Mr. Orubebe has been inundated with allegations of corruptions.
Akwa Ibom based journalists on Friday opted out of a planned tour of some projects the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs claims it executed in the state.
Members of the Akwa Ibom State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, led by its Chairman, Joe Effiong, said that the decision to opt out followed the inability of the organisers to avail its members “proper details on logistics and philosophy” of the tour.
Mr. Effiong said in a statement in Uyo titled: “Mysterious Tour of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs Projects By “Journalists”, that though the Vice President of the NUJ, Zone F, Seyiefa Uzaka, had two weeks ago contacted him and the Secretary of the State Council, Joseph Robert, to proceed to Warri to join others for the tour, he was not forthcoming with details.
He said all efforts to get all the details proved futile till on Friday when his attention was drawn to the presence of a horde of journalists from the South-South Zone in the State purportedly on tour of Niger Delta projects with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
The NUJ Chairman said that to his dismay, the union in the state observed that there was no representation from the state in the visiting team. The visit is expected to end with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, addressing the “press” on their findings.
“We never knew till today (Friday) whether it was an NUJ event, or a consultancy event latched on the pedestal of NUJ.
“We were still waiting for more details from the Vice President or the Secretary of the Zone, only to be told by the leaderships of NUJ in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States, that the tour had begun, and that they too had backed out due to how its arrangement was shrouded in mystery,” Mr. Effiong said in his statement to PREMIUM TIMES.
The Chairman described the tour of Niger Delta projects at this time as “very curious” and “a mysterious jamboree”. He wondered what would be said about the Akwa Ibom section of the East-West Road, particularly between Eket and Oron, which has since been abandoned, while the contractors have refused to pay about N2.3 billion compensation to owners of property destroyed along the construction route.
“The NUJ Akwa Ibom State Council dissociates itself and its membership from this so-called tour of projects, which is nothing but a grand distraction from the premeditated design to perpetually emasculate Akwa Ibom people and rob them of any benefits accruable to the people of the Zone by some others who feel they are the beginning and end of Niger Delta,” the council said.
The association announced that journalists in the Akwa Ibom would soon embark on an independent tour of projects executed in the state by both the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, at the end of which they would publish a comprehensive report to show how fair the two bodies have been to Akwa Ibom, which is acknowledged as the highest producer of crude oil in the country.
The Akwa Ibom NUJ said it would deploy all constitutional and moral strengths at its disposal to resist being ridiculed by the South South zone of the group.
Recently, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has been inundated with a swarm of allegations of corruption, particularly in the execution of contracts in different parts of the region, which some other agencies of government, including state governments also claim responsibility for executing.
Late last year, a civil society group, Anti-Corruption Network, led by a former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, accused the Ministry of committing N29 billion fraud in the execution of three non- existing projects in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The controversial projects include the canalisation/river training of Foupolo-Bolou Ndoro Creek; the canalisation at Odoubou, Ogbabagbene; and the land reclamation/shoreline protection project at Ogbabagbene, all in Burutu Local Government Area.
Rattled by the allegations, Mr. Orubebe, along with the Special Adviser to the President on Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Sylvester Monye, sponsored some journalists to visit the area and come back with favourable reports about the projects in a bid to discredit the anti-corruption group.
With the head of the different government ministries, departments and agencies currently presenting their annual performance evaluation reports to the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, it was gathered that Mr. Orubebe is desperate to use the media to create a positive image for his ministry
It was gathered that the hurriedly arranged tour of projects in the Niger Delta region by top ministry officials was designed to help manufacture reports that would ostensibly validate claims of achievement to justify the huge budgetary disbursements for projects.
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