David Diai
President Muhammadu Buhari, former Nigerian Vice Presudent Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and prominent Rivers born oil mogul and renowned philanthropist Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, are some of the big names and personalities, already confirmed to grace the Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, OMPAN, maiden national conference  in Owerri, on 30th and 31st of March 2018.
Confirmation of their attendance was disclosed by the steering committee of the ground breaking conference, headed by Comrade James Anyalekwa Emeh, National President, OMPAN, which also affirmed that the two day confab will hold at the Imo Youth centre and is expected to attract over 2, 000 online media publishers and practioners from all over Nigeria, who will start arriving Owerri, the Imo state capital, from Thursday 29 March, 2018.
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The presence of President Mohammadu Buhari, who is billed to deliver a Keynote Address at the National Convention, on Friday March 30, 2018, was confirmed by the President’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, who will represent President Buhari and also deliver the Keynote Address, which according to Miss. Onochie, is in line with the President’s recognition of the role of the Online Media to the Political Development of Nigeria.
Former Nigerian Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar confirmed his participation at the OMPAN Owerri 2018 confab, through the Director General, Atikulated Agenda 2019, Dr. Emeka Charles Kalu (ECK), in a telephone chat, who assured that Alhaji Atiku, the Turaki of Adamawa is a lover of freedom of the press and holds as sacrosanct the freedom of the press.
Dr. Kalu, who noted that the Atikulated Agenda 2019, is a group that is at the forefront of mobilizing support for candidacy of Alhaji Atiku in the 2019 general election, further affirmed that Alhaji Atiku has officially thrown his weight behind the Conference of Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN) scheduled to hold between 30th and 31st of March, 2018 in Owerri, adding that for democracy to run smoothly, there must be freedom of the press which in the only strength of the weak and warns that any attempt by any government at any point in time to choke this inalienable right do not mean well for the people.
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According to him, “The role of online media practitioners cannot be overemphasized or ignored in a digital era like this one we presently operate in. We therefore commend this effort by OMPAN because it will help to educate your members on how to imbibe the culture of professional practices. So this is a step in the right direction, it is commendable,” he enthused.
While pledging to employ all efforts to ensure the physical presence of the former Nigerian Vice President in Owerri, Chief Kalu however regreted the sudden nature of the short-notice, especially at this time when Alhaji Atiku was in deep consultations across the country over his 2019 presidential ambition, but was quick to assure OMPAN that the unfettered freedom of the press, which Alhaji Atiku is determined to project is upheld, as that is one of the cardinal points of his campaign.
The confirmation of the participation of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs at the Online media practitioners conference in Owerri, was disclosed during a telephone chat, where the charismatic and youthful Rivers state legal luminary and frontline politician, who contested the governorship of Rivers state in 2015, assured that he will identify wuth the convention because he is a lover of Information and believes in freedom of the press in Nigeria.
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Dumo Lulu-Briggs, who is also an ICT specialist and who organized an IT training and capacity building workshop, through the Dumo Lulu-Briggs Youth Foundation, DYLF23 in a technical  partnership with Google, for Rivers state youths, in Septembet 2017, noted that though he may be busy on the scheduled weekend of the convention, because of his tight schedule especially on Saturday, however assured that he would make every effort to adjust his schedules, in order to attend the event in Owerri.
A proposed programme of events released by the OMPAN Owerri 2018 conference, indicate that Imo state Governor, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, whose participation had earlier been hinted by Prince Odunze O. Odunze, Special Assistant to the on Media Production, will deliver an address and is also expected to declare the conference open on March 30, 2018.
Other speakers at the Convention, according to the programme of events, will include Dr. ACB Agbazuere, Former Commissioner for Information, Abia State; Prince Odunze O. Odunze, Special Assistant to Governor Rochas Okorocha on Media Production; Rt. Hon. Shuaibu Sani, Coordinating Coordinator, Nasarawa Pilot Online Media platform and Peter Jones Ailuorio, publisher of New Sentinel Online News Media Lagos.
The event will also feature an awards ceremony and a dinner/gala nite as part of the highlights of what is expected to be an exciting and epoch making gathering of Nigerian practitioners of online media in Owerri, Imo state.

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