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21 Years of Information Services in Akwa Ibom
29 Oct 2008: Blessing Ufot Urua

Looking back to when Akwa Ibom was created in 1987, a lot has happened in the Information Sector under the leadership of various Military and Civilian administrations.

At creation in September 1987, Akwa Ibom inherited some staff of the Cross River State Ministry of Information, who were her indigenes. Among them were some tested information officers such as Mr Martin Usenekong, Mr. Albert Ibanga, Mr. Enefiok Akwaowo, Mr Nsimo Akanimo, Victor Ekpo, Mathias Udosen, Late Michael Udosen, just to mention a few. There were also notable photographers, graphic artists, cameramen, film editors and other professionals that came back from Cross River State. Names like: Late E.W. Ekanem (Space), U.J. Ekpo, Blaise Udoh, Bassey Oko, Ekong Ansa, Gideon Edem, S. I. Akpan and Edet Ekpenyong easily come to mind.

As at State creation, Akwa Ibom had a Ministry of Information with a Film Unit, Publications Unit as well as the Technical Services Unit. The pioneer Commissioner for Information was Mr. Moses Ekpo while Mr. Martin Usenekong was the first Director of Information.

Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Information started operating at No. 1 Uruan Street, while the Information Directorate was situated at No 1 5 Barracks Road, now renamed Wellington Bassey way, Uyo. In addition, the Ministry had divisional offices in the former 10 local government areas of the State, namely Uyo, Abak, Ukanafun, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi, Oron, Eket, Ikono, Itu and Etinan. These were well equipped and manned by senior and experienced information officers.

Also, Akwa Ibom State at creation inherited the former Cross River State Television, Uyo as well as the former Cross River Broadcasting Corporation station at Abak. Late Nsobom John Ekwere was the pioneer Director General of the Cross River Television which metamorphosed into Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, merging both the television and radio services.

In April 1988, the Edict No. 4 which established the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Coporation, AKBC was promulgated by Col. Tunde Ogbeha during the tenure of Mr. Moses Ekpo as commissioner of information. The then Akwa Ibom Newspaper Ltd, the State owned newspaper outfit, commenced the publication of its title - The Pioneer, which maiden edition was formally launched on Arpil 10, 1988 at Qua River Hotel, Eket.

By 1991, under the leadership of Wing Commander Idongesit Nkanga, the AKBC F.M. Stereo 90.5 mega hertz was commissioned by the then President dbrahim Badamosi Babangida with the transmitting station at Ntak Inyang. Dr Jackson D. Etuk was then the commissioner of information.

From creation of the State, the following have served as commissioners of information or special advisers. They are:

Mr. Moses Ekpo

September 1987 - January 1989

Mrs Affiong Abasiatai

January 1989

Dr. Jackon D. Etuk

22nd Feb, 1990

Obonganwan Rita Akpan

10th February, 1992

Obong A. R. Akpan

27th August, 1993

Chief (Dr) Esin B. Nkereuwem

4th March, 1994

Mr. Okon Nsabasi

31 st January 1994

Mr. Sunday Ekpo

28th April, 1995

Christy Obot (Mrs)

29th January 1997

Mr. Gordon Etop Idung

10th June, 1999

Mr. Chris Abasi Eyo

20th July, 2000

Engr . Ita Awak

3rd July, 2002

Engr . Patrick Ekpotu

4th August, 2003

Mr. Parchi Umoh

Jan. 31,2005

Mr. Census A. Ekpu

6th August, 2007

Mr. Aniekan J. Umanah

July 8, 2008 (Current)

