The Commissioner for Information, Ogbueshi Patrick Ukah has acknowledged that state’s print media organ, The Pointer, has a lot of problems inhibiting its effective operations, but assured that the problems are also being tackled.
Besides, the commissioner also declared that despite the trainings so far engaged, he is still not satisfied with the performance of the Ministry’s Public relations officers (PROs) and Information officers in their job functions. Although, he acknowledged that some of them are doing well, he pledge his ministry’s continued committed to the effective gathering and dissemination of the policies and programmes of government, to keep Deltans abreast of the implemetation of the campaign promises of Governor Okowa as enunciated in the SMART Agenda.
Ogbueshi Ukah spoke Monday, 18/9/2018 when he briefed the press to mark the end of the first lap of the briefings by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) held at the Ministry of Information Conference Hall, Asaba.
The Commissioner said that the essence of the exercise was to get the media to have a better understanding of the programmes and policies of the government and be in a position to educate the populace on the policy direction of the state government geared towards an enriched socially stable and developing state.
He said that over the past seven months, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the State Government were called on to give account of their stewardship on how well the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had implemented the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Manifestoes since May 29th 2015.
While commenting on the stock taking and account rendering, he said that the briefs given by the MDAs were actually an appraisal of the electioneering campaign promises of the state governor and the conversion of the promises to reality saying that every objective individual who had followed the briefings committedly over the past few months would agree that the administration had fared well.
Ukah stated that media practitioners effective dissemination of information to the public was fundamental to the success of any government saying ‘It is a critical driving force necessary for the achievement of set objectives by virtue of its ability to mobilize and propel people for action and a fact that no policy of government can achieve the intended objective(s) if it is not properly articulated and implemented.”
He stated that Tranditionally, the Ministry of Information was saddled with the role of communicating effectively since the inception of this administration and equally committed towards articulating and adequately publicising the programmes, policies and activities of the state government within the context of the SMART Agenda over the last three years.
The Commissioner said as the official mouth piece and image building organ of the state government, the ministry is officially charged with the responsibility of information dissemination and management, printing of government documents and production and publication services.
He said, “To discharge her responsibilities, the ministry functions with four professional departments and three mandatory administrative departments and also supervises and uses Delta Broadcasting Service Asaba, Delta Broadcasting Service Warri and Delta Printing and Publishing Company Limited, Asaba to effectively discharge its responsibilities.
‘’Through the effort of the ministry and other relevant stakeholders, the policy thrust of the State Government – “the SMART Agenda” – is now a common and well known rhetoric to Deltans and non Deltans alike. The Ministry of Information has rolled out different strategies over the past three years to get the populace to be in tune with the SMART Agenda of the Okowa-led government. The ministry was able to properly articulate all the projects and programmes of the various MDAs with the objective of propelling the people towards a common goal of prosperity for all Deltans.’’
He added that since the assumption of office, ‘’We met an environment that was not conducive for work at the ministry. There was no functional generator, the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) had disconnected the office complex because of outstanding bills, most office equipment and service vehicles were broken down and staff morale was low. It was therefore imperative that the work environment be improved if set objectives are to be attained.
‘’Inspite of the prevailing hash economic situation, the Ministry was able to repair its generator and got re-connected to BEDC dedicated line with the cooperation of the Ministry of Power and Energy.’’
Mr Ukah said that over the last three years, the Ministry fixed several public address enlightenment vans and service vehicles emphasizing, “Most of the Public Enlightenment Officers in the Ministry’s field offices across the 25 local government areas were provided with andriod tablets to facilitate their communication with the Ministry Headquarters.Furthermore, in order to discharge its assigned reponsibilities effectively,the Ministry renovated and equip its conference hall to facilitate meetings and press briefings regularly.”
He stated that as part of efforts to reposition the Government Printing Press for improved service delivery, the Kord 64 Printing Machine which was bad was repaired in 2017 that enabled the press to print the backlog of outstanding bills and gazettes from the Delta State House of Assembly.
According to the information commissioner, the ministry was presently making arrangement to revitalise the Government Printing Press and repair all the essential machines that would position it to perform at full capacity and enable it print the Pointer Newspapers, all government documents and operate commercially.
He said that by the time the plan to revitalise the press is achieved, it would put paid to the idea of establishing a press for Delta Printing and Publishing Company Limited as planned from inception thereby eliminating duplication of duties as against the current trend of printing most official documents in commercial printing press in neighbouring states.
“All MDAs would be required to patronise the Government Printing Press for all printing jobs. The Press would also be in position to print the State’s Yearly Calendar, Christmas Greeting Cards and Diaries which were hitherto carried out through contracts. The Press would be in a position to take up printing of documents from the general public, all MDAs including the State Polytechnics, the State University, Primary and Secondary Schools across the State. The plan is to facilitate the generation of funds by the Press as it would be commercialized.
