Delta State Ministry of Information has frowned at a publication posted on Saharareporters web journal on June 11, 2013, alleging that the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Kenneth Okpara may have tampered with the sum N150 million originally meant for the state’s Vision 2020 Plan.
A statement dated June 12, 2013 and signed by the Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah Esq said that certain interest groups determined to frustrate positive change in the machinery of governance may have been responsible for the unfounded allegations.
He claimed that Saharareporters had chosen to propagate falsehood as the writers had conceived malice before thought by deliberately maligning the person and administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, despite the clarification made available by the state Government.
The statement titled, Re: Delta Commissioner may have pocketed “Vision 2020” N150 million and made available to Blank NEWS Online reads:
“The attention of the Delta State Ministry of Information has been drawn to a publication posted on Saharareporters web journal of June 11, 2013 with the above title. Earlier in May this year, a community newspaper publisher had sought explanation from the Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning on what he thought was the expenditure profile of N150 million on the Delta State Vision 2020 Plan.
“In the detailed response to the enquiry which Saharareporters made reference to, it was made clear that only N90,300,000 (ninety million three hundred thousand naira only) was released in two tranches of N30 million on November 15, 2011 and N60.3 million on June 12, 2012.
“The major expenditure was the payment of N29 million to the project facilitator, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), for the design and installation of M & E System, a result-based monitoring and evaluation software, in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Other expenditures were for the purchase of a purpose-branded Toyota Hilux vehicle; printing and distribution of additional 1,000 copies of the Delta State Vision 2020 Plan as well as a two-week intensive course in January 2013 for 50 participants drawn from 40 MDAs in the state by UNITAR.
“The salaries of the Vision 2020 secretariat staff, transport and travelling expenses, stationeries and bank charges brought total expenditure to N57.861 million.
“By June 11, 2013, the day of the Saharareporters publication, the bank balance from the N90.3 million released for the Vision 2020 Plan stood at N32.438 million.
“These facts were available to Saharareporters at the time of its publication. For reasons not too difficult to discern, Saharareporters chose the path of armchair journalism, fiction and malice. His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State, had mandated the Commissioner for Economic Planning to evolve measures that would improve the management of resources, project execution and reduce waste in governance.
“We know there are interest groups determined to frustrate positive change in the machinery of governance. With the plausible and variable true story on the Vision 2020 Plan expenditure available to Saharareporters, that it chose to propagate falsehood shows that the clarification it sought from the Government was not done in good faith in the first instance. Clearly, there was malice before thought and a barely disguised agenda of maligning the person and administration of the Governor of Delta State under any guise.
“We have gone to great depth to again give details of the expenditure of the N90.3 million just to enable Deltans, Nigerians and followers of Saharareporters have a glimpse of the real intent behind the on line journal’s denial of the truth in favour of fiction.”