The 2-day inter-ministerial briefing which featured public engagements and enlightenment on government programmes and activities may have come and gone but its widespread impact remains a subject of continuous discourse.
Tagged: Tracking the Promise, the event was held at the ambient Emerald Event Centre, along Four Lanes, Edet Akpan Avenue, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital between Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16, 2023. Its strategic timing, close to the Governorship/House of Assembly elections in the country was not lost on State government watchers.
By the time the event got underway on the opening day, participants were left in no doubt that the organisers: the state Ministry of Information and Strategy had its right foot forward. Commissioners from three Ministries : Works and Fire Service; Agriculture, Labour and Manpower Planning featured while the Commissioners, Ministries of Health, and Economic Development were observers.
By 10 a.m. the guests had arrived at the venue. Some staffers of the ministry armed with registration materials registered invited guests comprising selected members of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Nigeria Medical Association (NBA), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and royal fathers.
Others were members of such socio-cultural groups as the Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Ati Annang, Oro Development Union and the Afiwad Ekid, Ibiono Ibom Welfare Development Union (IWADU), National Youth Council, National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) and Civil Society Organisations, among others.
As the eight-year-old administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel winds up, there arose the need to bring to the table such calibre of personalities to build confidence and address gaps (where any)in the outgoing government.
The tone setting by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong gave the required direction for activities in the well-attended parley.
Cerebral Ememobong welcomed the guests and said the briefing was put up to create a common ground between the media, civil society and professional bodies.
The Commissioner urged the public to forge a partnership that would support greater pathways for good governance, and tasked stakeholders to share ideas and visions that would build on the legacies of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration.
“We have come to share a common ground and interface. This platform offers us as a people to share and seek new ways that would enhance good governance in Akwa Ibom State,” the Commissioner said.
He stated that the event was a measure to clear and refute negative notions on some activities and projects of government.
The Commissioner said the Akwa Ibom State government has opened up flanks for public engagements and clarification on issues by kick-starting the Inter-Ministerial briefing.
Oratorical gifted Ememobong said it became necessary to sensitise the public on the true position of government’s projects, programmes and activities, in order to put paid to some nagging and negative stories being peddled against government by some cynics and unscrupulous members of the public.
The Information helmsman expressed with displeasure that, after seven and half years of governance with numerous achievements in all sectors, some sordid and disparaging news items still cropped up, which negate the true position of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration.
“We have therefore brought every section of the Society together here to find out the reason the stories and reports sent out do not correspond with we have on ground in the State.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel has constructed numerous roads in the State, such as the Uyo-Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road, including the Ikot Oku Ikono flyover, but someone will write that there is no road in Akwa Ibom State,” he pointed out.
The Information boss who welcomed all to the briefing session hinted that, the inter-Ministerial briefing would be carried out in a series, assuring that the programme would be regular to further the assessment of government performance in key sectors in the State.
According to him, Season 1 had three Ministries namely Agriculture, Labour and Manpower Planning as well as Works and Fire Service would feature. Day 2 would also have three Ministries while others will come after the Governorship Poll on Saturday, March 18.
He, therefore, urged the participants drawn from Labour organizations, Professional bodies, Traditional institutions, Religious bodies, Women and Youth groups to openly ask questions for clarification on any sector during the two days confab.
In his well-rendered lecture, Peter Esuh, Dean, Communication and Media studies, University of Uyo, animated the guests with the topic: Governance, Transparency and Responsibility.
He bisected Governance into a nine- plank system: Ethics, Responsibility, Accountability and Equity. Others are: Responsiveness, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Rule of Law and Participation.
Esuh, a professor asserted that Accountability in governance is necessary as it entails the presentation of scorecard by leaders in government while Transparency is an element of good governance which focuses on the sharing of Information that must be Timely, Vibrant, Relevant, Accurate and Complete to the public by government.
The university don noted that Responsibility is very critical in governance as it entails reliability and the practice of rendering service to the people as required including: oversight functions, Strategic planning, decision making, financial report and must always be accompanied with an element of accountability.
He explained that Transparency is the sharing of information, adding that such information must be timely, vibrant, relevant, accurate and complete. “The masses need to know what the government is doing,’’ Esuh intoned.
On Responsibility, the Dean saw it as an element of Government and exemplifies reliability and the practices of rendition of all that we do as a state. Which include oversight function, strategic planning, decision making and financial report which should follow the elements of Accountability.’’
To Esuh, accountability is the process of disseminating accurate information while responsiveness is the risk management situation which forms the governance structure.
“A good government will not allow its citizens to perish. We could recalled the COVID 19 pandemic, Flooding and erosion IBB and it environ our state Governor Mr Udom Emmanuel responded well,’’ he added.
Day One of the Inter-Ministerial Briefing fitting captured by online writers as Season One featured three commissioners: the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Offiong Offor; Commissioner for Labour and Man Power Planning, Elder Aniefiok Nkom and Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga.
Briefing the guests, Ibanga said the government is not relenting especially on the completion of ongoing projects. “Nsit Atai–Oron Road will definitely be completed. We are running on speed and today whatever that had happened on that road, the narrative has changed,” Prof Ibanga assured.
“This government is firm on delivering good roads so it has terminated and re-awarded contracts because of non-performance. We have terminated up to five major contracts because this government wants to meet deadlines. At the speed we are running, these roads will be completed.”
‘‘Besides connecting the rural areas to the urban cities through major roads, the administration has also constructed internal roads in almost all the local government areas and the hinterlands are booming with trade and other economic activities.
Though the Commissioner could not convince the audience on the reason government does not announce figures on projects contracts, he assured that ‘‘the state government is committed to completing all on-going projects before the end of the administration in May.’’
- To be continued