MINISTER for Information and Communications Professor Dora Nkem Akunyili cannot ask anyone to investigate the non-delivery of equipment the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, ordered for the 2009 FIFA U/17 World Cup, which Nigeria hosted.

Only Mrs Akunyili can tell Nigerians what happened, unless she has forgotten her truculent defence of the contract, which many condemned last year.

There were solid grounds for condemning the contract – it could be inflated, renovation of the equipment from standard definition to solid definition was not possible, manufacturer’s cost for new equipment not renovation was cheaper, South Africa spent less for the World Cup, a bigger event and the equipment cannot arrive Nigeria in 2009. Mrs. Akunyili defended them, calling people names and pressing her records at NAFDAC as if that was the issue.

At the House of Representatives public hearing last Thursday she pursued her innocence instead of the issue is in line with her famous recourse to patriotism to obfuscate issues.

“Before the death of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua I had written a memo to him calling for a panel of inquiry into the matter because I have worked very hard in life to get to where I am and I don’t want anybody to tarnish my image,” Mrs. Akunyili said. Obviously, her image is more important than the loss of billions of Nigeria money.

On Saturday, 12 September 2009, Mrs. Akunyili made this posting on a website in defence of the contract.

“I did not in any way influence the contract; and I have nothing to do with the process by law. During the meeting with the WTS/SONY group, which eventually took in my office in the presence of a ministry staff, I raised the following points: (a) That the contract is time bound and therefore must be executed with dispatch and delivered on schedule. (b) Delay would not be entertained. I warned them not to give money to anybody, and that if anyone asks them for money, they should report to me. I added that I did not want this contract to become another Halliburton.

“People have done a lot of damage to the image of this country. Some writers even said that the South Africans OB vans cost N6.4 billion and that NTA wanted to refurbish six OB Vans with N6.8 billion. This is not true. First, I will like to clarify that the right figure for all projects is N8.9 billion. People got everything wrong about the contract. The NTA project is in four different areas.

The first area includes upgrading the six OB Vans. Second, is the upgrade of the International Broadcast Centre to high definition mode. This centre has well over 40 monitors, which are to be removed and installed with another set of equipment of high definition mode. In addition, there are four edit suites in place.

The third one is the upgrade of nine-metre satellite hub at the National Stadium, Abuja . And four, there will be an upgrade of the digital satellite news gathering vans. Before jumping into conclusion, we should find out what constitutes the contract in South Africa. Has anyone given an analysis of what they bought? What kind of cameras, how many cameras, what quality of cameras that they bought, are they remote control or with cable, what quality of microphones, what payment plan was in place, warranty period, maintenance agreement, staff training and other details. Are all their equipment powered by UPS and generators, as is the case with Nigeria ?

“If I was desperate to make easy money, I would have become a multibillionaire in my over 71/2 years as NAFDAC DG. Rather, I preferred to tread the part of incorruptibility for which I nearly lost my life.”

Mrs. Akunyili should be alarmed that a contract she defended so stridently failed. Nigerians know about her innocence – they want to know why the contract failed. She should tell us.

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