The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Sokaribo Augustine Oweredaba, Guests of Honour; the Royal Father of the Day, Ministers of God, Captains of industry, invited Guests, The leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Rivers State Council, Distinguished Newspaper Publishers and Editors of all the Media Houses here presented; Colleagues; Newspaper Distributors, The Press, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great joy to welcome you all on behalf of the management and staff of National Network newspaper on the occasion of our 18th anniversary to thank God for His gift of life and grace to carry on with this onerous task of serving public interest through news reporting.
As you ought to know, the journalism profession is fraught with inherent dangers, risks and challenges that only the brave, the courageous, the fearless, the passionate for public interest can dare and survive.
It is common knowledge that journalism everywhere around the globe is not for the lazy, the feebleminded, egoistic individuals or those given to egregious breach of protocol.
Journalism and, by extension, newspaper publishing, calls for deep intellect, profound knowledge of history, commitment, sound education, appreciable sense of justice, humanitarian spirit, selflessness etc.
Encouraged in this regard by the understanding that it is far better to dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs, even though it may not be easy, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat, we proceeded to establish the National Network on October 1, 2004 (18yrs ago).
Since then, there has been no looking back as we rely heavily on God’s grace and the courage of our conviction, very much aware that the world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave, “the roar of the crowds on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.”
As you all know, it is professionally and ethically required of every news organization and, or newspaper of this size and importance wishing to hit the newsstands to pass through some professional tests.
Prior to this time, therefore, National Network had endeavoured and indeed, obtained, both the registration and approval of all the statutory bodies like the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), National Library, the relevant information departments etc, and has significantly and overwhelmingly been accepted and acclaimed as the most vibrant Port-Harcourt based newspaper currently.
This is evidenced in the calibre of our editorial team led by the ace journalist, and NUJ Rivers State Council Award Winner 2000, Chris Konkwo, that’s my humble self as the Editor-in-Chief/General Manager.
To acquaint you briefly with the history of this publication, National Network as you have seen, is a national paper by all definitions of it and has truly come to stay. It is vibrant and all-encompassing, reflecting society, politics, education, business, environment, Technology, religion, philosophy, human interest etc. As a child of circumstance, National Network was conceived and born to occupy a perceived yawning gap in our chosen career.
In fact, we noticed the need, and indeed, there was the need to come up with a newspaper that was thorough, objective, balanced, fair and, at the same time, informative, educative and entertaining. It was against this backdrop that National Network was born, and since then, there has been a dramatic change on the newspaper publishing landscape in the state. This however, would not have been easy without the support of some friends, admirers and corporate organizations whose encouragement and support contributed in no small measure to the success we celebrate today.
These include but not limited to the Rivers State Government for creating the conducive atmosphere for healthy business operations, our parent professional body, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Rivers State Council, some notable citizens and personalities from across the State.
We are also grateful to other numerous friends and well-wishers whose names could not be mentioned in this address for want of time. Your support and contributions are indeed, appreciated and may the good Lord reward you abundantly in Jesus name. Amen.
May I also use this opportunity to point out that one particular feature of this 18th anniversary is the opportunity it offered us to recognize and honour a good number of notable personalities who have contributed meaningfully to the development of our society but whose identities are rarely mentioned publicly.
Their names are as published on the front page of our Special Anniversary Edition of National Network newspaper.
These honorees emerged from an opinion poll predicated on the following criteria: legendary attributes, excellence in public service; infrastructural and sports development; promotion of peace and security, skills acquisition and human capital development, administrative astuteness, philanthropy and humanitarian services, professional excellence, exemplary lifestyle, commitment to economic and spiritual development of the society, provision of life giving facilities, etc.
Having been able to weather the storm up till this time, let me also confess that it is getting tougher by the day as the prices of printing materials have skyrocketed beyond our reach to worsen the transport cost for the distribution of our newspaper and other logistics. I therefore humbly appeal to our friends and our distinguished awardees to come to our rescue by helping us secure an operational bus, etc, through their donations. As you do this, may the Almighty God bless you and replenish your pockets abundantly.
Finally, I thank the publisher, Pst. Jerry Needam, my brother, my friend and my boss and all the staff of National Network, both present and former for their individual and collective contributions which constitute an essential chapter in the success story of this great newspaper. I will always remember you in my prayers for your co-operation and comradeship.
Thank you and God bless.