For people who were able to make it to the Ibrahim Abacha Youth Centre, Shendam Road, Lafia on Thursday November 21, 2019, they will affirm or attest to the fact that Eggonnews was, simply put, greatly honoured.
The number and calibre of people at the occasion marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment and existence of the Eggonnews Community Newspaper speak volumes about the impact the newspaper has had over the years.
He roll call of attendance goes thus: The Governor of Nasarawa State, Engineer Abdulahi A. Sule was represented by the Deputy, Dr Emmanuel A. Akabe who was accompanied by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Aliyu Tijjani Ahmed, the Head of the State Civil Service, Mr Nicholas Abari Aboki, the Honourable Commissioner of Lands, Assoc Prof Alizaga and a large number of Senior Special Advisers and Permanent Secretaries. The Director General, Directorate of Strategic Communications and Press Affairs to the Governor of Nasarawa State, Yakubu Lamai was also present.
The guest speaker, a renowned and highly celebrated and cerebral journalist, Chief Dan Agbese came in all the way from Lagos.
Others dignitaries present were: the Emir of Lafia, HRH Justice Sidi Dauda Bage I who led other traditional rulers, namely: the Osu Ajiri, Alhaji Halilu Bala Usman, the Sarkin Kwandere, Alhaji Ahmadu Al-Makura, the Aren Eggon Erro, Alhaji Usman Hudu Makeriand the Aren Koro Kuje, Mr Joseph S. Namo JP.
Among the several dignitaries were: Senator Suleiman Adokwe who stood in for the Chairman, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Senator Solomon Ewuga, Danladi Halilu Esq, Alhaji Zakari Idde (now late)
The following were represented at the occasion: Alhaji D S Kigbu mni, former Federal Permanent Secretary, Honourable Abdulkarim Usman Ombamas, Member representing Akwanga/Wamba/Nassarawa Eggon Federal Constituency, and Honourable Jonathan Gaza Gbefwi, Member representing Karu/Keffi/Kokona Federal Constituency.
Also present were Honourable Dr Joseph H Kigbu and Honourable Mohammed Ibrahim Alkali who represented the other three Eggon Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly.
The General Manager of Radio Nigeria Precious FM Lafia, Mallam Musa Abdullahi, the Chief Executive of Breeze FM, Lafia, Dr Nawani Aboki, the Director of News and Current Affairs of Nasarawa Broadcasting Service, Mr Flashman Aloko, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Press Council, the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists represented by Chief Wilson Bako, the Vice President North Central zone of the Union and indeed the leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nasarawa State Council were there. There was large number of practising journalists!
Also present were: former Chief Judge of Nasarawa State, Justice Ahmed Ubangari, the Anglican Bishop of Lafia Diocese, Rt Rev Godwin Adeyi Robinson, the Reverends (Very Rev Dave Denji and Rev Great Bladu Audu) and members of ERCC Gloryland, the President, Eggon Cultural and Development Association, Pastor Wilberforce Alaku, the EXCO of Eggon Cultural and Development Association Women Wing led by the President, Mrs Rose Aminu Attah, and the President, Eggon Youth Movement, Comrade Daniel Anyuabaga.
Mention should made of the presence of Hon Chief Mrs Mary E Enwongulu, Chief George E Bashi, Barr James O. Agbo, Major Tobias Akwashiki (Rtd), DCG Sule Alu (Rtd), Hon Adamu Muazu Adogi, Barr Z Z Allumaga, Dr Saratu Audu, Alhaji Zakari Umaru-Kigbu, Dr Ishaku Akyala and Mrs Grace Otaki.
Also present were: Rev Father Lawrence Soja Anyembugu, Mr Steve Azizi, Mr David Faith Allu who was accompanied by the players and supporters of the famous Aklosendi International Football Club of Lafia, Comrade Esala Asehnanye, Engr Esla Abimiku, Comrade Isaac Kigbu, Comrade Isaac Usman Anzaku who led the leadership and members of a fast-growing facebook socio-cultural group, known as Ame Wo Ba Eggon (AWBE).
To ensure good organisation and running of the programme that day were the Chairman, Professor Victor S. Dugga and members of the planning committee of the anniversary celebration.
Although the programme was scheduled to start 10:00am, it started about one and half hours later due to late arrival of guests.
One thing should however be reported that the occasion held on a working day, Thursday, with most of the civil and public servants at their respective places of work many of who sent in their goodwill messages.
That notwithstanding, there was a huge presence of civil servants, private sector workers and remarkable presence of the Eggon community.
The programme started in earnest with the opening prayers offered by Rev Fr Anyembugu of St John Catholic Church, Awe and the Nigerian National Anthem.
In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Professor Victor Dugga appreciated the presence of the dignitaries and explained the essence of the celebration.
The Chairman of the occasion, Senator Suleiman Asonya Adokwe, in his speech went down memory lane about his involvement with the media and commended the sacrifice made by the Editor/Publisher of Eggonnews who he said has weathered the challenges of community journalism.
The Special Guest of Honour, the Governor of Nasarawa State spoke through the Deputy Governor, saying,
“On behalf of the government and entire good people of Nasarawa State, I wish to felicitate with Eggonnews as you attain the milestone of 20 years of community journalism which has for two decades given insight to details of national and community life with an Eggon perspective.
“I wish to state for the records that Nasarawa State is proud of Eggonnews for being one of the earliest institutions of credible journalism.
“I personally salute the locally-oriented approach of Eggonnews which through the years, the newspaper has encouraged the rise of other community papers and newsletters in Nasarawa State.
“The style of Eggonnews is to bring to the public professional news coverage that typically focuses on our rural districts, villages and small towns, therefore ensuring that even the poorest voice of our people is heard loud and clear from the most distant village.
