By Our Correspondent

Delta State Governor, Sen. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has advised social and online media practitioners to adhere strictly to the principles of fairness and balance in their publications.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

Okowa made the call on Thursday in Lagos at the formal launch of the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN).

According to the Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, “As far as I am concerned, if a medium constantly publishes verifiable truth, it is for the good of the society, as long as the principles of fairness and balance are strictly adhered to.

“Let the truth be your watchword at all times. It is only truth that can stand the test of time and make those who disagree with you to earn your respect”.

Governor Okowa further advised that writers should also seek to answer pertinent questions, saying, “There are questions that writers should always seek answers: is my intention to build; is my quest for the public good; will it promote good governance and sustainable development? These are the salient questions that need to be addressed in the course of your duties.

“I am happy that a good majority are purpose driven. They see hopes instead of despair, opportunities in the face of global economic meltdown, the dire need for the diversification of the economy and the unity of our people. To this group, I commend your efforts”, he stated.

Okowa used the opportunity to inform the publishers of his administration’s S.M.A.R.T agenda which is aimed at creating wealth and meaningful job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths and others in the state.

“The present administration in Delta State understands the dire consequences of high youth unemployment of any society. This explains our commitment towards wealth and job creation. We are tackling this challenges through the S.M.A.R.T agenda, particularly in the areas of strategic wealth creation projects in skills acquisition, entrepreneurship and agriculture.

“In this regard, several entrepreneurship programmes on job and wealth creation have already begun. These include Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAGEP); Skill Training Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and the Production and Processing Support Programmes. Under these programmes, youths of the state are currently undergoing various internship training in various skill acquisition centres both in the state and across the country”.

The Governor said the rehabilitation of Technical Colleges in the state was as a result of the need to sustain skills acquisition.

“Presently, the technical colleges are wearing new looks. The policy objectives of these programmes are   aimed at creating jobs and wealth, to diversify the economy, engage the youths in productive enterprises, nurture entrepreneurs and leaders, promote communal peace, security and the development database of employment and unemployed youths for planning purposes”, he said.

In his speech titled “The Imperative of Standards”, President of OPAN, Olufemi Awoyemi, highlighted the high level of internet penetration in Nigeria, saying the need for standardization and regulation has become imperative.  He said the Association has set what obtains in the Euro Zone and the United States of America (USA) as its benchmark.

Giving her Keynote Address, Country Manager of Google Nigeria, Mrs Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, said the time has arrived for publishers to put on a new thinking cap because ll over the world today, “we don’t just go online, we live online. About 50 million Nigerians are online and online transcends geographical boundaries.

Guest Speaker, Mr Nduka Obiagbena, Chairman, Thisday Newspapers and President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) described online as a mass distribution platform for Media and journalism. He said what has changed is bringing in the digital age. He therefore advised online publishers to adhere strictly to the core tenets of journalism.

Among the dignitaries present at the launch include former Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi, Mr. Ahmed Sajoh, Commissioner for Information, Adamawa State, Barr. Ahmed Inuwa, who represented the Minister of Interior General Abdulraman Dambazau, Mr Dantes Odogwu, Senior Special Assistant to Delta State Governor on New Media, Charles Aigbe, Divisional Head, Marketing and Corporate Relations, UBA Group and Mr Tunde Dosekun, Director , DDB, and advertising outfit.