Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, has advised journalists in the state to be objective in their practice, and shun reports capable of portraying the state and its leaders in a bad light.
Mr Emmanuel gave the advice on Monday during his state-wide broadcast to mark the 32nd anniversary of the creation of the state.
Mr Emmanuel said he welcomed criticism, but that it should be done in a way to add value to the society.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to certain elements in our society, especially those in the mass media, to understand the need for circumspection and objectivity in their reportage,” the governor said in his broadcast.
“Robust criticism is a needed ingredient in any democratic culture and I desire to be criticised constructively. But when such criticism is laden with animosity and deep-seated animus; when such is done not to add value to who we are, or our common values; when such is done to destroy the essential fabric of our unity and further enlarge the manufactured fault lines; when such criticism is done to further the narrow thoughts and interests of certain individuals who may not agree with what we are doing, I think something is fundamentally wrong with such layers of reportage.
“Have we ever wondered why the South-West, for instance, with its vibrant media and robust people-government engagements never de-markets the critical layers of their collective essence and identity?
“How many times have you read in the mass media where the leaders of the other geo-political zones are openly derided, castigated, blackmailed or their zones de-marketed? Does it mean they don’t disagree with their leaders or government policies?
“They do, but they understand the fact that if they de-market their states or insult their leaders at random, they are essentially defining downwards the core and elemental values of their collective identity.”
Governor Emmanuel appealed for respect for the “common values” of Akwa Ibom.
He said those who disagree with leaders should do so “with civility and mutual respect” because “what binds us together is more enduring than the temporary impulse of partisan politics”.
“The Akwa Ibom story should be pan-Akwa Ibom in shape and definition, devoid of the colours of partisanship or rancorous impulses,” he said.
There are more than 80 local newspapers in Akwa Ibom, with journalists sometimes coming under attack by state officials.
A journalist was recently thrown into jail for two nights for taking photos of some state task force officials who raided a shop.
PREMIUM TIMES asked the spokesperson to Mr Emmanuel, Ekerete Udoh, what the governor really meant when he said journalists were “de-marketing” the state.
“Ibom Air was defined by a section of the media as a fraud, all the road networks that the government has constructed, and some of them commissioned, was described as a fraud, the metering factory was described as a fraud, Mr Udoh replied.
“And our leaders are being described in unsanitised manner, you have seen the kind of insults being heaped on the leaders in the state.”