If the state government decides to seat and allow blackmailers to have a field day, then the result might not be good for the state.I am a man of peace.I have met the the SSG and adviced him. I am saying this because I have not seen the result of that advice.”Patron of the South South zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and former Governor of oil and gas wealthy Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan has cleared the air on the widely reported N700 billion debt profile he was alleged to have left for his successor to inherit, saying the claims were false.Although the former governor did not specify the actual amount he left behind in the government covers, he revealed that: “Somehow the N700 billion has been coming down because at a time, the Ministry of Finance said it was N355 billion and at another time they gave another fighure of a little above N200 billion. It is still coming down”, he enthused.Speaking further in Pidgin English, he said: “E never reach where I leave am. E go soon reach where I leave am but e never reach. If you people bother to read my handover notes, una go know where I leave am’.
The immediate past Governor, who was Chairman at the 2017 Delta NUJ Media Week and PUBLIC LECTURE titled “GOOD GOVERNANCE, JOURNALISTS AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA” on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at the Labour House in Asaba, told dignitaries and participants that: “Even when the state government has tried to correct it, people still refer to that initial figure of N700 billion till today.”Emmanuel Uduaghan noted that negative news stories are overwhelming decent news stories on the social media because the social media is accessible to everyone and gives them the opportunity to air their views positively or negatively.First, it provides a forum for everybody to air anything in your mind. The good, the bad and the ugly. But the result of that is that the ugly seems to be overtaking the good and the bad”.So we have a lot more ugly post in the social media than posts that are acceptable.
It has the advantage of being fast but that speed also sometimes can be disappointing because once a wrong information goes into the social media, it is very difficult to retrieve it. Even when you are able to retrieve or correct it, sometimes not more than 10 percent of the people who read the first wrong mesage will agree with the second message. 90 percent of the people will still be going forward with the wrong message.”According to Uduaghan, “I am sure all of you know that by the time I left, Governor Okowa went to the House of Assembly to make a presentation and of course the next headline was that “Governor Uduaghan has left N700 billion debt in Delta state”, and that story is still trending till date. I requested for the governor’s speech to see if he said that but there was no where in that speech where the governor mentioned it. But somehow, either his media aides or some people just made it up. I had an option to counter the information outrightly but I decided to be quiet about it. There were so many ramifications, the governor was just coming in, that was his first outing, then I counter his first outing, it has its own challenges but I decided to be quiet about it.”
Particularly worried about the preponderant activities of blackmailers who write unsubstantiated petitions against individuals in Delta state, the former governor who claimed to have been a victim, however urged the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration to nip it in the bud to avert security breach in the state.“Blackmailing has now become a big profession, especially in Delta state. People are now eating with it, building houses with it and buying cars with it. And everybody is becoming a victim of blackmail. It is very unfortunate.“Let me appeal to the state government that sometimes, the activities of blackmailers can lead to very serious security problems and challenges. I am saying this with all responsibility and if the state government decides to seat and allow blackmailers to have a field day, then the result might not be good for the state.“I am a man of peace. I managed this state for eight years and I ensured that there was peace in Delta state and I will not be party to anything that will bring insecurity to Delta state. And if I perceive that my action might bring insecurity to Delta state, I will also advice the government. I have met the the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and adviced him. I am saying this because I have not seen the result of that advice.”
In an apparent response to erstwhile Governor Uduaghan’s claims and in defence of the state government, the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, said the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led administration has zero tolerance for blackmail and would never encourage the menace.“We don’t encourage blackmail as a government because if you encourage them, they will turn around to blackmail you tomorrow.“The menace in the social media is being felt by everybody in the state because non professional are allowed to take over the media space”, Ukah added.Speaking before the arrival of Governor Okowa, his deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro, had in an address, observed that, “At the moment, the social media is very much like leaving an automatic rifle in the hands of a five-year old with all the danger that it portends not only to the child but to his immediate family and the society at large,” Barr. Otuaro said.The governor, who came directly to the occasion at 01:30 pm on his arrival from an official engagement in Abuja, noted that it was important for government to cooperate with the media to move the country forward, pledging “We will continue to do the best we can to support the press” but affirmed that “There are good journalists and there are those who want to misinform Nigerians.”Delivering a lecture on the topic, “Journalists, Social Media and Good Governance,” former Governor of Edo State, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, asserted that the role of the media in ensuring good governance is enshrined in section 32 of the Nigeria constitution.
Prof. Osunbor noted that the obligation of ensuring good governance must not rest on the journalist alone but should be a collective responsibility of every citizen, adding that one way of achieving this now is through the social media.Also, the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Waheed Odusile who was represented by NUJ Vice-president Zone F South-South, Mr. Edward Akpati-Ogude, said the national body of NUJ has intensified efforts in the fight against quackery in the journalism profession, adding that the fight was tailored to check cases of junk journalism and blackmail, pointing out that the union was currently investigating some cases.Earlier in an address, the Delta State Chairman of NUJ, Comrade Norbert Chiazor, disclosed that the Delta State NUJ under his leadership had trained about 40 journalists- Deltans and non Deltans in the prestigious REUTERS News Agency in London, United Kingdom and also the union have partnered with different organizations to hold series of seminars.Comrade Chiazor who expressed his appreciation to the former and present state governors for developing the NUJ Secretariat to an appreciable level, noted that his tenure is blessed with the monumental achievement of the building of the Delta State NUJ Press Center.