By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja
Speaker House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has charged media practitioners in the country to rise to their responsibility of ensuring that those who hold public offices are accountable to the populace.
Gbajabiamila stated this in Abuja yesterday at the opening ceremony of a one-day seminar organized by the House of Representatives Press Corps on Fight Against Corruption: Setting Agenda for the 9th House of Representatives.
The Speaker, who lamented that corruption in public office severs the relationship of trust and accountability that ought to exist between the leaders and the people they lead, expressed concern that media houses and media practitioners have failed to utilize the recently passed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)to hold public officers accountable.
“When the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed into law, many critics worried that the press would abuse the law to demand access to information that isn’t covered by the mandate of the Act. Those critics recognised that the Act provided an enormously powerful tool for truth-seekers to identify and expose malfeasance in public office. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that you in the press have fully embraced the possibilities of the Act. Media houses have not invested in training personnel and providing resources for investigative journalism. This needs to change, because as those of us in public office have a mandate to fight corruption by building a culture of transparency within our institutions, and by empowering law enforcement to do its job effectively without fear or favour, you too have an obligation to hold us to account, and to do so honourably, Gbajabiamila said.
According to him, success in the fight against corruption requires that we build accountability and transparency into the fabric of our institutions. From the executive to the legislature and even the judiciary, we must let the light into the inner workings of all the branches of government; the ministries, department and agencies through which they operate. Budgets should be public; citizens have a right to know who is spending their money and what it is being spent on.
Similarly, he said corruption has for too long denied us the resources and the will to invest in our communities and make the radical choices essential to prosperity and progress. We have only now begun to correct the errors of the locust years. We must not look back, we must not waiver, and above all, we must not fall into the false comfort of believing that this is somebody else’s fight. We are all responsible, we are all obligated.
I congratulate you on the occasion of this seminar. I hope that all who participate here today will emerge from this gathering with a renewed determination and commitment to save our beloved country from the ravages of public corruption.
Also speaking, Auwal Musa, Executive Director of Civil Society Organizations, said it was expedient that the next phase of government’s anti-corruption programme be anchored on clear anti-corruption strategy, active support and involvement of citizens groups and the legislature while the fight must prioritize prevention and sanction to win back public support.
He stressed that there was the need to strengthen anti-corruption institutions, provide adequate protection and encouragement for whistle-blowers, and intensify media and public consciousness in demanding transparency and accountability in governance.
“The role of the National Assembly is clearly defined in the Nigeria constitution; making laws for the well-being and development of the people and our democracy, oversighting the Executive arm, among other things. The biggest threat to these roles is first “the attitude of the lawmakers’ followed by the general apathy and distrust for this important arm of government,” Musa said.
Oladayo Olaide, Representative of the McArthur Foundation urged the House of Representatives and the National Assembly generally to pay more attention to its oversight function so as to measure the performance of Ministries, Departments and Agencies with regards to budgetary votes so as to identify cases of corruption.
Alia Appoints NAN Correspondent, Others Media Aides
By David Torough, Abuja
Benue state Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, on Monday, appointed a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Principal Correspondent, Bridget Ikyado, as his Principal Special Assistant (PSA) on Media & Publicity/Strategic Communications.
This was contained in a press statement in Makurdi by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Tersoo Kula.
Alia, in the statement, approved the appointment of 11 media aides with various designations.
He appointed other aides including; Angula Reuben – Principal Special Assistant (PSA) on ICT & New Media.
He also appointed Isaac Uzaan, Principal Special Assistant (PSA) on Media & Content Creation and Donald Kumun – Principal Special Assistant (PSA) on Print Media.
Also in the statement, he appointed Ferdinand Shinyi – Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media & Strategic Communications, James Asortar – Special Assistant on Social Media and Igbatar Jerry – Special Assistant on Digital Media.
Ahoho Terungwa was appointed Special Assistant on Broadcast Media, Ephraim Lanshima – Special Assistant on Visual Communication (Photographer), Raphael Ajav – Personal Assistant on Videography and Wizzy Wisdom – Personal Assistant on Photography.
Before Ikyado’s appointment, she was at the agency’s head office in Abuja covering Religious Affairs and Solutions and Developmental Journalism.
In her 13 years of working with NAN, she has attended several national and international trainings, notable among which were trainings in Cybercrime and Security, Health and Gender.
The governor also assigned portfolios to some Special Advisers, including; Alex Addingi – International Investment, Fidelis Unongo – Special Duties & Intergovernmental Affairs.
