WE PLACE PREMIUM ON JOURNALISTS’ WELFARE, SAYS UKAH. *Commissions Indigenous Newspapers/Magazines Chapel Secretariat

Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, on Monday (06/03/2017) said the state government places a high premium on the welfare of journalists working in the state, noting that the current administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will not relent in rewarding newsmen so long as they continue to discharge their duties professionally.

Ukah, who spoke at the formal opening ceremony of the secretariat of the Indigenous Newspapers/Magazines Chapel of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of journalists (NUJ) in Asaba, said the press system in Delta State has been “so wonderful” particularly in its interpretation of government policies, programmes and actions in the wake of the nationwide economic downturn that has negatively impacted the activities of governments in the country.

The Commissioner, who expressed gratitude to journalists in the state for showing much patriotism and understanding for the state government, observed that the Okowa’s administration is striving to ensure an appreciable improvement in the welfare of newsmen, adding that the state government “is ready to do more if we have the desired resources. Journalists in this state service everyone of us and because you service everyone of us, we service you too by ensuring that your welfare is improved”, he told the media men who responded with applauds.

He admitted that journalists have the constitutional right to write whatever they feel without undue censorship and “gag” from the state government, but pointed out that “whenever you write about the policies and programmes of government, please always give us the chance of fair hearing”.

Mr. Ukah added that Okowa is assiduously fulfilling the promises inherent in his SMART Agenda which promises prosperity for all Deltans, disclosing that plans are in the offing to syndicate “journalists to the various sectors where this administration has performed creditably so that you will have a personal feel of our achievements and report on them as you will see them”.

Speaking further Ukah said: “We are beginning to narrow down the programmes of the Okowa government to ward by ward in the implementation of the administration’s programmes.”

The Provost of Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Dr. Ignatius Ezoem, who was the chairman of the event, called on journalists to embrace professionalism and avoid the practice of “white journalism” which favours blackmail at the expense of public service and interest.

Similarly, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Charles Aniagu, commended the Indigenous Newspapers/Magazines Chapel for enduring “a little discomfort just to get a more comfortable base”, assuring that the state government is ready to give listening ears whenever the need arises.

Mr. Aniagwu commended members of the INMC of NUJ for the decision to have an office and in particular to recognize Governor Okowa and name the Conference Hall of the Chapel after him as Senator (DR.) Ifeanyi Okowa Conference Hall, urging other Chapels to emulate the progressive efforts of the INMC in the judicious appropriation of funds given to them, especially in this period of recession and harsh economic realities.

The National Vice President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone ‘F’, Comrade Ogude on his part, reassured the government that journalists will continue to partner with it to ensure that the programmes of government are given adequate reportage. He urged journalists to put the state first by helping to develop the state in their reportage, even as he advised them to focus on developmental issues by reporting government programmes and policies in good light and in overall benefit of Deltans.

On the on-going NUJ elections, Ogude assured that those qualified to run for the various offices of the NUJ elections will run.

The NUJ Chairman in the state, Comrade Norbert Chiazor, also applauded the chapel for blazing the trail of having comfortable office where its leadership could converge to discuss and brainstorm on issues that affect the body, adding that the union will soon commission its secretariat that is currently under construction.

Comrade Chiazor however cautioned that the false, negative and stereotyped image being held by some people about journalists is not a true reflection of the vibrant image of the trained journalist.

He urged journalists to do more of development journalism and that now is the time to be in the centre stage of development in the country. “As we celebrate people, we don’t celebrate ourselves. Let us therefore, do ceremonies that will bring together others to see what contributions we are making in society”, he urged.

Earlier, Chairman of the Indigenous Newspaper/Magazine Chapel, Comrade

Spence Idighri, said the day will remain dear in the hearts of all qualified and professional journalists who write for local print media platforms published in the state.

The Delta State Commissioner of Police represented by his force PPRO, Mr. Andrew Aniemeka expressed gratitude to journalists for partnering with the Command and for being fair in their reportage.

Mr. Ochor Ochor’s representative thanked the chapel for getting an office with identifiable membership as opposed to the faceless social media operators whose identities are not known, lamenting that the social media has almost taken over the role of the journalists.

Also speaking in the same vein, the representative of Hon. Reuben Izeze said knowledge of the Indigenous Newspaper Magazine Correspondents Chapel is a welcome relief to the menace of the social media.

The lecture of the day, titled “Grassroots Journalism, a tool for Development”, was delivered by Mr. Assay Benjamin, a principal lecturer in the Department of mass communication, Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, while a sub Lecture was delivered by Barrister Bridget Anyafulu, senior special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Child rights advocacy.

The major highlight of the event was the unveiling of the “Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa Conference Hall” and a guided tour of the new secretariat.

The event which was part of activities marking the official commissioning of the office of the INMC of the NUJ at No. 3, Onoshe Street, off Nnebisi Road, Asaba, was attended by a cream of media friendly personalities that included the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, the Chief press secretary to the Covernor, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, Vice President of the NUJ, Zone F, South-South, Comrade Edward Akpati Ogude, Delta NUJ state Chairman, Mr. Norbert Chiazor, Mr. Itagher Ogheneruona who represented Hon. Ochor Chris Ochor, a Commissioner at the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), the Commissioner of Police, represented by the State Command’s public Relations officer, Barrister Bridget Anyafulu, senior special Assistant to Governor Okowa on Child rights advocacy, as well as a representative of Hon. Reuben Izeze of the Delta state House of Assembly.

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