The Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya has stressed the need for media practitioners to be thorough and be armed with accurate facts and figures in their investigative journalism.
He also asked them to always project the image of the State in its true perspective to counter the negative picture being presented by some individuals.
Igbuya, who spoke while receiving the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Award of Excellence tagged Legislative Competence and Exceptional Leadership in Asaba, expressed disappointment at the actions of some journalists in the state.
“Those with sinister motives rush to online media to air their frivolous and malicious publication because it provides cover for litigation. Sahara reporters and The Will should, on their part, check the veracity of news item before publishing. They need to be mindful that true journalism is not a tool for witch hunting” he said.
In a tone suggestive of his condemnation for falsehood, the speaker said he was disturbed when Trend; a new radio station aired the purported resignation or threat of resignation of the managing director of DESOPADEC.
“There exists a cordial relationship between the commission and the House of Assembly. The commission is being run by a board saddled with the policy formulation of the commission while the managing director and his management staff handle the implementation.
“The appropriate place to tender any thought of resignation is to the board, not the speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. The pressure over budget as speculated by the aforementioned media houses is purely speculative. As I speak, the budget of the commission is not before the House. I have not seen DESOPADEC budget” he emphasised.
He urged journalists to stop engaging in acts inimical to the development of the state and prevent themselves from being used by individuals and organizations that do not mean well for Delta State.
“You don’t make allegations that are unfounded. Because of paucity of fund in the state, the allocation to councils has dropped drastically. Some local government areas are in arrears of salaries to their staff. Some of them do not have three million as allocation, let alone raising N3million for the House of Assembly.
“In fact, my local government council got N2.7 as allocation. So, how can a council that got N2.7million pay N3million? Where will the chairman get the money? Some got zero allocation. Most local governments are currently indebted to the federal government”
He observed that the relevant agencies or the operators of these agencies particularly the Local Government Chairmen, the ALGON Chairman, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs or the House Committee Chairmen on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs were not reached as to ascertain the veracity of the information. These are public figures whose offices and telephone numbers are in the public domain. A little, just a little sincere effort on the part of the publishers would have revealed the true position of things.
“They did not explore the necessary avenues to verify their twisted facts”.
To prevent denting of image which false reports could create in the minds of the public, Igbuya advised journalists to always verify their facts.
“Before publishing or airing any story, please verify your facts. I am open to investigation. Don’t write frivolous and unfounded stories. Always verify your information. Journalists should not believe in hearsay. Somebody wants to resign, or he is threatening to resign, the journalists should confirm the story. He should be able to reach the person. I think that is what you call balance reporting.”
“As professionals, you must ensure that quacks are not given room to destroy the practice of journalism and bring your profession into disrepute in the state,” he advised.
“I started as a councilor; I didn’t jump to become Speaker. Some persons started from the top. I started from the bottom. It took me a lot of time to get to where I am and I will not tolerate any person who tries to drag my name to the mud” he added.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Delta State chapter, Hon Itiako Ikpokpo has dismissed the story, describing it as a stupid allegation.
“Who is making that kind of stupid allegation? Did they see any money go from the councils to the Speaker’s account? Whether they write one million stories, it is not true. I try to run away from unnecessary allegations. First and foremost, I mean the councils are in a very difficult position. Even the reporter didn’t have the temerity to call me to confirm the allegation. Ask the said reporter, he has my three numbers but he didn’t reach me over the issue” he said in Asaba.