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Appoint minister of information Mr President

Mar 15, 2012, 12:58 PM

We are calling on the President of The Republic to appoint a new minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) or clarify whether the portfolio is now under the Office of the President.

It is our view that such a government ministry is too important to be left vacant for too long, as is happening.

Definitely, the position is very crucial for both the government and the country’s media.

For instance, the Information ministryis responsible for the news media such as GRTS and the newspapers and radio stations in the country.

Indeed, for the news and information media, it is our line ministry even though, of recent, it has not been as helpful to the media as it should be.

The Communication Infrastructure side of the ministry refers to its responsibility for the telecommunications services such as Gamtel and GSM companies such as Gamcel and Africell, all of which come under the purvey of MOICI.

This shows how vital this ministry is!

The information and communication media have a vital role in national development, especially in promoting an informed citizenry and in creating an open society.

It is our humble view that whoever is appointed minister of Information by the President, must be someone who is qualified to handle the position, as required by the constitution.

He or she should be familiar with the field, loves the work of the media and is not only articulate, but willing to communicate with people at all times. The person and the office should be also accessible.

In fact, in some countries, the minister of Information doubles as Government Spokesperson.

This could also happen in The Gambia, so that he/she is responsible for government communication with the population, as well as the international community.

It will be the job of this person to liaise with the news and information media in selling the governmnet’s policies, programmes and development agenda.

The minister of Information must also be proactive in responding to matters which require the government to come out and provide information to clarify issues.

This minister must be accessible to the media fraternity, by maintaining an open door policy to all media houses in the country, and give them the information they need or assist them to access this information from the government.

We want to get away from the era of making do with information from secondary sources, when the primary government source is there for us to hear from.

Information, we all know, could get distorted along the transmission process; thus the need to get it from the horses mouth, preferably.

Along with this call for the appointment of a minister for our sector, we want to remind, once again, the government of the need to revisit the media laws in the country.

The new government, with a fresh mandate, should be prepared to amend and repeal the media laws, and to copy best practice in this area, as seen in countries such as Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana.

For example, there is no doubt that Gambians would love to see the day when media in this country, both private radio stations and the public media, engage in the interesting, diverse and captivating programming; the sort they enjoy on radio and tv services coming from across the frontier.

Indeed, the mass media in this country should be encouraged to play its part effectively in promoting respect for human rights, freedom, democracy and rule of law – in short, good governance, which is a mandate given them by the constitution.