- Association gets new executives, warns against attack on press freedom, free speech
By Emmanuel Addeh
The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) on Tuesday elected a new executive with its immediate past President, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Newspapers joining the league of the association’s life patrons.
Obaigbena, who is also the Chairman, THISDAY Newspapers, joined Chairman, VANGUARD Newspapers, Chief Sam Amuka and former Ogun State Governor, Chief Segun Osoba, as patrons.
The association also kicked against what it described as the steady attack on the freedom of the press as well as the right of Nigerians to free speech.
Rising from its Annual General Meetings (AGM) at its new secretariat in Lagos during which the new executive was elected, the association also restated the view that citizens hold the right to peaceful protests as clearly guaranteed under the nation’s constitution.
In a statement by its new President, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, who is the Chairman, Trust Media Limited and Secretary, Mr Mohammed Idris, Chairman Blueprint Newspapers, the group urged all stakeholders to resist through all lawful means, any attempt to curb press freedom and free speech.
“The NPAN views seriously the steady encroachment on freedom of the press and free speech, especially by state actors and urges resistance through all legitimate means to any infringement on press freedom and free speech.
“Likewise, the NPAN holds that the right to protest is a fundamental human right that must be guaranteed by the Nigerian state in such a way as to stave off violence,” it stated.
During the meeting, which also saw the emergence of Chairman Guardian Press Limited, Lady Maiden Ibru, as Deputy President; Mr. Wale Edun, Chairman, The Nations Press Limited as Treasurer and Mrs. Nwaduito Iheakanwa, Managing Director, Champion Newspapers as Publicity Secretary, NPAN urged the federal government to rise to its responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Other members of the new executive include Chairman Daily Times of Nigeria, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, who was elected as the Assistant General Secretary while Ray Ekpu, Sam Nda-Isaiah and Dennis Sami emerged as Ex-Officio members.
Deliberating on the state of the media, nation and the economy, NPAN urged the federal government to rev up its COVID-19 containment measures and procure vaccines anywhere they are available.
“The federal government should rise up to its responsibilities of protecting of life and property by stamping out terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
“And that the federal government revs its response to the COVID-19 pandemic by making aggressive effort to procure the vaccines from whatever sources as may be available and vaccinate our citizens against the deadly disease.”
On the state of the Nigerian media, the group said it reflected on the absence of paper culture on the newspaper industry in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.
It urged the federal government to make a conscious effort to revive the newsprint factories in Nigeria towards improving the health of the newspaper business and paper industry.
NPAN added: “In the interim, the government should take the newspaper business as educational venture and grant zero tariff on paper to promote education and constitutional and civic duty of the media at holding the government accountable to the people.
“That the NPAN in particular, pays deserving attention to media education in Nigeria and support the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) to achieve the stated objective for its establishment, including an upgrade to a degree-awarding media training institution in the future.”
Looking inwards, the organisation stated that as the media is evolving because of digital intrusion, the NPAN may need to, at the executive council, take another look at the situation and respond as appropriate.
- Editor’s Note: This story has been updated