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NAN, MENA partner on training, exchange programme



The Nigerian News Agency on Friday expressed its readiness to renew the working relationship with the Egyptian-owned news agency, the Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Mr. Buki Ponle, Managing Director of , revealed this when he paid a courtesy call to Amb. Ihab Awad, the Egyptian ambassador to Nigeria, at his office in Abuja.

NAN reports that the director general was received in the company of Mr. Tarek Mahfauz, Deputy Head of the Egyptian Mission in Nigeria.

Ponle recalled that at the beginning of its operations in 1978, it located one of its foreign offices in Cairo, Egypt, as a result of the cultural, social and economic ties between the two countries.

The delegation with the Egyptian Ambassador Ihab Awad and Mr. Tarek Mahfauz, Deputy Head of the Egyptian Mission in Nigeria

He told the ambassador that he was looking past the funding shortfall that previously led to the office’s closure; but he willing to reopen it due to various mutual benefits in news exchange and other services.

“We started our operations in Egypt in 1978 immediately we started our operations in Nigeria. So we had about 10 international offices in addition to the ones we had in Nigeria. The office in Cairo served the entire North African region.

”Despite all the current underlying challenge; We continue to cover African events with a special interest in North Africa. This is because Africa is at the center of our development problems in . When we started, we had a news exchange program with MENA, but it fell through at one stage.

Mr. Buki Ponle and Ambassador Ihab Awad

“Now we want these programs to be renewed. We want to re-establish a real partnership with our sister news agency in Egypt, so that we can have a continuous flow of information.

“Over the years, Egypt and Nigeria have been like children of the same mother. We share so many things in common: socially, culturally, economically, including trade and commerce. We want all these areas to be promoted and that can be achieved when we have a news exchange channel.

“We report things that happen in Egypt to our Nigerian and Egyptian audiences alike,” he said.

Ponle expressed his optimism that the association will correct some erroneous notions, help to place problems correctly and present in the proper perspective the abundant opportunities that abound in the respective nations.

“The truth is that there have been so many distortions and misinformation that must be corrected and properly located due to the communication gap that has existed.

“However, when we report in our own way and style, that is positive reporting, that is Solutions Journalism. Problems that have been distorted will undoubtedly return to their proper perspectives.

“This will help us weed out the negativity and fake news. These are some of the things that we will benefit from this association. And you are in a good position to facilitate this and make our reporting more appreciated on the African continent,” she said.

In his comment, Amb. Awad welcomed the visit with the promise to take action immediately and drive forward the process leading to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NEMA and in view of the mutual benefits.

Awad said he was very much looking forward to meeting with the MD after the information he gleaned from his own predecessor about the strength and coverage capabilities of , especially on the African continent and beyond.

He reiterated the importance that the Egyptian government and its mission in Nigeria attach to Egypt’s operations and their readiness to ensure success at both ends.

“I have been looking forward to this opportunity to meet you. Of course, I can safely say that since I got here or even before my arrival. My predecessor had noted in particular the importance he attached to the embassy’s interaction with . We hold our relationship with you in very high regard.

“We also take as very important the issue of reporting with transparency and sincerity on the main events and events that are taking place in our respective countries. This is because the media is the most influential and effective way of shaping the mindset and perception of populations.

“Although social media is also becoming very important, traditional media is still very influential and is an integral part of our overall push to improve the Egypt-Nigeria relationship. This is the role of this embassy and the role of the Nigerian Embassy in Cairo.

“So, I can’t agree with you enough that we need to take collaboration to the next level. We have to revive our cooperation in the media. I think this visit will give that push we need to achieve the result.

“We will have to receive agreement templates from the two agencies, their objectives and see how they can converge and speed up the process of signing the MoU,” he assured.

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