Mr Eddie Gbegbaje
By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe
Contrary to claims by some online media platforms and on social media, that certain government officials enriched themselves through padding of official memos, Delta State Government on Wednesday set the records straight, saying all approved memos were vetted, scrutinized and evaluated before funds were released.
Government spokesperson and Information Commissioner, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in a media parley disclosed that allegations levelled against some government officials wherein certain figures were quoted to have been misappropriated, over invoiced and/or padded via memos, were not true because of the central administrative procedures which includes; tracking, vetting, proper evaluation and necessary approvals obtained before the release of funds, and audit certificates obtained were necessary.
He said the recent attacks on the Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Government House And Protocols, DGHP, Mr Eddie Gbegbaje, by an online newspaper over memos that were approved, ought not to be sensationalised by any reporter that knows his onions, because those memos correctly addressed government needs at the time and were subsequently approved after going through the various stages, adding that memos constitutes fundamental channels of official business as public documents.
The state government cleared Gbegbaje of all allegations put out by the online newspaper, describing the publication as not only mischievous but grossly irrelevant based on available records indicating that the Permanent Secretary, DGHP, acted as directed and without blemish.
Aniagwu further asserted that Okowa administration will continue to sustain transparency, accountability and honesty in the conduct of government day to day business for the overall benefit of the good people of Delta State.
He appealed to Journalists and media practitioners generally, to abstain from character assassination, sensationalism and deliberate publication of falsehood, half truth or unverified piece of information capable of injuring the integrity of tested and trusted civil servants and public officials at various levels.
“Stick to the ethics of Journalism in your reportage and eschew speculative and fictitious reporting capable of questioning your intellectual capacity and integrity.
“We need to bring certain development to your notice. We have observed that there appears to be some hirelings, particularly in social media.”
“You will recall that sometime last year, I hinted to you that there are individuals who have become tools and are always willing to write and communicate issues that are, by every sense of imagination, at variance with the realities of the moment.
“At that time, if you would recall and even up till this moment, I did say that no malicious publication would deter the government from the goals that the governor had set for the administration, which at this point, is aimed at building a Stronger Delta.”
“We have observed in the last three weeks or a month that these same elements have gone ahead to take advantage of the privilege that they have in the social media to begin to write about memos that were used for the purpose of governance in the last five years.
“Let me make it abundantly clear that the business of government and the business of private sector operator are usually run via memos because you must communicate (write) for the purpose of evidencing what you are asking the government to do, because the money has to be accounted for.
He commended journalists in the state for their support to the Okowa administration, and solicited the sustenance of the “robust’’ relationship between the media and the state government.
On the issue of property tax, Aniagwu explained that it was not a new policy, but that the state government was only strengthening it with a plan to embark on enumeration in urban areas of the state with a view to bringing more property into the tax net.
On the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of the state, he said that the state government generated N7.8 billion in January, N5.3 billion in February, N6.04 billion in March, N3.9 billion in April, N3.5 billion in May and N4 billion in June, 2020.
The commissioner stated that every transaction of the administration of Governor Okowa was done transparently and not in secrecy.
He advised residents of the state living on river banks or flood-prone areas to be at alert and relocate to upland as soon as the water level increased to avert disaster.
According to him, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had predicted that 18 local government areas of the state would witness flood as a result of the increase of water from River Niger.
On COVID-19, Aniagwu noted that the state government was doing well in the treatment of confirmed positive cases, adding that persons with mild symptoms of the virus were currently on isolation in their homes and receiving treatment
He advocated the need for residents of the state to continue to obey all protocols put in place by the government and NCDC so as to effectively checkmate the disease.
Aniagwu said that the recent upward review of the 2020 budget of the state after an earlier reduction due to COVID-19, was in line economic development in the country.