“The construction of a modern secretariat complex for the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council is already at a high level of completion. His Excellency, the Governor has shown much commitment to the welfare of Journalists in the State. Approval has been given for the variation in the cost of construction and the funds have been released to the union to continue the project. His Excellency, the Governor in furtherance of his commitment to the welfare of journalists has also step into the land dispute that resulted in a court injunction and the dispute would soon be resolved” the commissioner stated.
Speaking on the National Council on Information, which he said represents the apex body, charged with the responsibility for the formation of publicity strategies and public communication policies for the country, Mr Ukah said that the Delta State Government successfully hosted the 46th meeting of the National Council on Information in Asaba, the state capital.
The Ministry, he noted, also coordinated the creation of a new brand identity for the state to herald a new Delta at 25-years and beyond. The new brand identity was designed to clearly define our beliefs, values and interests. Its target objective is to influence the perception of Deltans on how they see and understand themselves, their beliefs, needs, motives, interests and learning as a unique set of people.
“A holistic package of the State Brand Identity consist of the Seal of the State, the Crest of His Excellency, the Governor, the Crest of His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, the State Flag and the State Anthem (rebirth). Since the unveiling of the brand, it has to a great extent influenced the perception of Deltans on how they see and understand themselves, their beliefs, needs, and interests as a unique set of people.As a result of the re-branding of the state, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, won the ADVAN Award courtesy of the Advertising Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) for its brand building” he said.
On Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri and Asaba, he said “ On the assumption of office, it was discovered that the Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and Warri were bedeviled with so many challenges despite efforts made by the previous administrations to provide broadcasting equipment for both television and radio arms. A meeting of the relevant stakeholders was convened by the Ministry which led to the constitution of a team to assess the challenges faced by the stations. The findings of the team guide the Ministry to strategised its plan to resolve the identified challenges in short, medium and long terms.
“So far, all the identified short term challenges have been resolved. These included getting, the contracting firm, COMFAX to open and handover the three-camera studio at the Warri Station that was locked up for so long, getting COMFAX to replace parts of the digital radio equipment affected by lightening in Warri Station, carrying out an audit of the contract to ascertain liabilities to the contractor and consultant with the intention to determine contract, resolving the problem caused by the bad antenna at Asaba and installing a new earthling systems to replace the non-functional ones in Warri, Asaba and Ubulu-Uku where non-existed.
“The Ministry was in the process of resolving the challenges classified as medium term when the flood disaster of Saturday 22nd July 2017 occurred and submerged the entire premises of Asaba Station including the offices, the digital and production studios and the transmission halls of the radio and television arms of the Service. The equipment and gadgets lost to the flood setback the effort of the government to put the station at the peak of broadcasting. The ministry had to take some urgent measures which His Excellency graciously approved to get the station back on air. Some of the equipment damaged by the flood including one of the transmitters of the radio arm has been repaired. Other crucial equipment that needs urgent attention and which are being plan for presently includes the UPS in Warri, Asaba and Ubulu-Uku, Radio Transmitter B in DBS Asaba and TV Transmitter A at Ubulu-Uku.
“Having restored the station back on air, the ministry proceeded to start resolving the challenges classified as medium term. Some of the medium term challenges already resolved include the replacement of the bad UHF-TV antenna which have been successfully installed and is being used to beam signals on the terrestrial in Asaba and its environs as well as to Ubulu-Uku for onward transmission to the entire state and beyond, a surge protector which was damaged beyond repairs has been replaced, the two existing Larcan Magnum Transmitters (5Kw) of the TV arm of the Asaba Station has been repaired, the character generating machine has been repaired, the Industrial AVR of the television arm has been repaired, a new feeder line that was at Ubulu-Uku which was not in use was brought to Asaba and installed to replace the bad one in Asaba, and the mast which had become dangerous for lack of maintenance was renovated and tensioned.The ministry also repaired and replaced some of the faulty digital studio lighting equipment at Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba.”
The commissioner hinted that the ministry was presently in the process of upgrading the locally constructed television transmitter which is in use at DBS Warri from 1Kw to 5Kw to enable the signals which are only received in some parts of Warri to get to Ughelli, Sapele, Ozoro and beyond.
“Though the digital switch over program is on, it may take another one to three years to completely get the populace to key in and for the National Broadcasting Commission to shut down transmission on the Ultra High Frequency (UHF)”, he said, adding,.”It is important to note here that majority of Deltans still depend on signals from the Ultra High Frequency (UHF). The ministry therefore wants to keep up broadcasting on the terrestrial to ensure that government activities are effectively communicated to Deltans.”
He also revealed that a 33KVA lines has been provided at Asaba and Ubulu-Uku to resolved the issue of power supply which has rendered the station ineffective for a long time.
On the third phase activities planned as long term measures to reposition the station, Mr Ukah said that the ministry targets the accomplishment of full digitalization as earlier earmarked before the flood. The ministry has entered into an agreement with Pinnacle Communications limited, the signal distributor assigned by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to handle the Digital Switch On (DSO) in Delta State.