The Secretary-General, African Petroleum Producers Organisation, Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, has urged stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to create a specialised fund for training of journalists that cover the industry.
Ibrahim made the call while delivering a keynote address at the third Annual Lecture and Awards of Valuechain Magazine, in Abuja, on Monday.
The lecture was themed: “The role of Media in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Reform and Investment.”
He said that for Nigerians to understand the operations of the industry, those who report its activities must be properly trained and educated.
“If we all accept that petroleum is critical to the life of our economy, it follows naturally that those reporting petroleum should be well educated on the subject.
“They should be able to inform and educate our policy makers and the general public on petroleum matters so that we all benefit from informed decisions.
“This is good for the government, the industry and for the nation, as a whole,” Ibrahim said.
He said that petroleum industry players should come together to create a specilaised fund similar to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund for training of journalists covering the sector.
Ibrahim said that the fund, when established, should provide facilities for training of members of the National Association of Energy Correspondents and Energy Editors.
“It should provide tools and working facilities, including studies and publications on petroleum, to accredited energy journalists,” he added.
He suggested that though the government through its various petroleum agencies, may contribute the larger portion of the fund’s budget, efforts must be made to ensure that it was not dominated by the government.
Ibrahim said that Nigerian journalists would be the best if given the right working environment.
“They are bold and fearless. Educationally, we have some of the best educated journalists any country can be proud of.
“I have seen Nigerian journalists attend courses with nationals of other countries and the Nigerians were singled out for special recognition because of their contributions and the new perspectives they brought to the issues.
“The problem is not with the Nigerian journalists. The problem is with the system. And how do we rectify the systemic rot,” he asked.
In his remarks, Mr Justice Derefaka, Technical Adviser to the Minister of State Petroleum Resources on Gas Business and Policy Implementation, said that empowering the media would help to drive reforms in the sector.
Derefaka said that oil and gas sector was too complex to be reported without adequate capacity building.
“There is a need to train and retrian the journalists in a complex sector like ours. I find out that in some media houses, one person is made to cover the downstream, upstream, midstream in the sector.
“It is very herculean, for one person to report the whole value chain, we need to train the media especially in research information to be able to differentiate between facts and opinions to get the desired result in the sector,” he said.
Dr Ngozi Anyaegbulam, Chief Executive Office Media World, said that the training of the media remained key to accurate reportage.
Anyaegbulam agreed with Ibrahim on the need for a special fund but noted that the fund should not be designated only for oil and gas reporters.
“A special fund is a good one but I want to plea that when such is established, it should not be restricted to just energy reporters but also to other journalists in other fields.
“This will help to give them hope on developing their career, we have the Federal University of Petroleum Resources and similar ones, they will be handy for this kind of trainings,” she said.