The attention of the Delta State Ministry of Information has been drawn to an August 8, 2013 post in Sahara Reporters entitled “Group Accuses Uduaghan of Using Phantom Companies, Cronies to Siphon Treasury”.
In this latest rehash of its arm chair stories, Sahara Reporters went a notch higher in the deceitful handling of the issues raised. First, it presented a story based on the alleged petition of a faceless and non-existent organization.
Secondly, although Sahara Reporters’ correspondent had sought the Commissioner for Information’s response, only the funding and execution of the Warri industrial Business Park and Oleri Leisure Park projects were raised. With no mention made of a “petition” and its dubious content when the correspondent met the Commissioner, it is obvious that Sahara Reporters was only executing a scripted hatchet job. If Sahara Reporters was engaged in a dispassionate and professional report, serious issues as the alleged use of “phantom companies” and “cronies” to siphon state funds would have been raised by the correspondent.
We are not surprised by Sahara Reporters’ disdain for fairness and professionalism given its track record on such matters. But given that it chose to unabashedly disparage honourable people and engage in its usual game of denial of what an administration has accomplished, we will restate the response to the only issues raised before the Commissioner for Information by Sahara Reporters.
Warri Industrial Business Park and Oleri Leisure Park projects
These are projects conceived by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON, Governor of Delta State, as the pivot for the transformation of the state and wean its economy from dependence on revenue from oil. They were both conceived under the Public Private partnership (PPP) model with the state only providing a clement environment for the private sector to drive the projects. Under the arrangement, the government is providing the basic infrastructure, especially good access roads to the sites.
Contrary to the false postulations of Sahara Reporters, both projects are very much on course. The sand filling of the site for the Oleri Leisure Park has been completed with actual construction by the companies that have keyed into the various components of the project scheduled to begin in September 2013.
Similarly, the foreign companies that have firmed up their investment in the Warri Industrial Business Park are the verge of moving to site. Dr. Uduaghan has been regularly inspecting the progress of work at both locations with the press always on his entourage given unfettered access to the project sites.
“Phantom companies” and “cronies”
If only Sahara Reporters had been consumed with the morbid desire to run down the Uduaghan administration, a routine check would have saved it from the embarrassment of peddling outright falsehood. The allusion to the alleged use of Alpha Consortium to acquire Ikoyi Hotel which later became Southern Sun is laughable. The sale of Ikoyi Hotel was executed before Dr. Uduaghan became governor and he absolutely has no stake in it.
To Sahara Reporters, linking some people who execute contracts as acquaintances of the governor proof that money is being siphoned. Delta State has one of the strictest contract evaluation and payments system anywhere and this largely accounts for the huge cut in waste and non-performing contracts. Sahara Reporters failed tragically to name any contract or payment made to “siphon” state funds.
Already, Don Parker has already denounced the report by Sahara Reporters, stating that as a responsible corporate body, it has never engaged in any unwholesome business practice. Don Parker noted that as a company with a track record on delivering on its contracts, all its business relationships with the Delta State government have successfully scaled through the hurdles of due process and blamed the allegations on its business rivals and their agents.
As stated earlier, we are not shocked by the progressively depressing level Sahara Reporters goes in its rabid but unsuccessful attempts to undermine the administration of Governor Uduaghan. Having found itself clutching straws, Sahara Reporters will convenient elect to ignore the massive renovation of schools and medical institutions, the child and maternal care programme nationally rated as the most comprehensive and effective, the reconstruction of many township roads in all crannies of the state, the successful small and micro-credit scheme that has midwife the establishment of over 100,000 businesses etc.
Our response to the serial mischief of Sahara Reporters is not to confer any air of respectability on its story. Just as we maintain our professionalism by acknowledging and responding to all enquiries from all media organizations, this exercise is to put the records straight and enable Nigerians, especially Deltans see the jaundiced and armchair journalism practiced by Sahara Reporters.
The job of maintaining security in Delta State is being undertaken with utmost responsibility and seriousness. Security is not an issue for idle discussion and debate, suffice it to add that given the challenge of curbing oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other economic crimes, Governor Uduaghan has judiciously deployed state resources to ensure the prevailing high level of security in Delta State.
CHIKE C. OGEAH Esq
Delta State Commissioner for Information