The editors, in a 13-point communiqué at the end of their four-day annual conference held in Port Harcourt Rivers State, said, “There is a serious problem with the nation’s economy as a result of over-reliance on oil and gas as source of revenue for the country and there is urgent need to diversify the economy”
In line with the theme of the conference, ‘Economic Diversification: Agriculture As Option For A Prosperous Nigeria’, the NGE declared that Agriculture is the most viable option to adopt to revive the nation’s economy, create employment for the army of unemployed youths, and usher in prosperity for the country and its peoples.
Last month, the NGE rose from its 2nd quarterly Standing Committee meeting in Abuja with a call on the government to urgently address what it called the bad shape of an economy “showing signs of recession, as statistics of unemployment is worsening while the future looks bleak”.
The editors pointed out in their Port Harcourt message that:
- The media has a major role to play in efforts to redirect the consciousness of Nigerians especially the youth towards embracing modern, technology-driven agriculture
- Government must urgently evolve or strengthen policies that protect local farmers against influx of foreign agricultural products and encourage local production for food sufficiency and processing of raw materials for export
- Skills needed for agricultural production and processing should be stressed above mere certification for the sake of it
- Government should quickly recapitalize and make more functional the Bank of Agriculture and other institutions relevant to the agricultural programmes of the country
- Formation of more Farmers’ Co-operative societies should be encouraged while those already in existence should be strengthened to improve on their productivity
- States should collaborate in the areas of agricultural production and processing, using the areas where they have comparative advantage
Guests at conference echoed similar sentiments in their presentations. The Governor of the southwestern state of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, pointed out that only well fed people can drive economic development.
According to Aregbesola, “Good nutrition is the primary basis of good health. Good nutrition therefore drives productivity…”
The governor advocated bringing innovation into agriculture with the input of scientific farming practices, cutting edge technology, diffusing ideas and getting new ideas from research to farmers in order to improve productivity.
His Rivers State counterpart, Governor Nyesom Wike who hosted the conference, said the challenge was that of attracting critical investments into large-scale commercial agriculture to create employment, grow the economy, provide food security and increase export revenue.
The Guild commended the government and people of Rivers State for the level of security and infrastructural development as well as for the steps being taken to promote agriculture in the state.
On the contrary, the nation’s senior editors lamented the decline in the quality of journalism practice and non-adherence to the ethics of the profession and called on editors to make efforts to redress the situation in their different organisations.
The Guild ratified Mrs Funke Egbemode, the Managing Director/Editor in Chief, Telegraph Newspaper as its substantive President in place of Garba Deen Muhammad who voluntarily relinquished the position following his appointment as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.