The Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, on Sunday blasted the information managers of COVID-19 Committee in the state over what it called ‘persistent information mismanagement’ and lack of coordination in giving updates.
Recall that there have been conflicting figures and statements on the COVID-19 update in the state, especially on the number of discharged COVID-19 patients in the State.
Worried by the information discrepancies, the state leadership of NUJ, in a statement entitled, ‘The Soup-Pot Information Management on COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom Continues’, which was signed by its Chairman, Amos Etuk and the Secretary, Dominic Akpan, regretted that major stakeholders in the Information sector were not taken into consideration in such events.
The NUJ wondered why press conferences on COVID 19 update should be held without the presence of Journalists who should get first hand information and ask necessary questions for clarifications.
They further regretted that though Gov. Udom Emmanuel had ensured the safety of Akwa Ibom people, yet the manner of presentation of his efforts to the public by the COVID-19 information managers left much to be desired.
Buttressing their points, NUJ said the press briefing held in the state government house Sunday afternoon by COVID-19 information managers on the attempt to carry out massive testing of Akwa Ibom people to ascertain the level of infection before lifting the ban on the economy lacked details, depth and consistency.
It said as usual, members of the Union which included correspondents of National Dailies, publishers of local tabloids and reporters of state government owned media horses were not invited to the said press conference which should have given them the privilege to ask questions for more details and elucidation.
The Statement reads: “The Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, is concerned by the persistent information mismanagement by those charged with the responsibility to update Akwa Ibom people on the coronavirus pandemic, popularly known as COVID- 19.”
“While Gov. Udom Emmanuel is doing everything to ensure the safety of Akwa Ibom people, the manner of presentation of his efforts to the public by the COVID-19 information managers calls for concern as major stakeholders in the sector are often not taken into consideration in such events. This afternoon, COVID-19 information managers issued a Press Statement, announcing that the COVID- 19 Management Team is carrying out massive testing of Akwa Ibom people to ascertain the level of infection before lifting the ban on the economy this week, without the presence of major stakeholders in the information sector, including the NUJ, which comprises correspondents of national newspapers and journalists in the local media and state government-owned media organizations.”
“While the intention to embark on massive testing of the people is commendable, we are quick to point out that the statement, is lacking in details, depth and consistency. The following questions concerning the statement beg for answers. When is the massive testing exercise commencing? Is there any NCDC approved laboratory in Akwa Ibom? If the answer to question 2, is yes; where is the laboratory located? Are Akwa Ibom people going to be tested in their houses? How long will the exercise last? Is it possible for the testing team to cover the 31 local government areas in few days, before the lifting of the ban on the economy?”
“Has Akwa Ibom State Government received test kits from the Federal Government, groups or individuals; if the answer is yes, what is the quantity?”
The NUJ therefore, called for synergy and collaboration in the dissemination of information in the States, as applicable in other states of the federation for the good of the people.