Delta state information officers under the ministry of information were on Thursday taken to the cleaners and chastised by the commissioner, Mr. Patrick Ukah, over what he called ‘foot dragging and laziness’ on the part of the workers to propagate the ‘SMART agenda’ of governor Ifeanyi Okowa which Deltans have described as ‘Dull Agenda’ in the last two years.
Unpredictable Ukah, who is usually referred to as ‘Erratic’ bombarded the information officers during an interactive section at a 1-Day Workshop for Information Officers with the theme: “The Role of Information Officers In The Implementation Of The SMART Agenda Of The State Government”, held at the government house, Asaba, accusing the ministry’s staff of being rude to constituted authorities.
According to the commissioner, the role of the officers was critical in educating the public on government policies and programmes, even as they served the needed feedback agents to government on such policies and programmes, stressing that it was their duty to research and get public opinion and advice chief executives through strategic planning and charged the officers to ensure the implementation of the SMART Agenda by being alive to their statutory responsibilities.
Fickle Ukah, who sought to know which of the information officers in any of the state government agencies and parastatal that has been able to activate his or her website, got infuriated when only six Public Relations Officers (PROs) signified.
“Only six officers in the whole of this hall. You know the job but Laziness, lack of commitment, lack of loyalty, lack of training skills and procrastination is what is holding you down”, unstable Ukah thundered.
The inconsistence commissioner also accused the information officers of maligning their various ministries, describing them as timid, “You are not proud of your ministry, most of you are the ones that runs your ministries down”, threatening to lay the sledge hammer on them, “some of you are getting too comfortable where you are”, the capricious commissioner threatened.
Some of the ministries whose PROs have not activated their website who the whimsical Ukah called includes the ministry of Finance, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Secondary and Basic Education among others.
Volatile Ukah said the officers were only good at introducing quests during courtesy visits to their bosses and collection of monies for onward disbursement, “you are good at picking the microphone and introducing quests during courtesy visits. If that is what you are good at then forget about it. I have told them at the headquarters to brace up. You can’t even advise your boss, give detail information of what is happening in your ministries. In two whole years, some of you don’t have reports on the newspapers and you want the governor to be happy? He cannot”, he said.
Earlier, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Ovie Agas, who declared the event opened told the Information Officers that they play a vital role in good governance as they are image makers, negotiators and facilitators, adding that they also provided feedback to the government on public opinions.
He urged them to take the one day seminar seriously as part of ensuring the success of the SMART Agenda of the present administration in order to serve the state better.
In his opening lecture, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Mr. Rotimi Oladele, informed the officers that public relations practice was a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill between an organization and its publics, adding that they were mediators between government and the governed.
Also speaking, the state Head of Service, Mr. Reginald Bayoko, said Information Officers had a central role to play in good governance and therefore urged the participants to understand their duties which according to him included assisting government to monitor publications in the media among others.
The former Head of the state civil service, Mr. Okey Ofili, in a lecture titled “Work Ethics And Information Officers” urged the participants to be mindful of their attitude to work saying that as information Officers, they were bound by rules and regulations of the civil service.