The Chairman, Anniversary Planning Committee of the 1st CRWatch Anniversary Lecture coming up on August 27, 2013, Mr. Charley Ofem has said that the event will be an auspicious occasion for the media house to take stock and appreciate the people of the state for their cooperation in the past one year as well as solicit their participation in strengthening the democratic process in the State for the benefit of the people.
In a chat today with our reporter, Mr. Ofem, who is also the Deputy Managing Director of CRWatch Resources, the Publishers of CrossRiverWatch said: “This idea that started like a joke on facebook has grown wings and taken off! We want to celebrate our flight so far with a public lecture themed: The Role of Community Journalism in Strengthening Democracy.
“The biggest single motivation behind this idea for every member in the team is not profit. It is a compulsive desire to expand the frontiers of participation for our people in the democratic process because we believe that is the sure road to a better Cross River. The greater the people participate in how they are governed, the better the society will get.
“We have at least been able to give our people a voice, a platform to reach government. And government is also gradually accepting it as a platform to reach the people. The governor reads CrossRiverWatch regularly. The members of the exco also do. In fact, we have all their data in our mailing list and our news headlines go directly into the telephone numbers of all our commissioners, LG Chairmen, the Governor, members of the State House of Assembly and those representing the State in the National Assembly, the State Chief Judge, the Commissioner of Police and other principal actors in public life in the state.
“We are hitting the one million visitors mark on the site www.crossriverwatch.com from Cross Riverians at home and in Diaspora. We are also test running our terrain with distribution of the hard copy edition of the Newspaper with plans to going full blown. So there is a lot of interaction going on. Those in government are hearing alternative views and frankly speaking they are also taking action and responding to some of the issues raised on the platform.
“We are influencing public opinion in the state now and we want to continue to build on that. Every member of the team is high on expectation. We are making our mistakes and correcting them and getting better by the day. We have a long term vision of building a media empire that will include TV and Radio, so we are not a hurry. We have come to stay. We are not a flash in the pan.”
He said this year’s lecture will be delivered by renowned female activist and 2013 recipient of the Woman of Courage Award from US State Department, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin who has already confirmed her attendance. Dr. Odumakin is also the President of the Campaign for Democracy CD, Founder, Women Arise and a long time campaigner for human rights.
Other guests who have also been confirmed for the event include, Senator Liyel Imoke, Executive Governor of Cross River State who is the Host Governor and Special Guest of Honor of the event, the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC, in Cross River State, Mr. Mike Igini, Lagos lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Barrister Festus Keyamo, the founder and publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore is also expected from New York.
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