With Certificate of Incorporation number CAC/IT/NO 70863, the Registrar General of Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission, Bello Mahmud, certified that, Agba Jalingo Justin, Iwara Usani Iwara, Hope Obeten John, Jeremiah Archibong Ojanga and Emmanuel Unah, can duly discharge their functions as appointed trustees of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists, ACROJ from July 10, 2014, forthwith. Additionally, the certificate recognises the birth of ACROJ, granting her legal status to so function.
For the uninitiated, ACROJ umbrellas a select body of men and women who have elected to practice journalism through a most veritable tool, the internet. It is pertinent to commend the vision of the men behind this feat and the litany of efforts that have certainly gone into making this dream come true while also bearing in mind that the registration of ACROJ institutionalizes online journalistic activities that centre around the professional reporting of news with an overwhelming Cross River slant. Again, it is not in doubt that the ACROJ platform will compliment the work of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in moderating the pen practice in Cross River State and stand practitioners in good stead as they work at dismantling the barriers confronting news reporting in a state with a considerably low internet penetration; 13% at the last count.
While it must be stated and clearly too that beyond the likes of crossriverwatch.com, calitown.com and calabarblogspot.com, online platforms that have been at the forefront, disseminating effectively,Cross River centred news and views, there is more than ever before a greater need for a glut of online platforms to take up the challenge of reporting accurate home news, positively influencing public opinion and becoming the voice of the voiceless especially now that another political transition beckons. It is a way of helping our people make informed choices. Those who pitch in to get news reported must understand that their responsibility is mammoth and strive to get the facts right, not sometime, but every time; it is how credibility can be built and professionalism sustained. Deliberate attempts must also be made to resist attempts by individuals and groups, no matter how well placed, to push through personal preferences as news content on this platforms since that will represent a clear enthronement of subjective objectivity, even deliberate falsehood.
With recognition legally gained, the Cross River State Government will do well to identify and define what role(s) it succinctly expects ACROJ to play in a partnership that must be centred more on the interest of a greater number of Cros Riverians, either at home or outside. Government policies, carefully and conclusively explained, can be conveyed through this platform, considering that ACROJ’s circulation figures massively outnumber those of the agencies of government charged with disseminating information. This is a window of opportunity that can save government time and help eliminate the cultivated distance between government and the governed. At no time should government see ACROJ as an adversary; in instances where disagreements occur, as they will occur with time, such disagreements should be seen more as an opportunity to redefine the rules of engagement, no more, no less.
Without mincing words, ACROJ has the capacity to generate jobs and engage a large number of Cross Riverians who are unemployed. On the strength of this and more, support from all facets of the larger Cross River society is important if this association is to realise her full potentials; it is a challenge we must collectively respond to.
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