Yesterday Wednesday 17th April, 2013, the Bayelsa Public Information Management Committee held its first stakeholders’ meeting with NGOs, CBOs and other prominent civil Society Organizations in the State. The interactive session, which was held at the IJAW HOUSE, Yenagoa witnessed the attendance of about 35 different CSOs.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee High Chief Boma Spero-Jack thanks all participants in spite of the short notice given them. He stressed that the Committee was inaugurated by His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson Governor of Bayelsa State, to fulfill a mandate. Thus the Terms of Reference of the Committee include, but not limited to:
1. To oversee the management of public information dissemination in Bayelsa State, through the articulation of appropriate policies and strategies and to work in synergy with all relevant agencies such as NOA, National Orientation Agency, such as NBA, NMA, NLC, NUJ, professional bodies, Women and Youth Groups and other non-state actors.
2. To embark on sensitization of the citizens with a view to effecting attitudinal change in the youths through public enlightenment programmes on radio, television and town hall meetings among other community development training programmes.
3. To bridge the information gap between government and the people in order to reduce the spread of rumours, misinformation and propaganda disseminated by the mischief makers to distract the attention of government.
4. To evolve educational and behavior modification programmes designed to inculcate discipline positive work ethics and change among public servants, youths, women groups with a view to promoting the policies and programmes of the Restoration Government.
5. To re-enforce existing channels of communication to ensure that public information is brought to the people accurately and in a timely manner.
6. To liaise with all agencies charged with information dissemination and to serve as a clearing house among all agencies of government to enhance information flow in the system and any other matters related thereto.
It was for this reason that the Committee seeks the partnership and active collaboration of all stakeholders, professional bodies, civil society Organizations and CBOs, adding that every segment of society is important. The operations of the Committee are guided by openness, objectivity, truth and fairness. The Committee according to the Chairman will embark on enlightenment campaigns and adopt a bottom-up approach in information management. The Committee will also establish information centres in all the Local Government Headquarters and train champions in information management. In addition, the Committee will organize town hall meetings and other focused group discussions to ensure a healthy exchange of information, clear ambiguities and ensure a two-way flow of information between government and the people, adding that the Restoration Administration has reconfigured the architecture of delivering value and the entire concept of governance.
The Chairman of the the State Chapter of the Civil Liberties Organization and Chairman of BANGOF Chief Nengi James Eriworio advocated the removal of the RUMOUR BILLBOARDS and concentrate on information management to ensure the smooth running of government. He praised the Dickson Administration for the strides taken so far in terms of infrastructural development but discourages the airing of some jingles, which are misleading. He commended the administration for setting up the Committee as a clearing House but decried the nonchalant attitude of some government officials who do not answer even phone calls let alone entertain their complaints.
Other NGOs representatives reeled out complaints and made suggestions as follows:
1. That Government officials should make themselves available to the people
2. That project monitoring should be reinforced
3. That there should be periodic town hall meetings
4. That government should formulate programmes via the mass media to change the attitude of youths
5. That the monthly transparency briefing by government should be reinforced.
6. That the followership should be educated to understand the thrust of government via the mass media and phone-in programmes, among others.
The amalgam of Civil Society made an irrevocable commitment to support the policies and programmes of the Restoration Government to deliver quality of life services to the people. The session ended with a pledge for the Committee and stakeholders to partner, collaborate and work together.