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Rose Oranye :

Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu has advised journalists to see themselves as partners with government and play their roles responsibly, even as he stated that Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo CFR does not hate journalists but is constrained by available resources.

Reacting to the social media reports where the Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Council, Dr Odogwu Emeka Odogwu claimed that Governor Soludo is an enemy of journalists,  Nwosu said he was taken aback by the report given that there was no provocation for the outburst.

“I have been a member of NUJ for over 35 years and more importantly, Dr Emeka Odogwu is my friend. So, if there were issues,  I expect we would have discussed it but to the best of my knowledge, there was none. I am surprised he talked about subvention; that they applied for subvention to the government and it was rejected. Who does not know that we are living in austere times? The national economy is heavily reliant on the federal allocation that gets it’s own revenue through oil sales. Look at what has been happening to the oil market. The revenue has dropped and we are struggling here to see if we can ramp up our internally generated revenue. And for this reason, Mr Governor has decided to rationalize on everything we are doing so that he will be able to deliver on his mandate to ndị Anambra. I expect that an erudite colleague of mine like Emeka Odogwu would have understood this because this is something that the governor has continued to harp on; that for him to be able to deliver quality roads, provide employment and other social amenities, there has to be prudent financial managemement. Most leakages have to be blocked. Some people have to do with less of what they used to get. And I expect that members of the fourth estate of the realm who are partners of government should understand this. So, how come all of a sudden, subvention or no subvention has become an issue. Is it only their subvention that has been affected? There are other areas where government has to rationalize,” he said.

While expressing happiness that the NUJ Chairman acknowledged the fact that the Ministry of Health provided free medical care to journalists during their last press week, the Commissioner wondered why they didn’t see the Ministry of Health as part of Soludo’s Government. The Ministry of Health couldn’t have provided the free medical care without Governor Soludo’s approval.

According to Nwosu, the issue of invitation to the Governor’s two years in office is simply looking for an excuse to vent in this manner because everybody was invited. “The invitation was given to everybody including journalists. Otherwise, how was the event covered such that people all over the world got to know about it and the good works that Mr Governor has done? How come people knew about the second anniversary and the beautiful roads and other amenities, clean water supply and the rest of them that the governor has done if journalists didn’t cover it?” he asked.

On the issue of National Light, the Commissioner said that in view of the prevalent scarce resources government had to prioritize in order to be better cost efficient. That National Light was shut down does not mean that the staff were sent home empty handed. Yes, National Light was shut down for reasons that were given then. But the entire staff were absorbed into the Ministries,  Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including my own Ministry of Information.

“Sometimes when people talk, I wonder whether they live with us in this Anambra State or they’re in the diaspora. What I’m trying to do is to correct the wrong impression. If he’s saying that the governor is not as forthcoming as those before him, he should also be able to see why it is not happening the way it used to happen before because the bread and butter or the manna does not fall the way it used to fall before. Resources are actually scarce and for any reasonable government, the right thing to do is to begin to rationalize and curb wastages in order to channel available resources to key areas that will benefit greater number of Ndi Anambra. Does this now mean that Soludo hates journalists? Mbanu! I think my Chairman over reacted.

“I can also tell you that between myself and the Press Secretary, Chris Aburime, we have attended a number of NUJ events since the inception of this administration two years ago. In fact, at one of the events, I delivered a paper. Those I couldn’t attend, the Press Secretary attended. Does Dr Odogwu think that we attended those events without the tacit approval of the Governor? “As a matter fact, it’s actually the Governor that delegates us to represent him at those events because they write to him directly and he minutes the letters to either myself, the Commissioner for Information, or the Press Secretary to go and represent him. So, where have we gone wrong? Where has Mr Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, gone wrong? Does that show a man who hates journalists?”

The Commissioner said that Soludo is not just a friend of the profession, he’s also been an active participant as newpapers’ guest columnist in the recent past and a social media commentator when the pressure of state assignments permit him.

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