Aniagwu hints of plans to sensitize public, journalists on govt operations

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Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Information Commissioner, Delta State.

By Augustine Akanigha

Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu has stressed the need for more sensitization of members of the public in the way they think about the operation and operationality of government as regards budget generation and spending.

The commissioner spoke while addressing journalists shortly after defending his ministry’s 2021 budget proposal before members of the House Committee on Information and Communication in the State House of Assembly Complex, Asaba, the state capital.

He Said: “There is urgent need to sensitize Deltans in a number of areas, because in all honesty, there are lots of ignorance about the operation and operationality of government.

“For instance, when they said the budget is N320 billion, an Individual wakes up and say, look they have squandered N320 billion, meanwhile the N320 billion is not in anybody’s pocket and it is just an intention that you are hoping that at the end of the year, you would have been able to generate the funds and used it to address a good number of issues affecting the state.

“Out of the assumed N320 billion, and even if it was realized, more than 50 per cent will be spent on the recurrent part of the budget which includes e-payment of salaries, over head running of government, and if 50 per cent was taking from the budget, you will be left with N169billion. If you are now talking about, they have squandered, will you now say that the man has squandered N320 billion, when you know government is running in the course of the year, and beyond that, there are also a good number of projects that the government has executed in the course of the same year.

“It is unfortunate when some members of the media want to be critical, they take the entire budget as if the budget means cash at hand and then, they take government to the cleaners that they are not accountable, forgetting that your brothers and sisters, even when you are not working in government, and one way or the other you are related to those who are working in government, including yours sincerely who is also your friend that are on monthly basis get paid by government and there are also funds released for projects that are very visible for the entire development of the state; how then do you now judge government on the basis of what was budgeted and not on what was realized and possibly released?

He disclosed that in the course of the year, the Ministry of Information would do a lot of sensitization on the need for the media to realize the objective of reporting, adding that consideration would be given to training and retraining of journalists on developmental principles.

In his words, “Some people ask questions because they want to make headlines; the question is that, how much improvement and development headlines has added to the society? If you are putting a headline that is exposing corruption genuinely, I mean that is indeed corruption, good and fine, you don’t go and begin to shout in your headlines, just because you want to throw spanners in the wheel of progress.”

The Information Commissioner reiterated that his ministry had the potentials and capability to get and reach everybody in Delta and beyond, to inform, not only about the activities of government, but to take information from the public and bring it back to government.

“Because the era of the Hypodemic Media Theory is gone. This time is more like you give me and I give you, and you are able to bring to the government what the people are saying about government and take to the people what the government is saying, and the 2021 budget of the Ministry is captured in this regard,” he stated.

Aniagwu commended the chairman and members of the committee, saying: “Since I came on board as the Honourable Commissioner for Information in the state, this committee lead by the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Tim Owhefere, has given us very robust advice, and the committee has demonstrated a good understanding of the issues and cooperated in the very modest achievement we have recorded in the course of time. They have also made our job much easier and ahead of the 2021 budgeting year.”

He added that the ministry would continue to sustain the relationship along that line and thanked the leadership of the house for giving his ministry what he referred to as ‘a wonderful chairman and members of the committee’.

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