By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
The body of Online Publishers in Delta State, the Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), has frowned on attacks on the state Commissioner of Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, using the forum’s media interactive programme, “Frontline” held recently in Asaba, the state capital.
In a press release signed by the chairman of the Forum, Mr. Emmanuel Enebeli, the group frowned at the wrong reporting that he was alleged to suppressing freedom of expression, by censoring journalists present in the programme to avoid asking the commissioner critical questions regarding to its stewardship.
The statement stated that there was no time members were prevented from asking interested questions, as the programme is billed to bring personalities from different works of life to explain certain policies and believes as it affects or emanates from their activities as public or private servants.
It stated that the DOPF does not work on heresay, and the forum cannot be dragged into what was not their mission, as its not an investigative panel.
“This ugly attitude has greatly affected our thinking and behaviours, that even within the media family we have become more destructive and blind to our callings, that many of us had chosen the part of finding faults, or creating alibis when non exists. And this is what just happened at the end of a success media interaction with the Honourable Commissioner for Information of Delta State, Chief Patrick Ukah, where reference was made in an article, Titled “Second Tenure State Executive Council: Why Governor Ifeanyi Okowa Must Not Reappoint Delta State Information Commissioner, Patrick Ukah Again..”
“Chairman of DOPF, Mr. Emmanuel Enebeli did not ‘passionately appeal to anybody not to be hard on the Commissioner with critical questions’. Those who were present at the parley will confirm that what he said was purely within the context of the rules of engagement and best professional practices all over the world, in any event that involves an interactive session. In summary, he advised participants to display a high sense of decency, decorum and factual articulation rather than speculative jibes and salacious misinformation, sourced from unconfirmed and unsubstantiated rumours, in their verbal engagements with the Commissioner. This can be verified from our video recordings.”
“It is indeed to the high credit of those who spoke, that virtually all the questions asked, were of high calibre, intellectually sound and delivered in clean and proper English, which were not only excellent as a modus for rating journalists in the state, but indeed required lengthy, detailed and concise answers from the Commissioner, to the contextual satisfaction of all present, except maybe those who were only in attendance to find something fishy to report, like the baseless allegation of ‘passionate appeal’ which is totally unfounded.”
“The intention and mandate of the Online Publishers FRONTLINE programme, is to provide a platform and opportunity for the critical segments of the society to share views, create awareness for their programmes, initiatives and activities, and by so doing meet the yearnings of members of the public who seek neutral platforms to make their views known and contribute to the state and national discourse.”
“To therefore suggest as the writer of this referenced article did in the same paragraph 2, that the Commissioner ‘declined’ to answer questions on how much was expended on the projects, is dubiously uncharitable and economical with the truth, as those who were physically present at the interactive session will confirm that such a question was not even posed to him to elicit his disinclination to respond or not. This can further be verified with video recording of the event.”