By CSN correspondent

The National Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Padre Mike Nsikak Umoh, has urged all Catholic media bodies to embrace synergy for the progress of the media apostolate in Nigeria.

The Director gave this challenge yesterday, Wednesday 17 November, 2021, in his special address to participants at the opening ceremony of the SIGNIS Nigeria Convention holding in Port Harcourt, where he was the Special Guest.

Padre Umoh observed that that there can be no meaningful progress in the media apostolate in Nigeria unless there is synergy in the efforts of the different media bodies and persons. He said, “On behalf of our Bishops, I wish to strongly appeal to leaders of all our media organs, and to all of us, to eschew divisive tendencies and moves, rather let us always seek synergy and collaboration. As communication experts, we must manifest this by working towards communion instead of division.”

Harping on the need for mutual respect, the Director noted that “at the very foundation, it is important that each media body and personnel is honest about who they really are in relation to other bodies and in relation to the national office. Not only because we are communicators, but also because we are Christians, there is the need for mutual respect of our persons, our offices and our functions as a basic condition for an effective and functional system.”

Padre Mike therefore challenged all the participants to a positive and Christian attitude, so as to avoid acrimonies and allow room for real media work that will bring about meaningful progress in their work and in the Church. He enjoined all not to jump over lawfully established structures, persons and positions, noting that “it is in this way that we can really grow the media apostolate in Nigeria.”

The pastoral communications icon also seized the opportunity of the convention to present the visions and goals of the national media office as approved by the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria and urged the different media bodies in the Church at all levels to key into them. He said the vision, “To develop an integrated, effective and efficient communications structure for the Catholic Church in Nigeria”, challenges all media practitioners to work as a team to build a formidable and well synergized media structure for the Catholic Church in the country. In view of this, he stressed the need for a healthy interface among the various units of the media formations in the country.

To achieve this vision, Padre Umoh presented two major goals the national office is presently focusing on. These are, firstly, to launch the Catholic Church on the Digital Space through ownership of an interactive Social Networking App on IOS and Android, and secondly, to develop a system for a coordinated Media Education Training among all Catholics in Nigeria, and particularly among all pastoral agents.

Regarding the social networking app, he stressed that it will be “a one stop data and converging point for almost everything that concerns the Catholic Church in Nigeria” and it is already running on nigeriacatholicnetwork.com. This is to be complemented by the media education programme in the Church which he said “is informed by the overwhelming importance of media education today for the mission. ….. Media education is key.  Already, in collaboration with the Pastoral Agents Department at the CSN, we have started working on a syllabus for media education in all our major seminaries.”

Furthermore, Padre Umoh introduced the Communications Week (ComWEEK) programme which the Catholic Bishops have approved to commence from May 22-29 next year, 2022. Among other things, Fr Umoh said ComWEEK will usher in media education at the grassroots in the Catholic Church in Nigeria.

Additionally, the National Director, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops, tasked the Center for Study of African Culture and Communications (CESACC), the faculty for media studies in the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, to help the Church in Nigeria produce a media use policy for the Catholic Church in Nigeria.  “May I humbly request CESACC Community led by the HOD, Very Rev. Fr. Associate Professor Inaku Egere to kindly facilitate this task on our behalf and please submit the first report to the National Office by 30th June, 2022. I appeal that we all cooperate with CESACC if and when we are called upon, as we assure our noble institution of the full support of the National Directorate for a prompt and successful delivery on this assignment.”

 

SIGNIS is the world umbrella body for all Catholics working in the media industry. In attendance at the Convention were the representative of the Catholic Bishop of Port Harcourt, Bishop Camillus Etokudoh, representative of the acting Rector of CIWA, Professor Jude Asambe, President of SIGNIS Africa, Professor Walter Ihejirika, the President of SIGNIS Nigeria, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Alumuku, the Vice Rector of CIWA, Professor Msgr. Joseph Faniran, the lecturers and students of CIWA and CESACC, Diocesan and religious congregations Directors of Social Communications, Catholic media practitioners and many other special guests.