Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture has promised that Nigeria will do all it takes to enable the Pan African News Agency (PANA) fulfil its mandate.
The Minister on Wednesday gave the assurance while meeting with delegations of the continental news agency, comprising the Interim Chairman of the Board, Dr. Ibrahim Daggash, and the Managing Director, Mr. Babacar Fall. He continued that Nigeria will ensure the continued survival and repositioning of the news agency.
He said Africa as a continent needs the news agency now more than ever in delivering news from the African perspective, he added that; ”If African stories cannot be told from the African perspectives by Africans, events on the continent will always be viewed from the prisms of the Western and other media – and such prisms are often distorted.
”With PANA unable to fully fulfil its mandate, Africa has continued to be portrayed as a continent of wars, diseases, deaths, famine, poverty and bad governance, among others. The spread of democracy, economic growth that for decades remained among the strongest in the world, and the end of most of the wars that bedevilled Africa for years are some of the good news coming out of Africa. But these are rarely reported.
”What we see in the media are mostly negative news that portrayed the continent as a land of plagues, poverty and hopelessness. This has fed into the desperation of many of our youths to escape from the continent at all cost, even at the gravest risks to their lives,”
Alhaji Lai Mohammed further said that a vibrant PANA which he said as of today is chronically hobbled in its struggle for survival could have helped in changing the narrative.
He continued that the aim of the African Union (then Organisation of African Unity) when PANA was established was to help Africa find its voice in the global information order but at present, the news agency itself seems to have lost its own voice.
He encouraged and urged the management of the news agency and all concerned that the kind of PANA that Africa will be proud of could emerge with creative and proper laid out strategies by all that is concerned.
He further encouraged the news agency saying; ”With the dwindling resources of many African nations, it may not be feasible to revert to assessed contributions to run the agency. Therefore, the management must be willing to think out of the box and come up with innovative ideas for the funding of the agency. I am aware that several funding initiatives have been mooted in the past, but none seems to have seen the light of day,”
Adding that major role players in the emergence of the news agency, the African Information Ministers, must take lead in effort to reposition the agency to fulfil its goal.