The longest surviving state government-owned newspaper in Nigeria, The Pioneer, published by the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), has celebrated three decades of uninterrupted publication.
The celebration which started with a thanksgiving service at the Qua Iboe Church, 112 Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, Sunday, April 8, 2018 climaxed with a lecture/award night, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, the exact day and month the newspaper hit the news stand in 1988.
Gov Udom Emmanuel at the event congratulated The Pioneer on the feat, noting that the medium since inception has been telling the Akwa Ibom story and has also helped in defining and redefining the Akwa Ibom character and identity, struggles and achievements.
He saluted the management (led by Mr Umoette Umoette) for not deviating from the mission of the newspaper and expressed delight that The Pioneer was not only still standing strong, but thriving due to the courage and dedication to duty by the past and present management as well as staff of the establishment .
Represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, the governor called on the media community to partner the state government on its development strides.
He warned against criticisms that were based on malice and with the intent to destroy.
“Let us disagree on policies without adopting the kitchen sink approach, let us build our state irrespective of our political leanings, let us celebrate our common values and where there is need to disagree, let us do with love and mutual respect”, he stated .
The commissioner for information and strategy, Mr Charles Udoh observed that The Pioneer has been playing pivotal roles in information dissemination, maintaining that it has contributed greatly to the growth and development of both the state and the country.
The information boss lauded the progenitor of the Newspaper, Mr Moses Ekpo, the current Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State,who was the Commissioner of information during the military administration of Col. Tunde Ogbeha in Akwa Ibom State which established the Newspaper, adding that it was pleasing for him to share in the euphoria today while on the saddle as the number two citizen of the state.
The member for Onna State Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mr Nse Essien, noted that The Pioneer, which was established on the basis of leadership and service, has not deviated from the vision of its founding fathers and called on other media establishments to emulate the newspaper for responsible press as against yellow journalism.
The chairman on the occasion, Professor Enefiok Essien, said at 30 the medium has done great things and congratulated the staff for their hardwork and dedication to service
Essien, who is the vice-chancellor of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), commended the past state military administrators and governors for their foresight and for sustaining the newspaper to live beyond its name.
He described the tabloid as a credible news medium which has enjoyed good circulation within the state and beyond.
In a public lecture titled;The Role of the Media in Pioneering Leadership and Service, the rector of Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Prof. Sylvanus Udoidem, noted that with three decades of existence, The Pioneer as a government medium has justified the message in its motto: For leadership and Service.
Udoidem reasoned that leadership and service bring changes in the society, and if the media does not change the mindset of the society positively, then they do not fulfill their obligation.
The don commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for bringing the spirit of re-awakening through dakkada in the state .
The general manager/editor in-chief, Mr Umoette Umoette, said since inception the newspaper in discharging its primary function of information dissemination, education and entertainment has been providing constructive guidance to the public on matters of public interest, presentation of problems, aspirations and achievements of the government and the people as well as guiding against unlawful invasion of liberties and rights of the indigenes and beyond.
Umoette, who is also the senior special assistant to the governor on media, remarked that with the strong commitment of the present administration to strategically transform and re-position AKNC to an enviable height, the newspaper was poised to deliver on its prime responsibility of conveying information and knowledge to the public domain in a timely, strategically and politically correct manner.
He appreciated the governor for taking special interest in The Pioneer and his deputy for laying a solid foundation for sustainable growth, and pledged to repay the trust and confidence reposed in the management by maintaining the high standards that have kept the newspaper afloat for the past 30 years.
The AKNC boss acknowledged the reading public for patronage, the multinationals, non –governmental and governmental institutions as well as corporate organizations for their tremendous support to keep alive the establishment.
Highpoint of the ceremony which took place at the Emerald Event Centre, Uyo, was the conferment of awards on the Governor Udom Emmanuel, the Deputy Governor; Mr. Moses Ekpo, former civilian governors, Obong Victor Attah and Senator Godswill Akpabio, the pioneer military administrator, Senator Tunde Ogbeha and Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga.
Others were: the speaker, Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, (AKHA), Mr Onofiok Luke, the senator for Akwa Ibom North East, Senator Bassey Albert, the representative of Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika in the House of Representatives, Mr Emmanuel Ekon, the chairman, Ibom Deep Seaport Steering Committee, Mrs Mfon Usoro and a post-humus award for the first executive editor of The Pioneer newspaper, late Professor Etim Anim.
Corporate and institutional awards went to Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, an EXxonMobil affiliate; Total E & P Limited, Ministry of Information and Strategy, the Akwa Ibom Judiciary, Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Programme (FEYReP), Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise Development Scheme (AKEES), DIG Udom Ekpoudom of Tower of Ivory Schools, Dr Emmanuel Abraham of Topfaith International Schools, My Unyime Idem of Idems Ultimate Ltd, Chief Ben Udobia of Betnest Technical Services, NANET Hotels, Mr Uwem okoko of HENSEK Engineering Company.
Also bestowed with awards were; Mr Nsikak Johnny of Nsik Motors, Samuel/Isabella Foundation, Prince Anniekan Etuk of the Oliver Tweests and the Aka community, landlord of the newspaper house.
Pix 1: The Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo reading the April 11, 2018 edition of The Pioneer newspaper at the grandfinale of the 30th anniversary of the paper in Uyo, recently while the general manager/editor-in-chief, Mr Umoette Umoette (left) looks on.
Pix 2 : The Akwa Ibom governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo receiving the Governor of the Year /Man of the Year 2017 Award presented to him by the general manager/editor-in-chief of the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation, (AKNC), Mr Umoette Umoette at the grandfinale of The Pioneer @ 30 celebration in Uyo, recently.
Pix 3: The Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo (5th left) assisted by the General Manager/Editor-in-Chief, Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation, (AKNC), publishers of The Pioneer Group of Newspapers, the longest surviving State Government-owned newspaper in Nigeria, Mr Umoette Umoette (6th right) and wife, Eunice (5th right), DIG Udom Ekpoudom rtd (3rd left) and wife (4th left) cuts the 30th Anniversary of The Pioneer cake while the member for Abak/Ika/Etim Ekpo Federal Constituency, National Assembly, Rt.Hon, Emmanuel Ekon (4th right), the Akwa Ibom PDP Secretary, Mr Harrison Ekpo (3rd right), Managing Director of Idems Ultimate Ltd, Mr Unyime Idem (2nd right) and wife, Engr Helen (right) and a former General Manager of AKNC, Deaconess Ekaette Ekpo and Otuekong Nse Essien, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly representing Onna State constituency (in between Ekaette Ekpo and Ekpoudom) look on during the celebration of 30 years of the paper in Uyo, Wednesday.