By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, has assured Nigerians that the country would soon witness the better days they were hoping and praying for as the Federal Government was making good progress in many areas.
Mohammed gave the assurance on Friday while feeding questions from newsmen at the 46th National Council on Information (NCI) meeting in holding Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The minister said that despite the recession in the country progress was being made in different sectors, explaining the reasons why the Nigerian economy went into recession.
According to Mohammed, the major problem had remained the disruption of oil and gas production in the Niger Delta, but he quickly added that that real progress to resolve the problem as being made by the government.
“Definitely we are making progress. In life you either make progress or move backwards. The fact that we are managing the economy despite the challenges, we are making progress.
“I think that what is also crucial is that the quantity of crude we used to produce went down because of the restiveness in the Niger Delta.
Therefore, it is another area we need peace; and, I am assuring you that in a few days time, we are going to see progress in this regard.
Speaking on measures being taken the government to lessen the possible hardship to Nigerians during the coming Yuletide, the minister said, “One of the major steps we are taking in this administration to ensure that the economy improves is the improved economy that makes sure that food is available for all Nigerians; and, that is about employment and job creation, that is about the ease of doing business.
“Every day the government is recording success. Only recently, both the IMF and World Bank released a quite encouraging report that the measure Government is taking is definitely leading to a lot of progress. I can assure that before Christmas we will be able to resolve a lot of the challenges that we have especially in the Niger Delta area. And, once the production improves, there will be more money in the system.
“There was the seven big wins that was launched by the president in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which are the steps Nigeria is taking to ensure that even we are diversifying the economy; oil and gas still remain a major pillar of our economy and these tongs we are doing to revive it.
“I want onto assure Nigerians, on behalf of the Federal Government that we are working day and night to ensure that we the hardship of Nigerians is reduced.”
Mohammed attributed the recent release of 21 Chibok schoolgirls to the success of the process of “confidence building steps that will pave way for the release of more girls”, adding that “very sensitive talks” were currently on in that direction.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who declared the meeting formally opened, challenged information mongers in the country to go beyond mere dissemination of information to embracing more functional and development-oriented communication.
Okowa said, “As information managers, your first responsibility is to ensure that information fed to the public complete, accurate, relevant and understandable. You must become more scientific in your approach and go beyond the realm of information dissemination, to embrace the strategic function of communication.
“I believe the (respective ministries of information should serve as sensors of stakeholder and public opinion on, and about, the policies, programmes and performance of the government through periodic performance audits.
“The intelligence gathered is very useful in ascertaining the impact and acceptability of government policies and programmes as well as gauge the public mood and their perception of the government or governor.”
The governors noted that communication involved speaking and listening, saying “it priorities research and action before speaking, and demands constant evaluation of our information management strategies.”
The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, noted digital technology had eased the business of information management through enhancement of speed and accuracy, urging the council to fashion out ways to leverage on contemporary digital information technology towards the promotion of the change agenda of the government.
The major challenge in information dissemination in the digital world relates to tailoring content for various online platforms, user segmentation and connectivity devices rather than the quality of the content.
He said that Delta State remained relatively peaceful, has vast resources for viable exploitation by investors as well as an administration focused on a progressive development blueprint called the SMART Agenda.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Norbert Chiazor, who spoke on behalf of the national president, Mr. Waheed Odusile, lamented that fact that quacks rather than professional journalists were dictating the pace of the social media in Nigeria and thereby making nonsense of the ethics of the media profession.
Chiazor urged the various information managers and authorities of government to take charge of information management and communication by taking over space in the social media in order to “tell their own stories” and minimize the abuse to which social media has been subjected in recent time by the said quacks and all-comers.