Former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, has, Thursday the 15th of February, 2018, lauded the developmental strides of the Bayelsa state Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, especially in the information sector, noting that there is a close relationship between democracy and information.
Professor Gana gave the statement during a panel discussion and while commissioning the newly built Bayelsa State Information House which was one of the activities lined up for the celebration marking the 6th anniversary of Governor Dickson’s administration, also called the “Restoration Government.”
The theme of the discussion was, “Managing Government Information in this volatile new media age: A matter of theory or a question of practice.”
The discussion which was moderated by Mr. Freesten Akpo, the former Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to former Governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, also had other discussants who includes the former minister of information, Mr. Labaran Maku; Former Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey; a media activist and a former Special Adviser, SA, to ex-Senate President, David Mark, Mr. Ochei Elias and a former commissioner for information, Louis Odion.
While Maku notated that public education is a key factor in information system, Mr. Odey likened information to air that needs proper management. Also, while Mr. Elias said the social media have become aircraft, Mr. Odion noted that while he used to see Bayelsa and Yenegoa as jungles, that governor Dickson has, however, transformed the state and has, indeed, brought visible restoration.
While explaining the relationship between information and development, Professor Gana said information can be likened to light and that when the people are fed the accurate and correct information, then they become enlightened to make good political judgments.
According to him, “it is always good to give excellent information” to enable the people to “see clearly, choose good leaders” who will then bring “good governance” and drive greater development.
He said governments should always inform the people, especially on their activities, to avoid rumours. He said, “If the people are not informed, then they will go and choose bad leaders, bad policies, bad development. Everything will go back to poverty.”
Commenting on the need for governments to manage the new media for effective information dissemination, Mr. Maku said, “As we have seen in the new media, every citizen now has access to information and the capacity to disseminate it.” He said more investments should be done in the education of the people on the use of the new media.
“We need to invest heavily in education in order to make our citizens literate and to be able to participate in information age.”
He said governments must make information free and accessible to the people first hand so as to avoid being reported wrongly by a third party.
In his own submission, Mr. Elias said, the social media is like an aircraft that neither has a tail weight nor a head weight. He said governments can provide a tail weight by providing, as a guide, information on what it is doing for the people so as to build trust among the people, majority of whom are the youths who use the social media more.
Mr Odey, while commending Governor Dickson on his style of informing the people about what his administration is doing for them, however urged other governments in other states to emulate the Restoration Government.
For Mr. Odion, “Governor Dickson has created a solid ground for Bayelsa. Before, I used to see Bayelsa, Yenegoa as a jungle. But with you now, the impression one gets is that there is serious, focus-minded development.”
“When I came here, I saw a quick transformation. I must really commend you for you have changed the narratives here” from what it used to be.
He however urged that the government organise a social media team who would always join conversations that order on the state to give facts as they truly are as well as defend the state with facts where falsehood is being reported to the masses.
At the commissioning of the projects, Governor Dickson, while welcoming his guests, said the projects which were being commissioned were for the advancement of Bayelsans. He said his administration now offers many scholarships to the youths.
Also at the event is the former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ibrahim Mantu.
While Inaugurating the Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Research Centre, Alhaji Mantu described the health facility as exceptional, saying it would provide vaccines capable of preventing life threatening diseases.
He said, “Governor Dickson has made the best investment as the project will not only preserve the health of Bayelsans, but attract people from all over the world.”
Another project commissioned in the state is the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme(BHIS) office.