NCI Meeting Holds Much Benefit For Delta —Ukah

WORLD over, relevant pieces of information are considered the most powerful asset which any individual and, by extension, country, can use in surmounting whatever myriad challenges that cross their path. For this obvious reason, individuals and countries who gained access to crucial information at the expense of others have successfully established a lasting hegemony over their counterparts.
With the world continuously undergoing revolution, particularly in the information and communication sector, Nigeria – as a part of the global whole – has expressed its desire to positively embrace the tide and torrent of change that is currently sweeping through the world.
As part of this effort, the country is set to hold a meeting of the National Council on Information (NCI) in Asaba, Delta State, between October 26 and 29. But how ready is the state to host this event of national relevance in the light of the festering economic slump?
In this exclusive interview with the POINTER crew of HENRIETTA OYAKHILOME, PATRICK NWANZE and JOSHUA ERUBAMI, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah gives an extensive insight into how the state emerged as host of the event and the huge benefits which will accrue to it and its information agents, among others.
Excerpts.
How did Delta State get named as the host of the 2016 National Council on Information?
We were approached by the Federal Ministry of Information to host the National Council on Information. Obviously, Delta State is undergoing numerous transformation and we, as a government, have a policy of being friendly to all. Also, as a focused government, we do not propagate discrepancy between political divide, rather we explore every opportunity to tell the world of what we really stand for which is, openness to all.
Why did the state government accept the request from the Federal Ministry of Information to host the event?
Upon our receipt of the hosting request, I positively considered and made a justification of the hosting right to the Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. The main reason is that hosting such an event of national relevance will avail the numerous information officers in the state to, at least, in their life time, have a firsthand experience of a meeting of the National Council on Information. Incontrovertibly, besides, for the members of staff of the various parastatals under the state Ministry of information, that is, The Pointer Newspaper and radio and television arms of the Delta Broadcasting Service in Warri and Asaba, there is a legion of information officers in this state who have not attended this upcoming event before.
Coincidentally, the state Ministry of Information has been brainstorming on how it would provide this kind of exposure for our information officers at the local government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). A good knowledge of efficient economics will reveal that it will be very expensive – in terms of money – if we are to make our officers attend this kind of event and have its beneficial rapport with their colleagues outside the state. So, hosting this event will primarily give us an opportunity to expose our information officers and give them the opportunity to interact with the top shots in the information business in Nigeria.
No doubt, the event will give information officers good working insights into the various mechanisms involved in the formulation and implementation of information policies around the world. If that is done, it will enable them to fall back to their home state and contribute positively to formulation and implementation of information policies in Delta State.
What dividends, do you think, will accrue to the state on account of its hosting of the NCI?
The meeting will help us to practically debunk some of the misconceptions that are being peddled in some quarters about the good magic that Governor Okowa is doing in the state. With this event, we will be able to interact with the outside world and bring people into the state to see for themselves what the state government is doing. Besides, this meeting will also afford us the prospect of consolidating our stand of openness and friendliness to private investments. Taking a critical look at the current trends since the past one year of administration, I am personally happy that we did not celebrate the period by engaging in unjustifiable glitz and glamour; we commemorated the period by interfacing with various communities. We did this by commissioning some projects executed by the current administration.
Having positively addressed the grassroots level, we forged ahead to the central stage with the governor addressing the Lagos Business School and the Nigerian Economic Group where Delta was well showcased as an investment-friendly state. Hosting the NCI, therefore, is an extension of that platform to bring people into the state for them to have a personal feel of what we are doing here.
Does this decision for Delta State to be named host of the event make real sense in the light of the economic recession?
In doing all these, we have embraced a commendable level of prudence, particularly in the light of the economic slump. In organizing this event, we are not looking at government funding which is, of course, very meagre. We have explored other avenues of bringing in some corporate organizations to assist in the funding of the event. That is the way to go in lieu of the lingering economic depression. This event is an opportunity to showcase Delta to the world, showcase it as a friendly state and showcase Delta as a state that is ready for investment.
How prepared, in real terms, is the state to host such a big meeting of national significance?
We set up necessary committees to ensure the smooth take- off and end of the event. At present, the Protocol and Coordination Committee, Venue Arrangement Committee, Transport and Security, Media and Publicity Committee, Entertainment Committee and Secretariat Committee are working in top gear to ensure the success of the event. I am confident that with all the machinery in motion, the state is set to successfully host the National Council on Information meeting.
What is the theme of the NCI meeting and how relevant is it in the light of today’s gloomy economy?
The theme of the event is leveraging on Information and Digital Technology to Sustain the Change Agenda of Government”. No doubt, the world is in a constant flux and dynamism. Everything has assumed a jet speed as a result of digitization. The theme is very apt because everybody in this modern age is striving to go digital. In Delta State, for instance, our television broadcast stations are on Star Times and I am happy that we are receiving heart-warming reports as regards our channel reception. We cannot afford to be complacent though; we will only keep improving on the quality and quantity of our content.
With this current digitization drive, we hope to go both national and international in order to reduce the stress of production. With this theme, our information officers will be exposed to the current trend in the information world and it will enable us to share quality ideas with those who are coming.
In essence the theme is very handy. The SMART Agenda of the current administration also revolves around positive change because, in all honesty, the agenda preaches that we play smart, act smart and do everything smartly.
What will be the star events of the meeting?
The event as laid out in the programme of events will kick off today at the Event Centre, Okpanam Road, Asaba from 12.00 noon with arrival and registration of participants, consideration and adoption of the minutes of the 45th Meeting of NCI.
Tomorrow will feature consideration and adoption of the minutes of the 45th Meeting of NCI, consideration of memoranda.
Friday, October 28 programme will feature the arrival of the Honourable Minister of Information accompanied by the members of the National Assembly and former Ministers of Information, formal opening of the 46th Meeting by the state Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa and consideration of memoranda.
We intend rounding it up with a command performance/gala night, while there will be a guided tour for as many of them who will have the time to go round some of the projects that the state government has executed.
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