“Eggonnews has for twenty years reflected the Eggon community, protected its cultural legacies and told its stories; while embracing and inspiring a leadership role for the Eggon people in the state and national affairs.
“It is my firm belief that from its professional and insightful reportage, Eggonnews has helped to inspire Eggon people to be the best they can be and contribute positively to the development of Nasarawa State, while setting a standard for the archiving of cultural memory for generations unborn.
“Thank you for your service to Nasarawa state and congratulations on your 20th anniversary Eggonnews!
“As a token of our government’s gratitude for your inspiring role in society, we wish to contribute a token donation of N3 million naira to sustain the good works and exemplary professional legacy of Eggonnews.”
The Emir of Lafia and the accompanying traditional rulers could not stay to the end of the programme and had to leave because of other engagements. However, that was after the Emir delivered a goodwill message where he stressed his high regard and commendation for the Eggonnews.
He promised to give the newspaper the support to thrive in community service of informing and educating the reading public.
The Guest Speaker, Chief Dan Agbese who is Former Editor-in-Chief, Newswatch magazine and Executive Director, MayFive Media spoke on the topic: Democracy and Development: Community Newspapers in the Age of Fake News.
In the presentation, he said “politicians are the loudest voices of condemning fake news sources but I tell you this: politicians are the greatest sources of fake news.
“Their capacity to manufacture and purvey fake news is legendary, fishing the opportunity to pile it on opponents to sink them in the choppy waters of primitive politics, here and elsewhere.”
Agbese, added that all news media suffered from what he described as virus of manipulations by the government, institutions and individuals while rendering services to the public, saying Eggon news also faced with peculiar situation for the past twenty years of community services.
“If a community newspaper is the only medium in town open to the people, the threat is complicated, it is easily vulnerable to the manipulation of those pursuing political, ethnic and religious interest.
“Politicians have the intolerable habit of insisting that they are more entitled than others to be heard and to be heard say, in the community newspaper, they are prepared to persuade the editor to give them special treatment”, he said
The guest speaker then called on the media in the country to employ professionals called for fact checkers, adding that checking every piece of information available to media should be taken with all sense of seriousness to maintain the integrity of the medium.
He then advised the management of Eggonnews to keep “doing what you have done in the last twenty years to grow and survive the hostile economic, social and political weather.
“I leave you with this journalism creed from two US newspaper men, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel:
- Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth
- Its first loyalty is to the citizens
- It must serve as an independent monitor of power
- Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
- It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
“And if I may add, it must defend its honour and integrity.”
One of the major highlights of the occasion was the presentation of awards to some individuals and organisation who the organising committee described as deserving of such honour.
Those who were so honoured were: Majalisan Maccido Andaha Foundation for being a Platform For Sustained Commitment To Community Development; Ame Wo Ba Eggon (AWBE) for being a Platform For Youth Mobilisation & Community Development; Comrade Isaac Kigbu for being A Model For Compassion And Service To Community and Senator Godiya Akwashiki, for Touching Lives Through Grassroots Development Projects
Others were: Dr. Moses Arigu, For Demonstrated Innovation, Teamwork, Passion & Achievements In Public And Private Service; Centre For Women, Youth & Community Action (NACWYCA) For Exemplary Effective Impact on Community, Women And Youth Development; Family Healthcare Foundation (FAHCI), For Public Mobilization in Health & Community Development
Also honoured were: Danladi Halilu Envulu-Anza OON, For Sustained Commitment To Community Development; Revd. Fr. (Dr) Lawrence Soja Anyembugu, For Grassroots Priestly Services & Community Development; Hon. Dr. Joseph Haruna Kigbu, For Dedicated Free Health Services & Efforts Where They Count Most – To The Poor; Aklosendi International FC, For Engendering Community Spirit Through Football As A Unifying Factor and Alhaji Abdullahi Sabo Muku, For Exemplary Public Service & Philanthropy.
Others were: Barr Labaran Shuaibu Magaji, For Contributions To Community Development; IGP Mohammed Adamu mni, For Building Effective Security Strategies for Nigeria; Hon. Jonathan Gaza Gbefwi, For Being A Youthful Grassroots Politician &Offering Hope Through Effective Representation; Alhaji Isiyaku Abdullahi, For Sustained Community Development; Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wasem For Exemplary Commitment To People and Community Development; Comrade Daniel Anyuabaga Yaro, For Youth Leadership & Development Activism; Mr Stephen Yakubu Azizi, FCA, For Selfless Community Service and Islamic Society of Eggonland, For Humanitarian Services To Communities and People Of All Faiths.
There was a category of award described as Special Award Of Honour which was reserved for the four elected governors of Nasarawa State for what was described as Impactful Governance
They are: Senator Abdullahi Adamu (1999 – 2007); special posthumous award of honour to Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma (2007 – 2011); Senator Tanko Umaru Al-Makura (2011 – 2019) and Engr Abdullahi A. Sule (2019 -)
Goodwill messages were taken from some of the guests all of who spoke glowingly about Eggonnews, appreciating the services rendered for the past 20 years. Some of the speakers suggested a change of name of the publication for a more national name.
There was also the cutting of the anniversary cake which was presided over by the Chairman of the occasion.
On hand for the cake cutting ceremony were the Editor and his wife as well as some of the dignitaries, namely Senator Solomon Ewuga, Danladi Halilu Esq, Labaran Maku, Dan Agbese, Wilson Bako and the Acting Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Press Council.
On hand to thrill the gathering were traditional Eggon dancers from Arikpa village of Nassarawa Eggon Local Government Area.
A number of people who spoke to Eggonnews correspondents at sidelines during the occasion while appreciating what many of them described as worthy sacrifice to the community, prayed and wished for greater fays for the newspaper.