Practice Developmental Journalism, SA Tourism Admonishes CRWATCH

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by crossriverwatch admin

Bar. Wilfred Usani, SA Tourism, Cross River State speaking during the visit
Bar. Wilfred Usani, SA Tourism, Cross River State speaking during the visit

The Special Adviser on Tourism Development to Governor Imoke, Barrister Wilfred Usani has admonished the CrossRiverWatch team to join hands with government and help to report the development efforts of the state and not always be too critical of the government.

Mr. Usani gave the advice while receiving some members of the editorial team of the media organization in his office at Okoi Arikpo House, Calabar on Friday. The visit was to explore areas of partnership to promote the tourism agenda of the state.

According to the SA, “In our society today, two challenging factors still remain that make our politics under developed; poverty and lack of education and because of them our politics is necessarily under developed”.

“You cannot call Cross River State a backwater state. It is one of the most advanced states in Nigeria in terms of how we govern. It is religious that every Wednesday we have our executive council meetings and that doesn’t happen in every state. And if you see how we conduct our executive council meetings; it is methodical, like a classroom.

“Cross River State today is the highest recipient of donor assistance in the country and that is because we have the best governance structures that assure the donors that their funding is properly managed. This our state, whether you like it or not, it is progressing, we are at the transition stage. It’s a bad time for the state because of poor funding but there’s progress because of the style of financial management we employed else we won’t be able to survive”.

“While I understand the duty you have to be critical of government action and that of public servants, you should also assist government in doing developmental reportage. If you concentrate only on being critical, and I know your reach is very wide, you may just heat up the system and burst it.”

The SA called on hoteliers and other tourism operators in the state to embrace the regulations that have been approved by the government and come forward to register and obtain their operating licenses.

Usani disclosed that only 6 provisional licenses have been issued to 6 hotels out of the 344 existing hotels in the state.

He added that while some others have applied and are on the process of getting licensed, others have abandoned their applications.

Responding on behalf of CrossRiverWatch, Agba Jalingo, said: “Our primary duty as journalists as stated in the Constitution is to hold government accountable to the people at all times. The crafters of constitutions all over the world who enshrined press freedom in the statute books took cognizance of the tendency of government to shroud their operations in secrecy. That is why we are saddled with the duty to dog after your heels and tell the public what government is doing. It is our constitutional duty as well.

“The major problem here however is the not what we publish but the unwillingness of state government officials to engage the press for reasons best known to them. There are several of them who just see us as interlopers and will not want to give any information. And that will not stop us from doing our work. If you refuse to talk, we will make efforts and if we don’t succeed, we will speculate because we must do our work. That is what you people will need to work on. Government must become more open so that we will have adequate and correct information from the government side to give to the public.

“Having said all these, it should also be put on record that, in less than two years of operation, we have become the biggest platform that is promoting the activities of Cross River state today. We are clearly and evidently doing that even beyond the state owned media establishments. 5.3million visitors, about 32,000 facebook fans and a Cross River State content specific focus, we reach more Cross Riverians than the national dailies with news from every nook and cranny of the state. We report the governor on a daily basis, in fact, more than any other media organization. So even the assertion that we are too critical of government is also not correct.”

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