We Place Premium On Journalists' Welfare, Says Ukah

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba

Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, on Monday said the state government places high premium on the welfare of journalists working in the state, noting that the current administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa would not relent in rewarding newsmen as they professionally discharged their duties.

Ukah, who spoke at the formal opening ceremony of the secretariat of the Indigenous Newspapers/Magazines Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council 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 every one of us and because you service every one 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”.

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 (CPS), to the governor, Mr. Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, 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.

Also, the National Vice President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zone ‘F’, Comrade Akpati Ogude, advised journalists to focus on developmental issues by reporting government programmes and policies in good light and in overall benefit of Deltans.

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.

Earlier, Chairman of the Indigenous Newspaper/Magazine Chapel, Comrade Spence Friday Idighri, said the day would remain dear in the hearts of all qualified and professional journalists who write for local print media platforms published in the state.

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