AUSTIN OYIBODE, EDITOR
For the first time in the history of the celebration of the creation of Delta state, a chief press secretary to Delta state governor barred journalists from participating and covering the thanksgiving service marking the creation of the state.
Delta state was created out of the defunct Bendel state on August 27, 1993, making it a distinct independent state. The unbundling of Bendel state led to the creation of Edo and Delta states with capitals in Benin and Asaba respectively.
Following the creation, on 27th August every year, Deltans both at home and in Diaspora do roll out the drums to celebrate and commemorate the creation of the state.
The celebration involves thanksgiving service, reeling out the successes made over the years and the preparation for the way forward in making a greater Delta which will capture the dream of all residents.
The celebration is an opportunity for all Deltans to celebrate with the governor of the state and join hands to fashion a way to make Delta great.
Journalists, as usual, are part of the celebration. It affords them opportunity to make stories as per the reactions of Deltans to the successes made over the years.
But on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, the new Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Olisa Ifeajika, barred journalists from gaining access to the government house chapel where the thanksgiving service was held by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Editor of Emeraldng.com was particularly embarrassed at the entrance when he noticed that journalists were prevented from entering the new government house where members of the state executive council and other Deltans gathered for the thanksgiving service.
As our editor attempted moving in with a staff of the Delta Broadcasting Service and the publisher of Ijawvoice online, a detachment of security personnel blocked the journalists from going in with a bombardment of questions to the consternation of the three media personnel.
A flurry of questions followed from the police officers at the gate: “Where are you going to? What is your name? Our editor informed them of going to cover the thanksgiving service by the governor. He was then asked to wait to check whether his name was on a prepared list by the CPS to the governor, Olisa Ifeajika.
On seeing that his name was not on the list, he was asked to leave the gate. On a peep into the number of journalists on the list, it was discovered that only seven media organizations were recorded for entry out of the multitude of journalists in Delta state.
It is believed that the action may have been orchestrated by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor as he is the only person who has the mandate to handle the issues pertaining to media in the Delta government house.
Prior to the appointment of Ifeajika, a senior editorial staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the former CPS who is now Information Commissioner, Charles Aniagwu, was fond of selecting journalists for the governor’s press conferences, an action which many journalists had badly condemned in the state.
Many had thought the appointment of Ifeajika will bring an end to such attitude, but rather than bringing a stop to it, on his first major assignment since his appointment, Ifeajika disappointed journalists on a special day to celebrate with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
At an impromptu meeting Ifeajika held with journalists in Asaba, he had hinted on fighting quackery among journalists in the state.
One may therefore not be wrong to believe that this action was the beginning of his fight against quackery among the media practitioners in the state.
One can also conclude that the seven names he listed as bonafide journalists fit to cover the event may be the only qualified journalists from his rating, hence others are quacks, though members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state.
It is imperative to announce that Ifeajika is starting on a wrong footing which will certainly not be too sweet and beautiful for the governor as his action may bounce back in a way that may not be palatable for him.
Rather than making friends with journalists, he is pushing them far away from the governor thereby giving them opportunity to write whatever comes their way since he is blocking access to get first-hand information from the governor.