The Rivers State Government has finally placed orders for the procurement of N350million state-of-the-art Goss Rotary Machine for the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, the publishers of the Port Harcourt-based The Tide Group of Newspapers.
The contract for the supply of the machine was awarded to Image and Media Associates Ltd, a Port Harcourt-based firm which won the bid for the supply of the machine.
Disclosing this in Port Harcourt, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, Mrs Jokotade Adamu, said the move was in line with the Governor Chibuike Amaechi-led administration’s commitment to revitalise the state-owned media organisations.
She stated that the contractor handling the supply and installation of the machine has already been mobilised by government, saying that before the end of the year, the Rotary machine would be delivered.
The permanent secretary emphasised that with the new Rotary machine, the newspaper would not only begin to come out early, but would also increase its circulation, as the machine has the capacity to print over 30,000 copies per hour.
According to her, apart from improving its editorial content and quality, the newspaper would also begin to circulate in very hard-to-reach communities, while at the same time, reclaiming its lost glory as the authoritative voice of the Niger Delta and the strongest government-owned newspaper in the country.
She regretted that in the past, The Tide was read in all the nooks and crannies of the state and across the country, and promised that with the coming on stream of the new Rotary machine, The Tide would reclaim its lost glory as the leading newspaper in the Niger Delta and the most vibrant government-owned newspaper in Nigeria.
Speaking on the recent fire outbreak in the corporation, Adamu stated that the government has awarded contract for the complete renovation and rehabilitation of the corporation’s buildings to make the environment conducive for staff.
According to her, the contracting company, PIRAMIDX Global Structures Limited, has already mobilised to site, and would complete the renovation within two months.
While commending the state government for investing in efforts to revitalise The Tide, a former staff of the newspaper and publisher of News Africa, a United Kingdom-based newsmagazine, Mr Moffat Ekoriko, said the investment shows that Governor Chibuike Amaechi realises the fact that newspaper business is not just only capital intensive but also socially-driven.
According to him, “the media business is beyond profit. It is about professional excellence. It is about being able to give voice to our people. It is a social service, which cost is immeasurable. Therefore, no investment in the business is too much for any government.”
He said that in the past, governments, especially in the Niger Delta took the state media for granted, and refused to fund them after journalists working there had helped them launder their images, thereby aiding their victory at elections, and noted that the weak state media infrastructure in the region was as a result of that legacy.
Ekoriko, who is also the publisher of a Lagos-based national daily newspaper, The MOMENT, expressed delight that some of the state governments in the region were beginning to realise the futility in ignoring the government-owned media institutions they inherited, and were now investing huge chunk of money to revive them.
The publisher lauded Amaechi for approving and releasing funds for the procurement of a new Rotary Machine for and renovation of The Tide newspaper chain, saying that the investment would pay off with the paper reasserting its authority as the dominant force in the region and strong advocate for Rivers people.
He expressed optimism that the restoration of the newspaper’s dominant status in the region would enable the paper compete more favourably with others across the nation, stressing that his chain of media outfits was ready to partner The Tide in training and practical work experience exchange locally and in the UK, printing of The MOMENT for the Eastern edition by The Tide, editorial content exchange, among others.
Reacting, the General Manager, RSNC, Celestine Ogolo thanked the state government for responding quickly to restore the lost glory of the corporation, and assured that the newspaper chain would continued to do everything to live up to the expectations of both the government and people of Rivers people.
The Site Engineer, PIRAMIDX Global Structures Limited, Felix Jack said that the contract covers total renovation, reroofing, office partitioning, rewiring of the electrical connections, landscaping and greening services, among others, and assured that the renovation work would be completed in two months.
In his remarks, chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, Mr Opaka Dokubo lauded the bold initiatives by the state government, and added that with the new printing machine and a facelift to the buildings, he was sure that the newspaper would justify the investment by meeting the aspirations of government and people of the state.