Port Harcourt, December 1, 2021 (SIGNIS Nigeria). The Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt has played host to over 100 Catholic media practitioners from different media organizations, platforms, and dioceses for the 2021 SIGNIS – Nigeria Convention. The event was held in two venues in Port Harcourt: The Catholic Institute of West Africa, CIWA, and the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, from Wednesday, November 17 to Friday, November 19th, 2021, with the theme, Communication in the Church, “The Past, The Present and the Future”.

Bishop Camillus Etokudoh of Port Harcourt opened the event.  The Chairman of the Port Harcourt diocesan Social Communications Board, Father Hyacinth Orlu-Orlu  commended the SIGNIS leadership in Nigeria for choosing to have its convention in Port Harcourt. According to him, the timing of the convention was apt as it has added flavour to the ongoing celebration of sixtieth anniversary of the creation of Port Harcourt Diocese.

Bishop Etokudoh described the media as a very sensitive profession that has the capacity to make or break anybody or institution, depending on how it is used, adding that for that reason it is imperative that only true professionals should work on the field.

Chairman of the occasion and the former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Sir Gabriel Pidomson called on the media workers in the Church, as well as all delegates to the convention, to see themselves as Christ-bearers.  According to him, those who fail to allow the message of Christ to permeate them will not be in a good position to communicate Christ in whatever they do, and that the church as the body of Christ, remains the centre of such communication. 

For his part, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Rivers State Council, Mr. Stanley Job-Stanley charged the Church to ensure that only messages that emphasize hard work as the way to acquire wealth be preached from the pulpit.  He pledged the commitment of the union to  collaborate always with the Church for the proper reorientation of the society and the betterment of humanity in general.

In his keynote address, the SIGNIS Africa President, Rev. Fr. Prof. Walter Ihejirika called on the Catholic media workers and experts to be mindful of the Church’s identity in the face of various competing identities in the midst of the social media revolution. Prof. Ihejirika stated that the call to safeguard the Church’s identity has become necessary.  Many people can now profess whatever identity they chose in the social media space.

The 2021 SIGNIS - Nigeria convention was organized in conjunction with the Centre for the Study of African Culture and Communication, CESACC, the Communication Studies department of the Catholic Institute of West Africa, CIWA. Activities including the presentation of papers and the annual general meeting took place at the Pastoral Centre, Igwuruta, in the Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Innocent Iroaganachi, SIGNIS Correspondent, with Kingsley Izejiobi in Port Harcourt