WATCHING over the Information Ministry in Delta State is a huge assignment. Apart from being the spokesman for the Delta State Government, he should be concerned about the facilities under his ministry.
He has Delta Radio and Television in both Asaba and Warri. I am pretty familiar with the workings of the state newspaper, The Pointer.
I had been General Manager of the Delta Printing and Publishing Company, (publishers of The Pointer) and I know it is not going to be an easy task. During my stint at The Pointer titles, I succeeded in managing poverty as funds were so scarce in the days between 1988 and 1989 under Col. David Dungs and Commodore Ibrahim Kefas.
As governors in military uniforms, they did not bother too much about press freedom. Their words were a command.
There was a lot of self-censorship by editors and all those in positions of authority in media houses.
For the radio and television Houses, they need brand new equipment.
For The Pointer Newspapers where I ply a four-weekly column as a veteran journalist, what they lack mostly is computers and a full-fledged standby generating set, especially, in these days when public power fails so constantly. The would need greater funding, a reasonable level of autonomy and motor vehicles and greater public patronage by purchase of copies and space (adverts).
I was also thrilled when the Commissioner spoke about moving The Pointer Newspaper to its permanent site along DBS Road in the core GRA area of Asaba.
Commissioner Aniagwu would do well to investigate how much of The Pointer land is still intact as developers
seem to have encroached on the choice land within the GRA.
Publishing a newspaper in Nigeria is capital-intensive, from sourcing for newsprints to having a reliable printing press. In the life of The Pointer Newspaper, the printing is done by the Vanguard newspapers press located in the Asaba GRA for a fee. This requires a review so that the paper can have its own odern press and print its papaers.
What the newspaper does for the state government is essentially a social service to put across the views of the state governor and his commissioners.
The state newspaper is the official mouthpiece of the state and any untoward story concerning the state is not expected to be published by The Pointer. He who pays the piper calls the tunes, as it is said.
The grand plan to move The Pointer to its permanent site is laudable and should be encouraged by all.
First things first, set up the automatic printing press at the new site and ensure that a state-of-the art Press is installed there.The cooling system must be near perfect in all the Editorial and Management offices with an accompaniment
of distribution vans or Toyota Hiace vans.
Journalism in the 21st century must not be allowed to cover stories or attend news conferences in rickety vehicles
and all reporters must be computer-literate.
Meanwhile, as we are expecting the ideal settings for the newspaper, it has to be relaunched for greater effect in its new premises.
As a former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okowa, Aniagwu knows that most of the state adverts are usually channeled to some national newspapers for nationwide effect by the state government.Those that trickle to The Pointer stables are usually free of charge or with delayed payments by the ministries and agencies.
The ball is now in Aniagwu’s court and both the yam and the knife are in his hands. I do not believe he would like to impoverish The Pointer stables by withholding its due payments and relevant funds for the newspaper.
There is an ongoing slogan started by former Governor
Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan emphasising the fact that Delta, being an oil-producing state and had excelled always in sports, it behoves us to excel in producing a state newspaper that has two of its sons doing so well in Lagos and Abuja- Mr. Amuka Pemu and Nduka Obaigbena, publishers of Thisday and Vanguard, respectively. Even the Guardian has Delta blood running in it, especially at the core of management.The Pointer cannot be different and it must soar above other state newspapers.
It is daunting and difficult but not insurmountable. Budget constraints are always a handicap but with special links with the Governor, Aniagwu must shine at the end of the day.The challenge before him is enormous and almost each of his colleagues in the Executive Council would envy him, knowing where he is coming from.The essence of The Pointer is to document all government statements and policy directions in full.
Any careless news item not properly cleared by his Ministry could land both the General Manager and Editors
in trouble. and he must develop eagle eyes over the goings on in The Pointer.One is not suggesting there are no capable hands in The Pointer.There are many competent hands and editors plus a General Manager who grew from within The Pointer stables to emerge: Monday Uwagwu is a hardcore newsman and enjoys zero tolerance for slips and editorial errors.
Mr. Charles Aniagwu, as a professional journalist, you know what I am talking about. My idea is to ginger up for the huge challenge ahead and with the help of staff and government you will excel and do a perfect job as the state’s spokesperson and information guru. Jointly we shall conquer all the odds on the path to perfection. Welcome aboard.