ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, AT THE 46TH MEETING OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INFORMATION, ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER, 28, 2016, AT THE EVENT CENTRE, ASABA.
I wish to formally welcome you all to Delta State, and thank you sincerely for taking the time to come to Asaba for the 46th Meeting of the National Council on Information.
I am confident that in the past two days you have had fruitful deliberations on how the federal and state governments can leverage on information and digital technology for the purposes of good governance and sustainable development. It is my hope and expectation that the gains of this conference will be put to good use when you return back to your various stations.
Before leaving Asaba, I urge you to also make out time to unwind, explore and enjoy the raw charm of our State and the wonderful hospitality of our people. Delta State boasts of several tourist attractions ranging from beaches, resorts, gardens, museums, traditional festivals, and historical monuments. Here in Asaba and environs, we have the Landers Brothers Anchorage, The Residency (first headquarters of the Royal Niger Company) craft centres, Ogbeke Square and Okpuzu Fall in Ibusa. So get to know a little more of Nigeria’s tourist potential and rich cultural heritage by taking the time to visit any of these tourist attractions.
I will start my discourse by acknowledging that information is the live wire of any organisation, whether public or private. It satisfies our need to know, excites our curiosity, expands our knowledge base and enables us to make informed decisions and wise judgments. Efficient information management aids organisational efficiency, promotes understanding of government policies, programmes and actions, facilitates accountability and documents the activities of government for the benefit of present and future generations.
The reality of our fast-paced, high tech global world dictates that information is treated in the same manner as other valuable assets. When governments suffer from credibility crisis, the problem is often traceable to improper, inadequate and inefficient information management that creates a chasm and fuels distrust between the governed and their leaders. Hence information management should be given the same professional, skilful management and strategic deployment as we do other assets, to maximise its value in public administration and corporate governance.
In line with global best practices, it is incumbent on us, beginning from the federal level, to articulate a VISION for government information management that is clear, concise and measurable. The STRATEGY for its implementation should contain principles for coherent internal communication in government, as well as information management protocols regarding use of private emails for official functions, the process of information dissemination from the office of a minister/commissioner, instant messaging using a mobile device, and designing, developing and deploying web content.
In theory, the Ministry of Information is the officially designated organ for managing and disseminating government information; it is supposed to be the clearing house for all government information. In practice, however, we have seen situations where heads of other ministries and political appointees made public pronouncements that contradicted the official government policy/position, leading to confusion in the minds of the public and loss of confidence in government’s information machinery. A clearly defined and well documented policy on information management strategy could easily have precluded such faux pas.
We live in an information age; information technology is revolutionising the way we live, work and do business. It has also impacted significantly on the way governments are run. The social media and other digital platforms have significantly altered the media landscape. It is a welcome development to the extent that it promotes citizen participation in government.
However, the current scenario also calls for a paradigm shift in managing the interface between the government and the public. As information managers, your first responsibility is to ensure that information fed to the public is complete, accurate, relevant and understandable. You must also become more scientific in your approach and go beyond the realm of information dissemination to embrace the more strategic function of communication.
Communication involves speaking and listening; it prioritises research and action before speaking and demands constant evaluation of our information management strategies. I believe the Ministries of Information should serve as sensors of stakeholder and public opinion on and about the policies, programmes and performance of the government through regular perception audits. Such intelligence is very useful in ascertaining the impact and acceptability of government policies and programmes as well as helping to gauge public perception of the President or Governor. More significantly, information gathered through the audits enables the government to make the right decisions and design programmes targeted at relevant needs of the populace.
I pray for God’s wisdom and guidance upon you in this assignment.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Office of the Governor