*We’ll reconcile grey areas- Commissioner
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
AKWA Ibom State government appear to have abandoned the Rotary Press worth $1.5million which was installed under the Governor Godswill Akpabio led-administration.
The Press which consists of a Supra Setter A105 and a Goss Community Press with a web offset Press, was supposed to be operated by Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), publishers of the government-owned Newspaper, ‘The Pioneer’
But according to findings the complex housing the machines has remained locked since the Press was commissioned by Godswill Akpabio on May 28, 2015.
The machines installed according investigation were not tested, and did not print any copy of the Pioneer Newspaper on the day it was test-run by the experts brought in to manage the Press.
When contacted, the former General Manager of ‘The Pioneer Newspaper, Mr Udo Silas explained: “The press was never used to print the Pioneer Newspaper in my time. No Pioneer staff under my watch went for training anywhere to master the workings of the Press.
We did not receive the press.
” It was a deliberate decision not to receive it as the procedural processes were not done or seen to be done. For example, the checklist to ascertain that what the government paid for, are what were sent by the manufacturers was not done.
“It would therefore have been against civil service procedure to sign a Stores Receipt Voucher (SRV). So unless this was done after I left service, the Press remained under the administration of the supervising Ministry”
Also contacted, the Production Manager of Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC)
Mr Idorenyin Umoren, said he was one of the members of the Rotary Press Pre-shipment Inspection Committee announced by state government to visit Goss Community Press Company in Germany.
Umoren who stressed that the committee however was not inaugurated and the inspection to the Gods Community Press Company in Germany, Hieldelberg, never happened, said they were only informed that the machines had arrived Uyo through Onne in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and they went and received them.
On his part, Mr Patrick Usen, the Consultant who handled the project blamed the Ministry of Information and Strategy for the failure, saying:”Governor Godswill Akpabio had excellent intentions for the State and Pioneer Newspaper in particular.
” Unfortunately, the Ministry of Information truncated that project. They should be held responsible. I don’t know where this enquiry will end, but I think that a Commission of Enquiry should be set up to probe the issue.
“That web offset press has not been received till today by Pioneer Newspaper. That is, it has not been officially handed over to Pioneer by Goss Graphics because of the haphazard installation procedures. There was no adherence to good engineering practice of installation.
“They hurriedly put that up together and called the Governor. And I think the machine collapsed and failed there. There was no ink, no rolling papers, no printing plate needed to print for the Governor to see. All those things were not there, and the machine collapsed that day,”
Use, however warned that the Supra Setter A105 (Computer To Plate) machine may have to be upgraded as it may have outlived its lifespan of six years while lying idle.
Unfortunately efforts to get the reaction of Mr Aniekan Umana, the then Commissioner for Information who supervised the whole process was not successful as he neither responded to calls nor text messages sent to his phone.
But responding, Mr. Ini Ememobong, who is currently the for Information and Strategy said when he came into the office he visited the facility and commissioned an enquiry into the issues surrounding the Press.
“We are working to reconcile all grey areas. In line with the Governor’s determination to continue to achieve result in a most cost effective way, we have to open up the business to private investors who would come and manage the press.
“Many have indicated interest and we are still considering the options. I assure you that before the exit of this administration, the press will be taken over for proper management” Ememobong asserted.