BEING A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF JOURNALISTS INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR MIGRATION (JIFORM), AJIBOLA ABAYOMI, DURING THE ONLINE SUMMIT OF THE FOUNDATION FOR MIGRATION JOURNALISTS ON APRIL, 4, 2020.

Protocol,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen.

This summit marks a turning point in a collective effort to further enhance our skills as migration journalists. That underscores the purpose of our gathering today.

It is an open secret that the entire world is struggling to contain the pandemic occasioned by the deadly Coronavirus popularly called COVID 19. In the midst of this, we cannot underestimate the need to update our knowledge as purveyors of information.

Giving the situation at hand, we had to creatively explore the tool of technology to enable us converge on JIFORM Whatsapp platform to reinforce our skills as journalists, migration as core beat and to be ahead of the current trends.

The history of COVID 19 in China since 2019 at this point in time is immaterial rather we should key into various efforts being put in place to contain the disease while also observing all the health procedures with other scientific instructions to enable us stay alive to tell the triumphant stories soon.

As we continue to offer prayers for the speedy recoveries of all the affected persons globally, I bring to you a message of hope that issues of social distancing, lockdown, and the pandemic have terminal date if we all adhere to the safety rules in our nations.

At this junction, appreciation goes to all of us for inputs towards the promotion of JIFORM as a brand.

Not many would belief that the foundation started in 2018 considering the impacts and attentions we as non-profit organization leading the advocacy against irregular migration, human trafficking and crisis leading to displacement of citizens in nations have made across the world. Today, there are over 150 journalists apart from other volunteers on different continents who are members of JIFORM.

After our inaugural international summit in Abuja, Nigeria on November 26-27, 2019, it is interesting to state that we were part of World Migration Summit for journalists facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Tunisia where a charter was developed for journalists covering migration.

Also in our bid to improve the career of our members, many of them have been recommended and they had participated in training programmes on migration in last six months at different times.

Regrettably, international partnerships that would have translated into several training opportunities has to be put on hold as a result of the present pandemic.

However, we are not deterred as we look forward to the future with great hope and expectation. 

Ladies and gentlemen, for the record we owe it a duty to acknowledge the support of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Muhammad Babandede, MFR as we count our blessings.

When many doubted our zeal to host the maiden migration summit, we are proud to say that the JIFORM Local Organising Committee led by the Deputy Comptroller Sunday James, the National Public Relations Officer of the NIS led us to success with great honour. That milestone will forever remain green in our memory.

Words are inadequate to thank the Lagos State Government for the encouragement from the center of excellence, most especially the inspiring effort of a friend indeed and great leader, the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Mr Gbenga Omotoso.

To Chief Chris Isiguzo, the President of the great Nigeria union of Journalists (NUJ) and Dr Qasim Akinreti, the Chairman Lagos NUJ Council, please accept our appreciation for the supports.

Mention must also be made of a friend with a helping hand, Professor Ikechukwu Anthony Kanu, O.S.A, the Rector of Villanova Polytechnic, Imesi-Ile, thanks for being a real volunteer.

We are grateful to SEEFAR, the noble social enterprise working for the benefits of mankind and others, including the participants, history will be kind to you all for making the event a huge success.

Going forward, as we anticipate victory over the ravaging COVID 19, strategies are being mapped out to resume fully the calendar of JIFORM activities in 2020.

In January, we visited Home For The Needy Foundation in Benin, Edo State, Nigeria which hosts thousands of internally displaced persons.

We equally regretted the postponement of the anti-human trafficking summit slated for Villanova Polytechnic, Imesi-Ile Osun State on March 24 due to the global situation beyond our control.

Let me reassure that all our international training prorgrammes both within and outside Africa shall commence as soon as the situation improves.

To achieve all these, we need the support of government, international agencies and donors to combat human trafficking and further spread the gospel of regular migration in all nations through responsible journalism.

Government especially in Africa must wake up to the reality of creating opportunities for the people. We must be ready to banish hunger and poverty in order to encourage our people to identify the potentials of the land.

It is important for journalists in Africa to tell the real positive stories of the environment rather than the usual negativities from the outside. Henceforth, we shall take special interest in using videos to illustrate the story of continents better.

JIFORM believes migration is the bed rock of the economy so therefore all nations must redefine their policies to the benefits of the migrants as economic developers.

The media must refrain blaming the migrants for their situations in many instances without due investigation. I crave your indulgence to further demand that the word ‘illegal’ as an adjective should never be used to qualify migrants so as not to continue to unduly empower the security personnel to deal with them as criminals.

Migration as a global phenomenon is not a crime. Both regular and irregular migration are parts human endeavours, however all migrants are enjoined to always possess all the required documents before accessing any country.

The developed nations, instead of the usual war against especially irregular migrants, they should be allowed and assisted to regularize their status, as provided for in the international law. Nigeria has shown the way forward  through e-migrant registration anchored by the NIS.

Dear colleagues, we must stand in solidarity with our respective nations at this trying moment. As professionals, we should discourage the circulation of fake news and other sensitive editorial materials not in the interest of nation building.

We must remember among other things that we are called to genuinely inform, educate and entertain the audience not only as the fourth estate of realm but as public watch dog.

Finally, I implore all of us as we listen to the respectable speakers to take advantage their presentations to improve ourselves, stay fit and remain on top of our chosen profession as journalists.

Thank you for the attention.

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