U.S Envoy challenges Govt on accessible information, trains Spokespersons
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.
United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle has challenged the Nigerian government to make its information accessible to the public as that is an essential ingredient that promotes democracy and accountability in governance.
According to him, “Open and unfettered access to information is the essential ingredient that promotes democracy and accountability in governance”.
He gave the advice at a two-day Workshop for Government Spokespersons in Northern Nigeria organised by US Embassy and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna Thursday.
Entwistle said an effective government press operation is critical in communicating clear and timely information to the public about government policies and actions, especially as related to President Muhammadu Buhari’s priorities of counterterrorism, anti-Corruption and economic development.
He noted that the work of the spokespersons carries a tremendous amount of responsibility and will help shape public knowledge and perceptions of government through the media. “Your ability to do this job effectively in a fast-paced, technology-driven world requires frequently updating your skills.
“And to help impart this knowledge, we’ve brought Eduardo Cue, a Paris-based, American senior media consultant and journalist who also has experience as a government (UN) spokesperson” he stressed.
Declaring the workshop open, Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai called on the spokesperson of government to liaise with the media in disseminating information to the public.
Represented by his deputy, Banabas Bala Bantex, the governor said “we are committed to transparency and we are committed to provision of the constitution particularly as it regards to the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state polices particularly the participation of the people in government.
“We have sign into an open budget, where people can track everything we are doing and pursue their naira to its logical destination.
“All we are asking for is not to cover for anything we are doing wrong, if there is any, and to project what we are doing to the people.”
In his speech, National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abdulwaheed Odusile, reminded government Spokespersons that they have a big role to play in making government information open and accessible to the people.
He commended the US government for the initiative and partnership with the NUJ in organising the workshop.