By Michael Asuquo Ekpo
– NUJ Members Insist He Must Go
The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah has been accused by the state chapter of the Nigerian Nigerian Union of Journalist of using public fund for bribery and building formidable edifice across the state. Based on this his corrupt mien it was agreed that the group pass a vote of no confidence on the Commisioner Umanah without further delay.
It was authoritatively gathered Mr Umanah summoned a meeting which which was attended by the NUJ State Chairman Mr Joe Effiong and Emmanuel Efiong the Federated Chapel Chairman were at the meeting given large sums of money by the Commissioner who persuaded the duo to ensure that the vote of no confidence that was earlier scheduled to be passed on him were scuttled.
The Union of journalists is proposing a vote of no confidence on Mr Aniekan Umanah because of what the pen professionals call his “numerous atrocities” of defrauding the local media of their advert fees-collecting hundreds of thousands from government and paying only fifty thousand naira to them on full page advertorial. Mr Umana’s other crimes include being in the habit of collecting millions of naira from the State government, using the names of the NUJ and Federated Chapel without ever remitting any to those organisations.
The sins of Aniekan Umanah are so many that the Union members also complained about the sacking of his Special Assistant on media Mr Ndueso Essien as a clear evidence of victimization , that the accusation of the Commissioner laid against Ndueso shows that the commissioner is anti government in the government he works for. Aniekan Umanah has also been frustrating the State government Newspaper-The Pioneer Newspapers-a parastatal under his Ministry simply because the Governor had earlier rejected his (Umanah’s) candidate; so he is doing everything to humiliate the present General Manager in the person of Udo Silas who is not his tribe man.
With all these the Union wants the State Governor to remove Mr Aniekan Umanah from Office. But he, (Umanah) got the tip off rushed into bribing the duo with millions of Naira And when the rest of the members heard about the bribe inducement on their Executives, they are now boiling for war that the Commissioner of information must be removed from office, that he is a fraudster, not caring about the local media.
Mr Umanah is currently using the millions he has been collecting from the government on behalf of the Union in building three palatial houses simultaneously in Abak, Osongama and Shelter Afrigue extension in Mbiabong Etoi, after he had completed his mansions in Shelter Afrigue and Abuja. It is also known that Aniekan Umanah is nursing a House of Representatives ambition and has been spending a lot of money on his constituent who before now hated him with a passion.
Some of the correspondent chapel members also accused Mr Aniekan Umanah of owing their media houses millions of Naira without paying for years and anytime they go to him for their funds , he always molests them and uses his police security to throw them out of his office. And the NUJ members have sworn that should the duo of Joe Effiung and Emmanuel Effiong deviate from the earlier agreement of passing a vote of no confidence on the Commissioner they will sack their executives and petition the Commissioner before the EFCC , Code of Conduct Bureau, State Government and other relevant authorities.In the meantime,journalists in Akwa Ibom State are challenging the state government to change its character towards reporters in order to be assured of effective coverage of state functions. The newsmen raised the motion, weekend at the end of an emergency meeting of the State Executive Council, SEC, of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Akwa Ibom State Council in which issues of welfare of members and promotion of effective practice in the state were considered.
Apparently piqued by what it considered as ugly acts of harassing and barring journalists from venues of state functions, the union threatened to stop further coverage of government functions if things do not change for the better. In a resolution signed by the 29 members of the SEC, the union recalled that during State Government/NLC stakeholders meeting, the Guild of Editors of Nigeria’s Conference and lately during the President’s visit, journalists were treated with derision.
“The Union strongly condemns the ugly acts of harassing and barring of journalists from venues of state events, and locking out of journalists from the Government House by security operatives”.
“The over-zealousness exhibited by some security operatives at state events is unreasonable and counter-productive as the press is not a security threat but has a sacred duty of purveying information for public good”, they stressed.
The union urged the state government to urgently intervene in the abnormal situation by calling security operatives to order, as the newsmen added that “henceforth, if the press is treated with such ignominy experienced in the recent past, the press community in the state will be left with no other option than resort to total boycott of all government events”. On the management of information in the state, the union expressed worry that government media managers especially the Commissioner of Information, Mr Aniekan Umanah has sidelined correspondents of national newspapers by dealing directly with their head offices in the placement of news and advertorials.
“The union is deeply concerned that since the inception of the present administration over five years ago, the leadership of NUJ in the state has not been allowed access to Governor” the union noted. The newsmen are also bothered about the delay in having an interactive session with the Governor, months after his second term, blaming its information managers. “It is appalling that two years after members of the union have been repeatedly informed in public by government media managers that the construction of the Information Drive will commence in earnest, nothing has been done about the road.
The union is deeply concerned that 25 years after the creation of the state, the corporate headquarters of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, AKBC, a major state media organ is still sitting in a rented building which can scarcely afford enough accommodation for state”, NUJ added”.
Accordingly, the pressmen proposed that the state government should construct the information drive, the road leading to major information units in the state, and also construct a permanent corporate headquarters for the AKBC.