always deploy the tenets of uprightness, courage, good conscience and professionalism in their reportage.
Umahi said: “The way out for our fledgling democracy, the fledgling Nigeria democracy, is the responsibility of all of us as citizens, but most importantly the responsibility of the fourth estate of the realm.
“As long as we continue to illuminate all the nooks and crannies of Governance and hold leaders to account, as long as we continue to be courageous and hold our feet to the fire of responsibility and uprightness, our democracy will survive.
He said any practitioner of journalism, who really wants to commit himself to the noble profession, needs to ask himself why he got into the profession in the first place.
Speaking further in his capacity, Senator Onwe described Governor Umahi as a man who has set excellent example in leadership throughout the country and expressed pride in being part of the Ebonyi State success story pioneered by the Governor.
He said concerning the Governor: “He has redefined leadership not just in Ebonyi, not just for the South East.
“Any fair minded individual will recognize that Governor David Nweze Umahi has redefined governance in the whole of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because he has done for Ebonyi what it has been crying out to be done for the past 16 years.
“Umahi may have been 16 years in coming, but he is still very much on time.
“I am very proud, extremely proud to be associated with his sacrifices and self denials for the betterment of the State.”
In his speech earlier, the Chairman of the Event and representative of Ebonyi North Senatorial District, Senator Samuel Egwu, admonished journalists in the country to always employ the tenets of objectivity, non-partisanship and impartiality in the practice of journalism, adding that by so doing the country’s democracy would be placed on a strong footing.
The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Ebonyi State Council, Deaconess Veronica Osim, in her remarks explained that the event was organized for journalists to take some time off to reflect on their achievements, roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis the consolidation of Nigeria’s democracy.
While Osim appreciated Governor Umahi for his visible achievements in the State and his enabling environment for hitch-free journalism practice, she appealed to him to make good his promise of allocating a plot of land to journalists in the State to develop a residential estate.
The event featured awards and special recognitions to people who have distinguished themselves in various spheres of endeavour, including Governor Umahi, who received Award for Excellence in leadership.