The botched German Expo organized by Akwa Ibom Diaspora Network (AIDN) in America and Europe is causing ripples in the state. Following an exposé by a US-based Akwa Ibomite, Uwem Sam, the state is abuzz with what a political pundit termed The scam of the year.
There are allegations that some people who acted under the impression that the Governor Godswill Akpabio-led-state government was going to bankroll the event are now counting their losses as money allegedly released to cover their expenses has vamoosed into very deep pockets in Uyo.
They had alleged that N10m meant to offset out of pocket expenses never got to those who spent their money. And Aniekan Umanah, the Information and Communications Commissioner was fingered in the scam that out of the said N10m released, only £10,000 (about N2.6m) was sent to one Uduak Ukpe in London (the United Kingdom) to cover printing expenses.
Another source put the money spent on printing at a little over £4,000, adding that printing was not done in London as claimed but in Slovenia.
But in a move to clear his name, Umanah has described the report which was published in an Uyo-based-tabloid as false and unfounded. Flanked by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Clement Ikpatt, who is also the President of AIDN, Umanah last Thursday, while addressing newsmen, challenged the author and sponsors of the news item to produce evidence that he pocketed AIDN’s money.
According to him, although the state government promised to financially support the AIDN conference, which was later postponed, the money has not been released from the state treasury. And while describing the report as laughable and a figment of the writer’s imagination, wondered how funds that have not been released could be cornered by him.
Hear him, “Throughout my many years in public service, I have not taken anybody or group’s money. I have worked for many multi-national companies and international organizations, I have never been found wanting. This allegation is from one Uwem Sam, a member of the opposition wing, as part of their blackmail and propaganda to discredit people who are loyal to Governor Godswill Akpabio. I promise they will not succeed. My hard-earned integrity cannot be smeared by an internet marauder who does not have a pedigree. And I will not allow that”.
He made it clear that the officials of AIDN were alive for clarifications, stressing that the money will be given out to the group, when it is released.
ROTIMI AMAECHI SACKS UCHE SECONDUS
The war in Rivers State is still raging with uhuru not yet at sight. And in the process, more lives, property and people are consumed. The latest casualty is the National Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus. He has been sacked from office by Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Aside his large portfolio at the PDP national Secretariat, Secondus was until last week, the chairman of the Board of the Port Harcourt Flour Mills Limited.
The sack letter was signed by Mr. Chima Chinye, the Commerce and Industry Commissioner. The fire that consumed Secondus also spread to the domain of Madam Jane Nna Chinwa, a representative of the state government on the board.
Meanwhile, the political leader of Eleme Local Government Area, Mr. Marcus Nle Eji has been nominated as a replacement for the embattled PDP boss, while Mr. Francis Elechi was also appointed to replace Chinwa.
Amaechi and Secondus, at a point were like five and six, until Secondus started being one of the arrow-heads of the flood of criticisms against Amaechi. Weeks back, with Amaechi’s cross-over to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the thread that held the bond was finally shredded by party affiliations.
SMOOTH PRYNZ STORMS BENIN WITH HBCOW
His real names are Esosa Freddy Ekhaese Jnr, but in the world of the Edo celebrity he is known and addressed by all as Smooth Prynz. His latest product is Heart Beat Celebrities Organization World-wide (HBCOW), a non-governmental and non-profit organization.
Membership of the organization is open to intelligent, talented and famous illustrious sons and daughters of Edo origin. And HBCOW is poised to fortify the efforts of the government in developing the citizens and building the state and nation at large.
A roll call of members so far include entertainers, media practitioners, the academia, authors, sportsmen, businessmen, etc. It is interesting to note that, all the Edo ethnic groups; Bini, Ishan, Owan, Afema, Esakor, Igarra, Afuze, etc. are ably represented.
Projects lined up for the year include Heartbeat Fiesta, Heartbeat Awards, Miss Heartbeat Beauty Pageant, Heartbeat Foundation and an enlightenment programme tagged Version – Focus on the Heartbeat.
Meanwhile, last week, officials and members of the organization’s Board of Trustees paid a courtesy visit on His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin Kingdom, Oba Erediauwa, who gave them his blessings. According to the initiator, Esosa F.E Jnr, activities lined up for the year will kick off next month.
ABOUT GOVERNOR LIYEL IMOKE’S DISLIKE FOR EPL
It is no longer news that Governor Liyel Imoke was on more than one occasion voted the Chief Supporter of Sports for 2013. And most people have been wondering what the parameter were for such a landslide win over other governors.
On good authority, we have it that at a public function a few weeks, Imoke, in response to a question said with an air of finality, “I don’t support Chelsea, Manchester United or any Premier League or any other foreign team for that matter”.
This for once quelled the suspicion on the streets of the Paradise City that the amiable Governor is a dye-in-the-wool supporter of one of the top English premiership clubs.
We learnt the only teams he supports are Nigerian teams, especially the duo of the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets.
Last year, the governor’s body language portrayed him as someone who apparently put his money where his mouth is, as he gave so much moral as well as financial support to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) towards the preparation, hosting and qualification of both the Super Eagles and Golden Eaglets for continental and global championship.
And it paid off because while the Stephen Keshi-led-Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time in 19 years in South Africa on their way to securing the country’s fifth World Cup appearance at Brazil 2014, the Golden Eaglets qualified for the CAN Under-17 Championship for the first time since 2007. They later won silver at the championship in Morocco before becoming a record four-time performer at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup held in the UAE. And Imoke was very impressed since those outings justified the huge support.
The foundation of sports development in the state is built on a programme called Comprehensive Sports Development Programme (CSDP). It is aimed at discovering budding talents from the nooks and crannies of the state in order to expose them to the twin-facet of education and sports.
So far, over 4,000 young athletes of school ages have been discovered and some of them performed creditably at the just concluded National Youth Games (NYG); the project served as the platform for the state to host and win the National School Sports Festival in 2011 aside finishing first at the 2013 National School Festival hosted by Rivers State.
The state boasts of six sports excellence centres across the state, two ultra-modern stadia under construction in Ikom (Central Senatorial Districts) and Ogoja (Northern Senatorial Districts) to complement the U.J. Esuene Sports Stadium in Calabar. (Southern Senatorial District), which unarguably is the best-maintained stadium in the country. Imoke, later in the year, will play host to the 2014 National Sports Festival and the 30th World Mountain Race Championship.