From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulnus Nsirim, has charged the media to intensify partnership with the state government in the the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state through aggressive public awareness strategy.
The Information and Communications Commissioner gave the charge at a meeting with media executives at his office at the weekend.
He expressed worry at the spike in the spread of the pandemic in the state, saying that it needed urgent attention for increased media enlightenment campaigns.
Nsirim informed them of the need to carry out an aggressive public enlightenment programme to effectively educate and inform residents of the state on the need to strickly observe all the COVID-19 protocols as measures to protect themselves from the deadly pandemic.
He said: “As major stakeholders in the state, it is important that we see this as part of our corporate social responsibility to begin to do something very fast.
The coronavirus is spiking in Rivers State and I think strongly that as media executives, through our various platforms, we need to intensify public enlightenment in this direction”.
The expressed appreciation for the cooperation the media gave to the State Government’s COVID-19 Committees at the outbreak of the pandemic last year, urging them to reintroduce a constant airing of the various jingles produced by the state Government, which were given to the media organisations last year.
Nsirim noted: “Right now, it is so obvious that we need to intensify campaign, because behaviour change globally is a problem. There are people, who still believe that it is government propaganda. A greater percentage of the populace believe that the government is using it to get money.
He added that the media must take up the responsibility to change such erroneous impression of the majority of the population.
The Information and Communications commissioner maintained that the media houses in the state, particularly the electronic media, should take it as a corporate social responsibility to partner with the Rivers State Government to enlighten members of the public of the dangers of COVID-19 and how it could be prevented, so as to curb the spread in the state.
Nsirim stated: “There are issues that are topical, that really need to generate conversations, for our people to enlighten and educate them through your various programmes and contents. My appeal is that we make a conscience effort now to begin to drive this message home”.
He emphasised the need for the message to be spread frequently on a daily basis, so as to create the necessary awareness, adding that the spike in the second wave of the virus globally has posed great danger to everyone including those in the media industry who are most times, exposed to the public in the discharge of their duties.
He said while the state owned media houses could be made to carry these enlightenment, the private media houses which are not under government management should see it as a corporate social responsibility to also do same.
Nsirim said the need for the people to cultivate the habit of washing of hands and wearing face masks should be a necessity.
He said: “If everyone in the state wears a mask, the spread would be drastically contained. It is better to breathe with a face mask than to breathe with a ventilator”.
Media executives present at the meeting reassured the commissioner their preparedness to revisit their public awareness strategy in synergy with the State Government in its efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic in the state.
Giving a vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Barr. Mrs Ibiwari Clapton-Ogolo thanked the media executives for showing positive disposition to the efforts of the ministry in carrying out its functions and pledged the a continuous cordial relationship with the media in the State.