NPHCDA Recognises, Rewards Outstanding Journalists

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L-R: The chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Abuja Chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche; executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Fiasal Shuaibu; and NPHCDA director, disease control and immunization, Dr. Bassey Okposen during the event in Abuja.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has recognised and rewarded journalists who have distinguished themselves in reporting issues around health in the country. 

Speaking during the award ceremony yesterday in Abuja, the NPHCDA director-general, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said lauded journalists for their contribution in sensitising Nigerian’s especially through the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure to be here today, and for me, it has been a dream come through. In terms of having the opportunity to interact with members of the media who have done such an incredible job especially in the last two years. 

“I remember when COVID-19 hit the country. There was a lot of misconception when it comes to the issue of vaccination there was a lot of misinformation and when we did an initial survey before the vaccine arrived Nigeria, 60 to 70 per cent of the respondents were undecided or said they would not take the vaccine. Now, because of the work which you all do, only about 20 to 30 per cent are unsure of receiving the vaccine. We organised this media engagement to say ‘thank you’ for the outstanding work that you have done.

“I did not know how challenging it is to be a journalist until I got into this position as the executive director. I have engaged with many journalists to the extent that I can call some my friends. I have seen the honesty, commitment, dedication to your work; so much that the moment I see text messages from some of you, I know that you are asking these questions for the sake of Nigeria.

“You ask questions because you are passionate about doing your work, about doing the right thing. You are trying not to get news for the sake of it but because you know that by sharing correct information, we can work together towards getting to the pathway of development that will ensure that Nigeria occupies er place in the comity of nations. 

“I want to commend all of you for the work you have done. We have done a lot of things in the last 1-and-a half years, but we couldn’t have done it without your support and collaboration. A lot of you are more than journalists, some of you are cheerleaders but you are the ones that encouraged us when things appeared difficult.

“When a lot of Nigerians hesitate about taking the vaccine, a number of you volunteered to take the COVID-19 vaccine and have been very strong advocates for the vaccination around the country and, because of the leadership that you have shown, Nigerians are now coming out to take the vaccine because they say ‘this media has lived with us and they understand us. If they are taking the vaccine that means the vaccine is safe’,” he said.

Earlier, the head, public relations unit (PRU), NPHCDA, Mr. Mohammad Ohitoto, thanked the journalists for doing an excellent job.

“I especially thank the ED for initiating this year’s award by NPHCDA, indeed the NPHCDA award is great. The NPHCDA media 2021 is a big opportunity given to us to improve our work. 

“I appeal that you consider making this award ceremony target at our media men/women that have shown commitment in the practice and have done the right thing the right way at the right time so that it will be a yearly award,” he stated.

In his remarks, the director, disease control and immunisation, Dr. Bassey Okposen said: “As a country we know when the pandemic started, we have little knowledge on how to get the vaccine because locally it was scarce but I saw you the journalist at the headquarters this year they spoke of enough vaccine and we have enough vaccine today in Nigeria.

“We want to sincerely appreciate the journalists for all the great work that you are doing. This is the reason we are here to appreciate you for all the good work you are doing to support the COVID-19 vaccination in the country.

“We want to make use of this opportunity to say that we have some vaccines that will expire this December and we have those that will expire by January. Nigerians should be assured that the doses of the vaccines we have will not expire before they get to the people.”

Responding on behalf of the journalists, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja Chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, commended the agency for initiating an annual event to recognise and reward journalists, saying the event will motivate journalists to put in their best in reporting on issues around health.

“I welcome the idea of an award to journalists that not only risk their lives daily but also face the hazards while covering the activities of all the health agencies and the ministry. This will motivate the journalists,” he added.

Oluchi Okorafor
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