Facts versus fiction
Exposing campaigns of lies against Hon. Umana Okon Umana, Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government
In recent weeks there have been orchestrated campaigns of lies in some publications by the political opposition against high officials of the state government in a deliberate effort to mislead and hoodwink the public on important issues of development in the state. The traducers have targeted the top officials of the State Government including my humble self, Secretary to the State Government. Initially, because of the ridiculous nature of the allegations, we did not deem it necessary to dignify the false publications with a response, preferring instead to concentrate on the onerous task of building a state we all can be proud of. But the danger in allowing the political opposition to carry on unchallenged is that falsehood repeated often enough without contest soon assumes the credibility of the truth. This is why I have taken the decision to show that those who are behind these campaigns are liars. Their lies must be shot down with cold, verifiable facts. FACTS are sacred, but these false campaigners have no respect for the sanctity of the truth nor regard for the people they try so desperately to mislead.
We must oppose their lies with facts as set out below:
1. Ownership of ongoing and completed projects in the state: My political opponents allege that I own many of the ongoing and completed projects in the state such as the Ibom Power Plant, Ibom l’Merdien Hotel, Akwa Ibom Airport, the Science Park, etc. This allegation is completely false and laughable. The projects cited are assets of the state government which were adequately documented in the handing over notes from the previous government to the current state administration. The projects are still being funded by government. Recently government set up an implementation committee for some of these projects that are not yet completed. For the Akwa Ibom Airport project the Implementation Committee is headed by Idongesit Nkanga, former governor of the state. Government also recently dissolved the board of the Ibom Power Plant. If these projects are privately owned assets, why would government be funding and administering them? Those faceless fiction writers who claim that these projects are mine have a burden of proof to discharge. They must come up with evidence to prove the allegation that I own these assets or keep quiet forever.
2. $80 million refund by Federal Government on Independent Power Plant: The claim that the $80 million reimbursement to the state government by the federal government on the independent power project had disappeared is wild and baseless. This kind of wild claim is a product of ignorance of how government business works. The money was paid to the state government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It was not paid into an individual account. So how would an individual disappear with the money? Following the crediting of the state account by the CBN with the $80 million, the state government used part of the money to refinance the N20 billion loan granted by the UBA for the building of the power project. The loan had been guaranteed by the state government. Part of the refund was also used to pay contractors who had interim payment certificates in the treasury based on the approval of the former governor, Obong Victor Attah. As the commissioner for finance, I was not a signatory to any of the accounts of the state government. I also had no powers to approve capital expenditure.
Therefore the allegation that I was personally responsible for the disappearance of the $80 million refund by the federal government is another wild, false and malicious allegation. For the avoidance of doubt, the $80 million did not disappear as it was paid through the CBN into the designated state government account.
3. Sale of shares in Vmobile: They also alleged that the proceeds realised from the sale of the state government’s stake in Vmobile (Celtel) had also disappeared. This is equally false and baseless. Where is the evidence to support this allegation? The fact is that the proceeds of the sale were provided for in the 2006 budget as capital receipts. Once the sale was effected the proceeds were domiciled in the designated state government account and subsequently used to pay contractors handling major projects for the state on the instruction and approval of the former state governor. It is instructive that those who have made this false, unsubstantiated and ridiculous allegation have chosen to be faceless even as they continue to smear innocent public officials with impunity.
4. Powers of Approval: As commissioner for finance in the last administration I was neither a signatory to the state government accounts nor did I have the powers to approve and authorise payment from state accounts. I could therefore not have signed out any funds from the state accounts. Whatever payment was effected by the treasury was approved by the governor.
5. State economy: Among the claims of the political opposition is that the state economy is crippled and that I contributed immensely to the sick state of the state economy. This is another bland, sophomoric statement by people who have no regard for facts. Where are the indicators of a crippled economy? A state that is financing its capital projects adequately and meeting its recurrent expenditure as and when due cannot be said to be crippled. They apparently do not know the facts, or have chosen as is their nature to take liberty with the truth.
6. SSG in control of all juicy ministries: The commissioners are chief executives and political heads of their ministries and report directly to His Excellency, the Governor. The SSG serves as the Secretary of the State Executive Council and coordinates the activities and programmes of government on the directive of His Excellency, the Governor. Therefore their allegation that the SSG controls juicy ministries is not only ridiculous, but it is also baseless.
7. Personal portfolio and other assets: Another fiction is that I own AEC Works Limited. AEC Works Limited was incorporated in 1999, several years before my appointment as Commissioner for Finance. I am neither a shareholder nor a director in this privately owned company which has the constitutional right like any other company in Nigeria to engage in lawful business. These facts can be verified at the Corporate Affairs Commission. As for my personal worth about which my opponents have made all kinds of unfounded claims, I would like to say that I have declared my assets and liabilities and the records of what I own and owe have been duly filed with the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law. The other reckless lies and insults on my person by these faceless persons are not worthy of my comments and response.
8. Motive: It is important to query the motive of those who are behind the smear campaign against me and the state government. It is all politics. Those who are behind this are ethnic warlords who have no place in the new Akwa Ibom under the able leadership of His Excellency, Governor Godswill Akpabio. These ethnic jingoists are unable to adjust to the new reality that under Governor Akpabio appointments and the distribution of projects are not dictated by ethnic and sectional considerations. In their desperation to play the ethnic card they have conveniently forgotten that the mandate freely given by the people of Akwa Ibom to Governor Akpabio was devoid of ethnic sentiments. These selfish ethnic warlords are once again out to fan the embers of disunity. There are also some selfish but ambitious politicians with questionable credentials who feel threatened by the enormous goodwill earned by the Governor Akpabio Administration within and outside Akwa Ibom State through massive investments in people oriented programmes. They are confounded by the unprecedented impact made in only 10 months by this administration in the areas of road infrastructure, education, health etc. They are desperate and are now fighting dirty. They do not have the interest of Akwa Ibom people at heart. They are hoping to distract the state administration with their frivolous and malicious campaign of lies. But they will fail as they had in the past. God cannot be mocked.
Hon. Umana Okon Umana
Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government
DISCLAIMER: THIS DOES NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF POINTBLANKNEWS.COM