Lawmakers in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have observed that only few of their colleagues enjoy coverage by the Speaker’s accredited photographer during plenary sessions, while others are usually left out with impunity.
At a media parley with media aides to the lawmakers, on Monday, Hon Jerry Otu, the chairman of the House Commitee on Information and his colleagues in the commitee vowed that the would no longer tolerate a situation where they would attend plenary seasons but would be omitted in the photographs accompanying social media reports of activities of the House.
“Some of our aides find it difficult to get pictures from the Speaker’s photographer. We will watch, maybe for few months, and we will tell Mr Speaker that all of us will come with our photographers. Please, correct this anomaly or else you’ll set this House into a serious commotion”, Rt. Hon. Mfon Idung of Etim Ekpo state constituency said, shortly after he ordered Nora Inwang, a journalist, to leave the meeting for “laughing while the commitee chairman was addressing the issue”.
Jerry Otu, the commitee chairman, who expressed dissatisfaction with the situation, alos ordered that the 26 members and their photographs should be posted on social media after every plenary, not minding whether they made contributions or not.
“Anything that leaves the House of Assembly must be cleared by the Chairman, which is me. Don’t send anything to the public and you come and tell us it was a mistake.
“If you were doing that in the other assembly, please don’t do it in this one. We take a great exception, and we will not tolerate it. Don’t make it look as if others are coming here to joke”
Members of the House Commitee on Information who attended the meeting include Bassey Pius Bassey (Okobo), Mrs Kenim Onofiok (Oron/Udung Uko), Mfon Idung (Etim Ekpo), Selina Ukpatu (Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo), Udobia Udo (Esit Eket/Ibeno), Moses Essien (Ibiono Ibom), and Uduak Ekpo-Uffot (Etinan), and Lawrence Udoide of Ini state constituency.
Apart from Moses Essien, who was somewhat appreciative of the the media aides to the lawmakers, others such as Udoide, Ukpatu, and Udobia boasted that their popularity within their respective constituencies would not be affected, irrespective of low coverage by the Speaker’s photographers.
Udobia specifically said, “I have the capacity to go to the Voice of America and do my media matters there, if I want to. I can go to the BBC and do a session if I like, and I have the capacity to pay for it and it will go worldwide. So, whether you cover me or not, it won’t change anything”.
Elder Emmanuel Ebong, the press secretary to the Speaker, who was at the meeting, told the lawmakers that no one was deliberately omitted from coverage, contrary to speculations by the committee members.