By Dele Fashomi / November 20, 2021

Welcome Address by Maureen Chigbo, Publisher/Editor, Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, at the Ninth Anniversary Lecture of the Magazine, held on Thursday, 18th November, 2021, Sheraton Hotel, Lagos

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and members of my constituency, the Media, permit me to stand on existing protocol to express my delight in welcoming you all to the Ninth Anniversary Lecture of Realnews Magazine Online.

We appreciate your sacrifice and support, especially at this precarious time when the world is recovering from the devastations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are overjoyed that our Guest Speaker, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is here with us. He does not need much introduction, for his exemplary reputation and oratory precedes him. We are grateful that the Executive Secretary made time out of his very busy schedule to honour our invitation.

We are also elated that Mr. Oti Ikomi, Founder and CEO of Proton Energy Ltd and the Chairman of today’s occasion, and other distinguished guests are here. We are most grateful, our Chairman. Also our basket of thanks goes to Elder Urum Kalu Eke and my big brother Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor for supporting our efforts to ensure that Mr. Ikomi made it here.

Our special welcome goes to Her Excellency, Ms. Samata Gifty Bukari, Consul General, Ghanaian Consulate General, Lagos, and Mrs. Eyono Fatayi-Williams, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG.

My special thanks goes to His Excellency, Mr. James K. Nyasembi, former Consul General of the Ghana High Commission in Lagos, and now Ghana’s Ambassador to Prague, for his efforts to ensure Madam Bukari is here today for this lecture, and Mrs. Sophia Horsfall, Manager, Media Relations, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas too for directing my attention on Mrs. Fatayi-Williams as one of our Discussants in today’s Lecture at the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in July in Abuja, when we discussed speakers for the lecture. We are most grateful. Our warm welcome also goes to officials from Proton Energy Ltd; the Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board, NLNG and Ghana Lagos Mission, who accompanied our Chairman, the guest speaker, our discussants to this lecture.

The anniversary lecture series is one way Realnews contributes to nation building and development by providing a forum for policy change-oriented discussions by professionals, scholars, technocrats and decision-makers on the way forward for our great nation and Africa in general. In 2014, we focused on elections; in 2015, the theme was on the economy, in 2016 the discussion was on security; 2017 was on the challenges of Leadership in Africa; in 2018, we dwelt on Africa’s political transitions and the economy; in 2019, the focus was on economic narrative for West Africa beyond politics with the sub-theme: The end of oil: whither the Nigeria economy. Last year, we focussed on “Managing the COVID-19 Global Pandemic in Africa: The Nigeria Experience”.

Our choice of the 2021 topic: “Nigeria in the Unfolding Integration of the African Market: The Oil and Gas Perspective” is informed by the need to escalate and broaden the conversation on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and economic challenges facing our region with Nigeria as the regional economic powerhouse. It is borne out of the realisation that at present, the Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on oil. As we think of weaning the country of this dependency and lay emphasis on gas (especially with the declaration of the decade for gas in Nigeria by the federal government), we believe speakers at the lecture can provide a guide to achieve this objective, especially as more oil and gas are being discovered in countries in Africa at a time the integration of the African market through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has begun and emphasis is shifting to sustainable renewable energy resources.”

The Lecture is also an opportunity to discuss Africa’s economic development, especially against the background of ongoing debate on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, whose implementation began on January 2021, amidst the controversy over the adoption of a regional currency by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and how this will affect exploitation of oil and gas resources in Nigeria and the continent in general.

We have a carefully selected panel of discussants with relevant expertise, knowledge and experience to shed more lights on the topic.

I would like to appeal to my journalist colleagues to ensure that the message from here today is heard in Africa and beyond. Of course, at Realnews we will ensure that we do our part by giving the widest publicity to this important lecture and the discussions. Realnews boasts a crop of seasoned journalists who believe strongly in the tenets and ethics of the profession. We are convinced that journalism as the Fourth Estate of the Realm can contribute to building a free, fair and just society where fundamental human rights are respected and where citizens enjoy the freedom to pursue their interests without let or hindrance. Our motto at Realnews is: “For God and Humanity.”

In the past nine years we have kept faith with our Vision and Mission statements. We have investigated and published exclusive stories that cover all sectors of our focus, including politics, oil and gas, business and economy, women, youth and environment etc. We can proudly say that we have done and continue to do our job with a highest sense of responsibility.

However, the modest success we have recorded at Realnews has come with its share of challenges, especially in fashioning creative ways to sustain our publication in a difficult economic environment with dwindling prospects for advertisement.

Consequently, we would like to invite everyone here, especially those who are not already on our mail list to visit our website and subscribe to our e-Newsletter to enjoy investigative reports on topical development issues rendered in professional style.

Realnews Magazine is free but without your support, from the public or private sector alike, and civil society, it will not survive! The support can be in form of advertisement, special supplement and special features on your company/organization for publication on our website. We also welcome donations and capacity building programmes for our staff to serve our clients better.

Realnews is also into media consultancy; writing of books and biographies, and image survey for companies. Over the years, the books we have published include Federal Road Safety Commission in the Eyes of the Media Volume 1 – 4; Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa, and Paragon of Journalism Volume 1 and 2. We are working on several manuscripts and require sponsors for their publication. These are some of the ways we raise money for our free-source on-line publication, with investigative journalism, as our first-love.

In addition, we also welcome whistle-blowers in the world of Realnews magazine. Rest assured that all information provided would be handled with the highest sense of responsibility and confidentiality.

Realnews Magazine is all about investigative, robust and excellent journalism. We are your partners in development, and together we will build a strong and virile society where all will be free and happy to live and invest in.

Before I conclude, permit me to appreciate and welcome members of the Realnews Hall of Fame, here present Dr. Ngozi Anyaegbunam, President, Media World, Mrs. Comfort Coleman, CEO, NEGECO Resources Limited and Sir Elvis Emecheta, CEO, Selsa/Elvis Group, and Mr. Paul Ejime, International Communications Consultant. The Realnews Hall of Fame is our modest way of honouring Lecturers and Speakers at our Anniversary Lectures for their contributions to knowledge and national development. We also honour Realnews Ambassadors.

May I also crave your indulgence to thank members of the Realnews team chaperoned by Mr. Goddy Ikeh for their commitment, hard work and sacrifice; Mr. Paul Ejime for his editorial guidance, and Mr Adama Gaye, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NewForce Africa, Senegal, Mrs Comfort Coleman, CEO, Nekego Resources and Sir Eze Emecheta, CEO, Elvis Group, for their encouragement and advice.

I cannot end this address without thanking government institutions and corporate organisations that made this year’s Realnews Anniversary Lecture possible with their support and advertisements. These are the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, ECOBANK and Bolton White Hotels, Abuja. We are most grateful to you all.

I also welcome those who are participating in this lecture via zoom and others following proceedings on the live streaming of the event on Facebook and YouTube from different countries. We appreciate you all.

Thank you for your attention and welcome one and all!

God bless Realnews! God bless Nigeria, God bless Africa.


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