Being The Full Text of Welcome Address Delivered By Mohammed Idris, Chairman/Ceo, Blueprint Newspapers Limited, At The Public Presentation Of Blueprint, At Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre, Abuja, On Thursday, September 20, 2012
I am delighted and feel really, really wonderful to address this august gathering on the occasion of the public presentation of Blueprint, the newest addition to the number of daily newspapers in Nigeria. This auspicious event is the fruition of a vision to introduce a newspaper that is pleasant not only to look at but also to read.
Permit me, Mr Chairman, to relate to this gathering that even though Blueprint hit the news-stands only one year ago, yet the desire and vision to create it predated that particular moment. For many years, those who know me closely were aware of my fervent desire to contribute to the progress and development of this country through a field I have long fallen in love with – that is, the journalism profession. Even though my background was teaching in the university and, later, public relations, I have always been involved with media ownership. Almost all those that have
associated with me knew me as the publisher of a newsmagazine called The Market. We had been doing that magazine on a monthly basis for at least eight years, yet, at the back of my mind I was nagged by the desire to throw my fishing net further afield. I had observed the potential of the newspaper as a more popular medium of communication within the field of print journalism,especially after the success recorded by some of my friends in the media. I had always shared with my close friends the idea of venturing into newspaper production.
A chance discussion with another friend who has been in the newspaper field for over a decade translated my vision to practical reality. After just a few meetings on the project in the first few weeks of last year, we set the ball rolling. The final result was a weekly publication named Blueprint.
The newspaper made its debut on May 2, 2011. It received instant recognition and acceptance not only from colleagues within the media but also from readers and advertisers. It enjoyed a lot of visibility because of its approach to investigative journalism. As a weekly, Blueprint broke many stories that over-awed even its much older sisters in the field. All this is thanks to a great team of experienced journalists – some of the best in the country, I am proud to say – that came together to produce it.
So exciting was our performance within the first few weeks that we saw the urgent need to go daily within the shortest possible time. In just five months of publication, it began daily publication on September 19, 2011 – exactly one year today.
Mr Chairman, Sir, ladies and gentlemen, Blueprint was established on the core values of responsible journalism. That is why its mission statement reads more like a declaration of war against bad governance and bad journalism, as well as the defence of democracy and people’s rights. The mission statement says:
“Blueprint is committed to the tenets of democracy and the task of restoring hope to our lives as a nation. We will eagerly take our pens and fight those that threaten Nigeria’s wellbeing, unity and progress through corruption, misplacement of priorities, as well as nepotism and prejudice. At the same time, we will celebrate Nigerian achievers at home and overseas, tasking others to emulate them. We will endeavour to ensure that this news publication is well-produced, while adhering to high ethical standards of the journalism profession.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I make bold to say that that is what we have been doing in the past one year and will continue to do in the coming years. Our task is to rid the country of the dearth of information while strengthening the extent to which information can be used as power to build a more prosperous society.
Our team of editors, reporters, Editorial Board members, production and distribution staff, as well as the management and Board of Directors, have kept faith to this vision. The task of newspaper ownership and production is, no doubt, a very Herculean task. There are many challenges, some of which we knew, and some we confronted after we started. The challenges can be discouraging if one was not mentally prepared for them before one ventured into it. But we are ready. We are determined to move this project forward. That is why, Mr Chairman, after recording the feat of going daily within five months, we also made one silent achievement – and that is buying our own new printing press within a year of our starting. As I speak, a team of technicians is busy installing the printing press and we shall begin to print it at our own plant.
With that, we would be able to produce a better newspaper or newspapers and probably other types of publications that fall within our business plan.
I would ask all of you gathered here, my elders, my colleagues and friends, to receive this baby and support it in every way you can. I am sure we share the common desire of making Nigeria a better nation, a country so wholesome that we would be proud to bequeath it to future generations, not a divided, insecure and backward one which we are not sure it will survive for our children and their children to inherit.
May I use this opportunity to salute the Chairman of this occasion, former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, General Ibrahim Babadamasi Babangida, for his unwavering commitment to the unity and progress of this great country.
I also salute the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, for his clear and proven protection and promotion of democracy. Under him, we are witnessing a robust Assembly where sense of decorum and exciting oversight duties are the order of the day. I also salute the state governors gathered here for their support, love and passion for Blueprint newspaper.
My profound appreciation also goes to former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme who gave us memorable words of encouragement. Even though Dr Ekwueme could not be here with us today, he has graciously asked his dear younger brother, Dr Laz Ekwueme, who is here with us, to represent. Sir, you are welcome.
Finally, I welcome and thank every person present in this hall. Believe me, you have made my day. I know we can count on you to move this project forward for the good of Nigeria. Together, all of us, have a blueprint and commitment to the progress of our dear nation.