The decision taken by the Council of Ministers to form a committee to enlighten the South Sudanese people is the right step taken to break the ice surrounding the cooperation agreement between the Sudan and South Sudan.
Enlightenment should have been one of the means to keep the people of the impending agreements informed as the talks progressed. Understandably from the initial stage of negotiations since the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2046 was passed there was dire need to keep the South Sudan populace informed by the local media not only through the international media news outlets such as the powerful agencies like Reuters, Associated Press and others and radio stations like the BBC and television stations like Al Jazeera as it had been the case.
The Sudanese press had been keeping a permanent group of correspondents in Addis Ababa for the coverage of the events. Even when the talks were in camera from time to time the heads of the two delegations or their spokespersons had been holding press conferences or issuing statements about progress of the talks. What was ostensible was the absence of the South Sudanese media in Addis Ababa as if what was being discussed in the meeting halls of the African Union building did not concern them. Yet that was not the case.
Every South Sudan was eager to follow the progress of the talks especially through their own news channels like the SSTV, the South Sudan Radio, The Citizen newspaper and the many FM radio stations. Had we been informed from the onset, by the time the cooperation agreement came out we would have been aware of its articles and the avalanche of negative reaction witnessed from some quarters would not have arisen. Enlightenment of South Sudanese populace would have taken different approaches.
One of them would have been the head of the delegation should have been briefing the heads of the news media of South Sudan periodically to keep them abreast of the talks as it is the case with this kind of talks worldwide. Now that the agreement has been signed, it is not too late to enlighten the citizens about its terms since they are yet to be implemented. So the high level committee has a big national responsibility assigned to it to carry out.
It has to formulate a relevant programme that would educate the citizens about the border and oil issue deal signed with Sudan on 27 September, 2012. Although the Minister of Information and Broadcasting who is also government spokesperson said the programme will target government officials as well as the civil population, our President who is known for his wisdom on important national issues should call for a governors' meeting for through the ten governors enlightenment in the states can go even faster than through the top level committee. The governors on their parts after the presidential briefing can address the legislative assemblies in their respective capitals and the intended enlightenment would widen.
It is surprising that the media institutions did not have copies of the cooperation agreement for publication. Printing the articles on the pages could also help in the enlightenment drive. It is good that the Minister of Information whose institution is supposed to render enlightenment service to the public has realized that the strategic objectives of the deal have been misunderstood by many and that the government has decided to have a select committee to educate the citizens on the agreements since some citizens have sprung up as critics to the agreement.
One of the causes of such dispirited action was lack of information to the public from the beginning.