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February 22, 2017

Imo Information Commissioner visits The Leader

…Sues for better Understanding, Communication

…The Leader promises to continue to say the truth

For two hours Monday, Commissioner of Information, Tourism and Public Utilities Engr. Obinna Nshirim and The Leader rubbed minds with each other in a bid to find ways of improving their relationship.

The Commissioner who paid a courtesy call on The Leader, said the newspaper must clap for Government sometimes to celebrate its achievements. But the editor, Fr. Ray Nzereogu informed the commissioner it does not work that way.

“If in every edition we praise the governor, we won’t be doing him any good. If we clap hands for him all the time and tell him how wonderful he is, we do him no good. We must give him the critical element that would strengthen his government and his policies,” Fr. Nzereogu said in the company of his Associate Editor Sir Emeka Ani, deputy director Fr. Isaac Chima and Rev. Fr. Dr. Innocent Osuagwu.

“We are the voice of the people and we try to create an environment for the free exchange of ideas. The media should be free. Sometimes, the media becomes a platform for debate, a platform for government to rethink and look at its programme and get feedbacks”, Fr. Ray Nzereogu said.

The Commissioner said The Leader should publish positive things, to encourage the Governor rather than criticize him always.  He said a Governor who gave free education and built one hospital in every local Government area deserved praise.

“There are so many things the Governor has done well, let us make a song and dance of those ones as much as we are also pointing out his flaws.  Let it not be every week, ‘Rochas has done this or that,’ only negative things. Let us find a space and say ‘good boy’ for once!  Rochas is the first Governor of this state to take the whole Imo as his constituency.  Rochas said, ‘let there be one hospital in every local government. The latest he has done now is to employ 10 people from each ward,” Engr. Nshirim explained.

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“We must stress the positive as we are talking about the negative.  If you have a governor and you criticize him and criticize him, also find a space in your newspaper and say good boy. That might sharpen him to do more.  Another reason I say it’s important we stress the positive is, for instance, the free education.  He has given Imo People free education.  Let us not pretend that the free education is not needed in the state.”

The Editor assured the Commissioner that the newspaper had nothing personal against the Governor, although he pointed out that The Leader has been unduly shut out of Government House and starved of needed information. Fr. Nzereogu maintained that The Leader is a responsible newspaper and would not publish speculation or falsehood. “The Leader is not against the government, we are not against Rochas and we will be happy to promote anything good if we know and if we are made to know what is going on. But if we see anything going wrong, we will blow it as well.  That’s our duty” he said.

He disclosed The Leader, because of its strategic position, has access to so much information flowing in from the public domain, the opposition groups and even some people in government and as a good communicator, cannot ignore such crucial information, especially when efforts to obtain the government’s angle or position on such news prove abortive. “The Leader has a duty to make use of such privileged information in the interest of the public. What matters is to communicate the truth and not discriminate falsehood, as our duty is to say that white is white and black is black. We have that privilege to use the information

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In his contribution Fr. Dr. Innocent Osuagwu, said those in government have not gotten politics right.  “They have gotten politics fundamentally wrong” and “have not also understood the Church”

Fr. Osuagwu said the media must be on the side of truth There’s no reason that can justify crime. Lying  is crime.  You must tell the truth always.  Management of information does not mean you tell lies.  You may think of when to release the truth and when it’s appropriate. But it is important to ask “how do I release the information without telling lies”.  When you tell lies, you do no one any good. You harm the society.

He said the governor and his team should always endeavour to listen. “He should not allow those surrounding him to mislead or destroy him for example Onwuemedo, who say things that never happened”. “They so exaggerate and pass the wrong information to the people.  “Let the good works of the governor be made known exactly the way it happened”

Fr. Nzereogu said, a healthy line of communication should be maintained between the government and the media house. Commissioner promised that things will change for good.



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