One would have wished away the vile propaganda of Saharareporters that the amiable Governor of Bayelsa State overstays in Abuja and stays only sparingly in Yenagoa as the height of irresponsible journalism. It is equally absurd and ludicrous for anyone to insinuate that Governor Dickson who spends more than 90% of his time traversing the length and breadth of Bayelsa State inspecting projects spends so much time outside the State.
Three issues are clear, all Governors including Governor Dickson belong to political parties and when there are pressing party matters, they are called upon to attend meetings in Abuja. Besides, Governor Dickson is desirous of wooing investors to the State. It is understandable why he occasionally travels to Abuja for such high profile investment roundtables. Generally, he is called CONTRIMAN GOVERNOR because he stays in Yenagoa to oversee the projects by himself. There is no week when the Contriman Governor does not inpect projects in the State.
Naturally, President Jonathan is from Bayelsa State and a kinsman and brother of Governor Dickson. It has therefore become fashionable on the part of a section of the press especially the online media to engage in scapegoatism to interpret the political travails of Governor Rotimi Amaechi as being caused by some malevolent spirits.
Since Governor Dickson assumed office, he has run an all-inclusive-administration. This is evidenced by the appointments he has made which cut across party lines, sectional divides. Look at his cabinet and you will see people who were hitherto on the opposition. Most of the Boards and parastatals he established are made up of academics and even Ijaws in diaspora are not left out.
Again, saharareporters lied for accusing the Governor of clamping down on free speech by sending a bill to criminalize “rumour mongering” The Governor established a PUBLIC INFORMATION MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE with professionals selected from the NUJ, RATTAWU, BIPA, NANS and other people who are adept in the pen profession. The mandate of the Committee is clear. It is even a blatant lie that saharareporters tried but could not reach the Secretary of the Committee John Idumange on the well-publicized hotlines. For the avoidance of doubt, the hotlines are open 24 hours. Apart from the hotlines, you can reach the secretary through his personal line: 07039103572.
For emphasis, the mandate of the committee includes the following:
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 reengineer the entire concept of governance.
A journalist worth his salt is expected to serve the public by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time. In doing this, a Journalist must at all times strive to ensure that information disseminated is honestly, accurately and fairly conveyed. This can be achieved through Verification of facts, objectivity and balanced reporting. Certainly saharareporters has fallen below the acceptable level of journalistic practice. It is now time to separate the wheat from the chaff. What saharareporters engages in is the flipside of what robust journalism should be.
BAYELSA PUBLIC INFORMATION MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE