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Governor Peter Odili Friday night received the highest honour ever to be bestowed on any citizen by the Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ......
Governor Peter Odili Friday night received the highest honour ever to be bestowed on any citizen by the Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ.
He was inducted into the NUJ's hall of fame at a colourful ceremony, which took place at the Atlantic Hall of Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt.
Expectations had been high among journalists that the Governor would personally grace the occasion but his absence nonetheless did not take the shine away from the event that attracted quite a large crowd of the who-is-who in and outside the state including natural rulers, members of the political class and national officers of the professional body led by its President, Mr. Ndagene Akwu.
Part of the citation on the Governor delivered by the General Manager of the Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation, Miss Medline Tador extolled the qualities of the honouree and explained why the number one citizen of the State who is already a fellow of the NUJ was singled out for induction into the hall of fame.
The National President of the NUJ, Mr. Ndagene Akwu, later presented the governor with a gold medal, a beautiful painting and a plaque in recognition of his selfless service.
Also honoured were the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Austin Opara, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Senator I.S. Martyns-Yellowe and Barrister Celestine Omehia, Executive Assistant to the Governor on Administration and Inter Religious Matters.
Speaking through the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of the State, Odien Ajumogobia, SAN, who represented him at the occasion, Governor Odili urged journalists to maintain high professional standards in the discharge of their functions.
He thanked journalists for the honour done him and spoke of the important role that they play in facilitating good governance.
In his own remark, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly noted he was grateful to the NUJ for the honour, stressing that although he was usually press shy and unwilling to accept awards, he had personally attended the occasion because of his respect for journalists.
He observed that even though he was close to journalists, he seldom came too close because as some one once told him journalists both have the power to build and destroy.
The speaker urged the press to promote excellence, saying members of the noble profession had a unique duty to ensure that only persons who can be trusted are allowed to step into the exalted seat of the governor of Rivers State.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Austin Opara who was away on assignment in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State Capital urged journalists to continue to generate ideas that would make democracy work.
Speaking through an aide, Opara expressed delight at the honour done him and journalists should not relent in carrying out their duties in the interest of the general good.
In his speech, Senator Martyns Yellowe said he hoped that the event would help resolve the differences that may exist among the major players within the PDP, particularly among those who were present at the NUJ event.
The senator who has been severally acknowledged as the nation's number one senator seized the opportunity to thank members of the union for the honour bestowed upon him.
Barrister Celestine Omehia in his response thanked the NUJ on behalf of himself and others honoured by the NUJ.
He said he was surprised despite the fact that he was far removed from the public eye, the NUJ could still fish him out and recognize his contributions.
He expressed joy at the development and thanked journalists for the honour done him.
Earlier, the President of the NUJ, Mr. Ndagene Akwu had hinted that the NUJ had decided to be miserly with the presentation of awards, saying it has however agreed to honour the Rivers governor and four others because of their sterling qualities.
He acknowledged that there were people who have a wrong notion of journalists, stressing that journalists were friends and committed people who are devoted to the discharge of their historic and constitutional roles.
He heaped encomiums on the governor of Rivers State and expressed optimism that the South-South people have every chance to realize their ambition to snatch power in 2007.
The Eze-Oba of Ogbaland, Oba Chukwumela Nnam Obi II and a patron of the NUJ who chaired the occasion congratulated journalists for organizing the event.
He said the role of the journalist in molding opinions and shaping the future of society is very significant and urged journalists to remain steadfast in the discharge of their societal and profession obligations.
Dignitaries at the occasion included the Eze Ekpeye Loogbo Eze Robinson O. Robinson, the Eze Gbakagbaka, Eze Frank Eke, Apostle G. Numbere founder of the Greater Evangelism World Crusade, the Commissioner of Transport, Chief Emeh Glory Emeh and the Chairman of the Rivers State Council of the NUJ, Mr. Benneth Kalio
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