Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, was on Wednesday night conferred with the Distinguished Friend of the Media Award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The umbrella body of journalists in Nigeria described Governor Diri as “a champion of press freedom in Nigeria’s governance space and one who has actively supported press freedom.”
The award plaque was presented by the NUJ President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, at a ceremony held at the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre of the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2021 Press Freedom Day.
In his brief remarks, the governor, who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief Benson Agadaga, said he was elated to be considered for the award despite turning down several of such offers and letters since assuming office.
He commended the NUJ for the recognition and honour while praising journalists in general for their sacrifice despite the daunting challenges they face in doing their job.
“As the watchdog of society and the fourth estate of the Realm, the media is and remains an important vehicle in the development of any country and society.
“I urge the media to be constantly conscious and guided by its unique and significant place in a democracy like Nigeria’s and continue to play that role courageously. It should not be overwhelmed by the challenges of the moment,” Diri said.
He added that within months of assuming office, he received a plethora of award offers and letters.
“Within the first few months of assuming office, I began receiving letters for awards, which I turned down because of my focus and commitment to the development agenda for Bayelsa State. I did not want to be distracted by such offers.
“But I did not turn down that of the NUJ because journalists are the mirror of the society. You can tell the political office holders and leaders that are performing well through the media. Society expects objectivity in their assessment and observation. I therefore thank the NUJ for this recognition and for finding me deserving of this award.”
Other recipients include Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who gave the awards lecture represented by the Deputy House Leader, Peter Akpatason, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin Barau, who was chairman at the event, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria among others.