Akombo Benedict – Business, SMEs & Microfinance, Bemgba Anjembe – Agriculture & Climate Change, Dr. Dennis Akura – Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs, Jonathan Lahave – Legislative Matters, were also appointed.
Dr. Aondona Mkor Aondona – Research, Documentation & Strategy, Akaager Imoter Isaac – LGA Market Coordination & Monitoring, and Jonathan Gyuse – Poverty Alleviation & Youth Empowerment, were among the list.
Freed Journalist Narrates Ordeal in Kidnapper’s Den
By David Torough, Abuja
A journalist with The Pavilion Newspaper, Moses Ogaga , who was recently abducted described his experience in the hands of his abductors as horrible.
Ogaga was kidnapped along with 13 others on September 17, in Benue.
He, said, although an undisclosed amount of money was paid by family members before they were released, no man should take the glory except God as he said, only God’s grace and mercy kept them alive.
Narrating his ordeal to DAILY ASSET, Ogaga stated that their vehicle ran into the kidnappers numbering about 6, carrying sophisticated weapons, who shot sporadically in the air with their faces masked.
He said that the criminals broke some portions of the vehicle’s windscreens, held passengers on-board captive and guarded them into the forest, where they were severely tortured.
“The abductors who were suspected to be nomadic Fulanis communicated among themselves in Fulani language but speak the common broken-English to their captives; and have cattle mooing around in the nearby bushes and the cattle were always moved to a closer range to wherever we were moved to.”
“When we were asked to declare our tribal identity, we were so discretional; it was later gathered from our captors that if any was found to be a Tiv, Agatu or Igede person from Obi LG specifically, it would have been deadly.”
He stated that while in the forest, their abductors ensured that any communication to their family members or friends was not in any other dialect but the common broken-English and was restricted and targeted at payment of ransom only.
“ We were stripped of everything in our pockets and given no food or water for the first two nights and days and we were severally moved from one spot to another through the nights and days; ordering us to lie face down, drenched in the mud, beaten by pests and the heavy rains in spite the corporal punishment and we became so weak and tired and felt hell while on earth,’ he lamented.
He disclosed that ransom for the victims was not the same but dependent on the amount accepted by the kidnappers, using based on their judgment to rate victims differently and the power of bargain from the respective rescuers.
Ogaga further hinted that his case was bad because he was found with an NUJ identity card and was believed to be government functionary and instrumental to castigating their operations, adding that two of his SIM cards and a 3-sim Tecno touch-light phone were not returned to him by the kidnappers.
He faulted the security architecture in the country and lamented that the security officers on highway check-points have turned their priority on financial gains from commercial vehicle drivers instead of protection of lives and property.
“And except proactive and tactical security measures are deployed to nip this ugly trend to the bud, we are vulnerable and left at the mercy of the perpetrators of this heinous act,” he reinstated.
He maintained that while in captivity, there was no security intervention of any sort, “no police, no soldier or the villagers attempted in any way to rescue us.”
NUJ Tasks Security Agencies on Killing of Borno Farmers
The Borno Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has raised concern over continued killing of farmers harvesting their crops by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in the state.
This was contained in a communique issued on Sunday at the end of the State NUJ Congress in Maiduguri.
The council urged security agencies and the State Government to collaborate toward finding lasting solution to the problem.
It also tasked the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital to release its research report on prevalence of kidney diseases in the Borno which was funded to the tune of N50m by the Governor Babagana Zulum administration.
It praised the state government for constructing additional mega schools and recruiting teachers and urged the government to take decisive action in enroling large number of out-of-school children on the streets.
“Congress commended the Borno government for implementing transport subsidies, which have helped citizens, civil servants, and the business community cope with the increased transportation costs due to fuel subsidy removal and pump price hikes.
“The congress also urged the government to establish bus stops for the transport buses to prevent conflicts with commercial tricycle operators.
“The congress also praised the government for distributing palliatives to citizens to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
“However, it urged the government to monitor the distribution to prevent diversion by individuals and to ensure that the aid reaches citizens who have not yet benefited.”
The council commended the state government for reconstructing the burnt Maiduguri Monday Market, and urged the allocation committee to be fair and just in allocating the shops to beneficiaries.
It also lauded government’s efforts against the outbreak diphtheria and urged the government to increase public awareness campaigns on preventive measures against it and other diseases.
The council commended the state government for its sustained support to union and its operations in the state.(NAN
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