The Edo State government has debunked reports making the rounds that the government plans to demolish the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Edo State Council building in Government Reserved Area (GRA), Benin City.
In a statement, the Edo State commissioner for communication and orientation, Chris Osa Nehikhare, described the report as unfortunate and filled with misinformation.
He said, “The Edo State government is aware of an unfortunate report issued by the Edo State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists titled: Obaseki Plans to Make Edo Journalists Homeless.
“There is no plan whatsoever to neither demolish the NUJ building nor build a museum on the NUJ site. The Edo State government is doing some initial survey and study work in connection with the preservation and protection of the ancient Benin walls and moats. The NUJ site borders some of the most visible sections of the walls and moats in the city, and archaeologists and specialist architects have visited areas around the moats with a view to determining how best to assist the National Commission of Museums and Monuments with the preservation of the moats.”
“The ancient walls and moats of Benin are one of the greatest achievements of medieval Africa, some of which date back to the 12th century,” he noted.
According to the commissioner, “Unfortunately they have suffered significantly in recent times due to environmental pressures, urban growth and encroachment. EDSG is working with institutions like the NCMM and EMOWAA who are vested and interested in improving our systems of heritage management, and are developing a comprehensive programmeof research, conservation management and public education centred on these monuments.”
He added: “Our goal is to find ways to protect moats and walls, and also to consider ways to highlight the moats to encourage tourism and accessibility. It can be rightly stated that the media practitioners have not only enjoyed a cordial working relationship with our government, but have enjoyed an unfettered rein of reportage. In line with government’s tradition of presenting the facts of all matters for public scrutiny and understanding, we are compelled to inform the general public of EDSG well-intentioned and very deliberate action in our drive to create a tourism market in our state.”
The commissioner added, “Edo State government has enjoyed objective reportage of all its activities. Therefore, we enjoin Journalists to remain objective in all matters without sentiments.”