By Our Correspondents
“The allegations against the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, by some disgruntle and mischievous elements in the state published in one of the online media outfits are unfounded and not true.”
This was contained in a release signed by Chief Okonkwor Nicholas, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Delta State, and made available to journalists, stressing that it has a political undertone.
According to Okonkwor Nicholas, the authors of the report who alleged that Patrick Ukah claimed in the documents he submitted to the Delta State Transition Committee that he bought eight cameras for DBS Asaba and Warri for over N18m could not be bold to tell the Delta State Online Publishers how much he expended on the two stations when he appeared as a special guest on the publishers programme tagged: “Frontline” was not correct.
To put the records straight, Nicholas said, there was never a time such question was raised or asked by the publishers which the commissioner declined comment and there was never a time before the arrival of the commissioner that a passionate appeal was made to members of the online publishers not to be hard on Patrick Ukah with critical questions during the interactive session as claimed by the perpetrators of the report.
He revealed that the Chairman of Online Publishers, Emmanuel Enebeli, had earlier described the allegations as falsehood and untrue, adding that there was never a time members of his association were appealed to not to be hard on the Commissioner for explanation on how much he has expended on DBS Asaba and Warri.
He further noted that the authors of the stories were trying to malign the good image of Patrick Ukah which he has built for long.
Okonkwor Nicholas argued that whether Latimore and Head of Service came on live programme in DBS Asaba but could not come up on air due to some circumstances and the TV station could not be powered was not the fault of the Commissioner because service providers like MTN, Airtel and GLO communication face challenges or technical faults which we have experienced at one time or the other when we tried to make use of our mobile phones.
He also further disclosed that there are procedures in handling issues as regard to governance.
The release contained that the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, nor the Chairman of the Transition Committee summoned the Commissioner for explanation on the issue because the facts are not correct.
“Nobody has written a petition against the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, for alleged involvement in falsification of figures or document,” said Nicholas.
He said that the freedom of information Bill stipulated that for individuals or companies to have possession of public documents they are to write officially to the authority involved, but the perpetrators of the report failed to do this because of their selfish interests.
He maintained that if the commissioner had earlier submitted a handover note to the transition committee and discovered there was error in the document, he has every right to withdraw it because he is not under any law not to retrieve it and make amendments.
Chief Okonkwor Nicholas pointed that when the Commissioners for Women Affairs, Economic Planning and Finance during a press briefing discovered that the documents made available to journalists had errors, they quickly pleaded for amendment.
Also, same was applicable to the former Provost, Federal College of Education Technical, Asaba, Dr, Ignatius Nwanze Ezoem after he had released documents to journalists during a press conference, he pleaded that the documents should be withdrawn and corrections were made.
He said: “I see no reason why the commissioner should be castigated for an error discovered in a document submitted.”
He however stressed that there is no way the commissioner will be ignorant to have awarded contracts to a company or contractor that has no trace of address.
He expressed satisfaction with the level of achievements recorded in the management of information and contributions in sports development by Patrick Ukah in Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration.
He continued: “Among the media aides of Governor Okowa, Patrick Ukah is the man who has shown an exemplary leadership by bringing a cordial relationship between his ministry and the press, media activities organised by his Ministry; he ensures that every journalist in attendance benefits no matter how small it is.”
It was gathered that Patrick Ukah’s performance in the Ministry of Information has been above board, as he is said to have upgraded the conference hall of the Ministry in spite of the meagre allocation given to his ministry.
It was learnt that as the Director General of Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa’s campaign in Oshimili North Local Government, he worked tirelessly to return Okowa for the second tenure by winning his unit, ward and local government.
It could be recalled that before the governorship election in the state, Governor Okowa categorically stated that political office holders in the state would be appointed only if they were able to win their units, wards and Local Government. This, he said Ukah has done and proven himself before the Governor that he was politically on ground to deliver him.
Investigations revealed that some politicians who are afraid of the commissioner’s rising profile in the political power play of the state have decided to use this medium to tarnish his image before the governor because of selfish interest.
Chief Okonkwor Nicholas urged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa not to listen to sycophants because he knows his commissioners better than anybody in the state.
Information available to the press revealed that majority of Deltans have condemned the false publication on the commissioner and appealed to the governor to ensure he returns him as the commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Information based on his good programmes and achievements.
Efforts made to reach the Commissioner or his Special Assistant on Media for comments proved abortive.