In the same vein, the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) benefited from the services of Dr. Mbuk Mboho as General Manager when Rev. Father Francis Mbaba was Director, Radio Service and Obong Nse Ebong, Director, Television service. Dr Mboho was later succeeded by Engr Ini Usen. Thereafter, Ms Mercy Otu took over the headship of the broadcast house. During her tenure, the position of general manager was later dropped and the new nomenclature, Director General, was introduced, the current Director General, Pastor Praise Okon, took over on August 28, 2007 when Mr. Census Ekpu was commissioner of information and social re­orientation, In the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC, Mr. (now Dr) Etim Anim, started as the Executive Editor with Late Mr. Okon William Akpan as Associate Editor In 1989, Mr Akpan took over from Anim as General Manager/ Editor-In- Chief. He was succeeded by Mr. Anietie Usen in 1993 while Deaconess Ekaette Ekpo in turn succeeded him in 1997. On August 28 ,2007, Mr Ikpong Essien-Udom took over from Deaconess Ekpo as Acting General Manager/Editor-1n-Chief. He acted till September 17, 2007 when the current General Manager/Editor-In-Chief, Mr Udo Silas, was appointed.

Similarly, The Pioneer newspaper has produced notable editors such as Etim Anim, Late Okon William Akpan, Nnamso Umoren, Late Ebenezer Udoeyop, Obiota Ekanem, Nduehidem Eshiet, Etop Williams and Ikpong Essien-Udom. Friday Udo is now the Acting Editor while Margaret Edem is the Weekend Editor

With regard to the State Ministry of Information, Mr Martin Usenekong and Mr. Albert Ibanga have served as directors of information. In 2007 Mr. Victor Ekpo took over as director of information at the retirement of Mr Ibanga from the Civil Service.

The role of these professionals in Information delivery in the State cannot be ignored. Mr. Nnamso Umoren will specially be remembered as a journalist who has served as an Editor of The Pioneer, a Press Secretary to a Military Administrator, Director of Publicity in the Government House as well as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Social Re­orientation. The electronic and print media are quite vibrant in the State, providing information, education and entertainment for the people.

Over the years, several private newspapers and magazines have come on stream. Some have stayed afloat while others have been swept away by the tide of life. Private newspapers in the State include The Union, The Sensor, Global Newstrend, Update, Akwa Pride, Insight Weekly and Independent Platform, among others. The magazines include Echoes, Rainbow, The Showcase and Blueprint.

Similarly, there are also offices of various national and regional newspapers in Akwa Ibom The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria FRCN, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) channel 12, Uyo all contribute effectively to the dissemination of information in the State. These media houses complement the            Information Services provided by the State Ministry of Information as well as the Government house Press Corps of the Governors Office

The Ministry of Information and Social Re- orientation currently with Mr. Aniekan Umanah as the Commissioner and Sir Raphael ,Edem as Permanent Secretary, is saddled with various responsibilities. These Include:

( i) publicity and information services on government activities.

(ii) Coverage of government activities for dissemination through issuance of news bulletins and video for the print and electronic media.

(iii) Research and collection of information for public consumption and production of periodic publications on all aspects of public services of the State.

(iv) Government public relations and Image Management.  

(v) Liaison with the media - print and electronic to ensure the development of healthy journalism practice in the State.

(vi) Ethical re-orientation

In addition to the provision of information services, the State Ministry of Information and Social Re-orientation is also concerned with branding and rebranding Akwa Ibom as a means of marketing the State's abundant human and natural resources.

The Ministry is a Service Ministry. It operates in conjunction with the print and electronic media organizations in the State providing publicity on all government and private sector activities, projects and programmes. Media relation has become a top management function in the Ministry. Consequently, the mass media organisations in the State have been carried along as major stakeholders in the creation of a positive image for the government and people, projecting the State's numerous resources and mobilizing people and Institutions to support government policies, projects and programmes.

In order to keep everyone abreast with global development, a State website has been reinvented and is being regularly updated. The Ministry provides Information on all aspects of the state on the website for public consumption. the Ministry sends out stories, features and photographs on the State to local, national and international press to keep the public informed about developments in the State.

The Ministry of Information and Social Re- orientation is concerned with projecting and protecting the Image of Akwa Ibom. Therefore, it operates an open door policy to all its clients and stakeholders. The policies, activities and programmes of the Ministry are being pursued with vigour. It is envisaged that with hardwork, commitment and loyalty the Ministry with its Parastatals will consolidate on the gains made so far for the over all development of Akwa Ibom State.

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