Staff of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications and other parastatals under the ministry’s jurisdiction were recently roused to a new prospect of development and glimmer of hope in the discharge of their statutory duties.
This followed assurances by the Hon Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barr Emma Okah to put in place the right incentives and structures to boost performance and productivity on the part of staff.
Addressing staff of the ministry at a formal meeting in his office on his assumption of office, the Commissioner recognised the bulk of responsibilities on the part of the ministry in articulating the development objectives and programmes of the Rivers State Government.
He said the enormous mandate requires that the ministry be put on a good prospect of development to achieve set objectives. To meet up its statutory function, the commissioner identified the need for a total overhaul of the operational apparatus of the ministry in capacity development.
Explaining the new policy trust of the ministry, the commissioner pointed out that staff of the ministry would be fully mobilized through regular training and performance appraisal to enhance their professional service delivery and general productivity. “The era of laxity to duty is over, the Ministry of Information and Communications is in for serious business and it requires the commitment of everybody to achieve the chore objectives of the Ministry”, he stated.
The commissioner assured that staff welfare would be given priority attention, as no staff would be denied his or her entitlements, adding that “hardworking staff would be rewarded while disciplinary measures would be applied against recalcitrant staff”.
Cognizance of the important role of the ministry, particularly at a time when the Rivers State Government has to contend with a belligerent opposition, the commissioner said the Ministry under his watch would manage an information and communication system that will defend the State against the political propaganda of the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State.
He said the opposition, rather than engage in the competitive spirit and value of constructive criticisms, always ring the bell of anarchy in the state. According to the commissioner, such political phenomenon was “endemic to democracy and capable of degrading public order”.
He stated that the government was, however, resolute and poised to handle evolving situations in the State with resilience and a sense of maturity to “tame the subversive role of the opposition by constantly showcasing the elements of stability in the control of the state machinery”.
He disclosed that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has paid a huge price in the protection of democracy in Nigeria by defending the ideas of liberty and showing commitment to good governance in the State.
Okah averred that “Governor Wike’s development strides in Rivers State and his prudent management of the meagre resources in the state were eloquent testimonies of his pragmatic approach to governance which had earned him prestigious laurels locally and internationally and made Rivers State outstanding in the comity of Nigeria states”.
He faulted claims by the opposition that the governor bought his numerous awards and described such claims as part of the campaign of calumny and deliberate plot of the enemies of the state to throw away the baby and the bathwater.
“The Wike administration has made tremendous impact in providing quality leadership in Rivers State through his outstanding development projects. The government is not deterred by the onslaught of the opposition, but poised to stamp the feet of the state on the global scene and place the State on its right pedestal as the economic hub of the nation”.
To consolidate the gains of the Wike administration in Rivers State, Okah called for inter-agency synergy and the leverage of other critical stakeholders to protect the State from the “claws of authoritarianism”.
Also of deep concern to the commissioner is the security situation in the state. He called for a participatory role on the part of every indigene and others domiciled in the State, towards the enthronement of sustainable peace and security in the State.
He accused the opposition of plot to destablise the peace in the State through the machineries of state terrorism advanced by the APC, using the Federal Anti Robbery Squad (F-SARS), as willing ally to implement their perfidious intents against the government and people of Rivers State. The commissioner pointed out that the complicity of F-SARS in the anti -peace force against the State, was not in doubt as several complaints by the governor over the excesses of F-SARs in the State had not received deserving attention from the Federal Government.
He said the Ministry of Information and Communications would embark on mass based sensitization to inform Rivers people on the need to remain vigilant against the infiltrations of the opposition.
On the transformation of the state media houses, the commissioner assured the preparedness of the state government towards the digitalization of the broadcast industry in the State in line with Federal Government’s switch-over policy.
He urged the State owned media houses to always serve the interest of Rivers State through their programmes and editorial contents.
He particularly charged the electronic media to carry out social functions such as traffic update and other neighbourhood awareness campaigns to keep good check on security situations.
The meeting of the commissioner with the ministry staff was equally a home coming for him as he was greeted with warmth and courtesy by the staff.
Having served as a commissioner in the Ministry in the shortlived administration of Governor Celestine Omehia, Emma Okah exuded an amiable sense of familiarity with the staff and received strong commendation from them.
Some staff of the ministry who spoke at the meeting raised issues bordering on promotion, training and provision of other basic incentives to enhance productivity. They appealed to the commissioner to keep to his promises, while assuring to live up to the institutional and statutory obligations.
The newly appointed Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim accompanied the commissioner to the meeting. Addressing the staff, Nsirim said vistas of opportunities in professional development and effective service delivery awaited staff of the ministry in this dispensation.
The Permanent Secretary described the Ministry of Information and Communications as an “omnibus ministry” saddled with great responsibilities, and urged the staff to change their attitude to duty and key into the new prospect of development to make desired impact in serving the information need of the State.
Nsirim whose appointment as a Permanent Secretary and subsequent redeployment to the Ministry of Information was greatly applauded by stakeholders, envisioned a bright and promising era of journalistic practice for the staff.
The veteran journalist and former Director of Public Enlightenment in the Ministry also promised to bring to bear his wealth of experience to the service of the ministry and the State.
He described the commissioner as “a man of charisma with the requisite professional experience and passion to add value and drive excellence in the ministry”.
The Permanent Secretary charged the staff to imbibe the tenet of creativity in the discharge of their duties, noting that such internal mechanisms would “boost team spirit and enhance productivity on the part of workers”.
He also reaffirmed the need for the ministry to carry out trainings and capacity building of staff for efficient service delivery and warned against poor ethical conducts.
Okah is not a green horn in information management of the State, having served at the centre stage of managing official information in the state, from his days as Chief Press Secretary to Governor Peter Odili, and later Commissioner for Information under Governor Celestine Omehia.
Many pundits believe that his recent redeployment to the Information and Communications Ministry after serving in the same capacity in the Ministry of Housing was as a result of his past records.
Given the prime objective of the Ministry of Information and Communications in the service of the State, the commissioner is, therefore, expected to navigate the ministry with an exquisite sense of direction, drawing from his decades of professional experience and the support of the staff and key stakeholders in the information and communication sector.
With the assurances of institutional breakthrough in the ministry by the commissioner, staff of the ministry are also expected to count on the new platform to improve their professional service delivery.