How Controversy dogs abandoned Akwa Ibom $1.5m press
Seven years after installing a Rotary Press worth over $1.5 million, the Akwa Ibom State Government seems to have abandoned the facility, by not putting it to use after commissioning.
Commissioned in the last days of Godswill Akpabio regime in 2019, investigation by The Press revealed that the Press consists of a Supra Setter A105, otherwise known as Computer To Plate (CTP) machine and a Goss Community Press with a web offset press, said to worth over $1.5 million then. It was meant to be operated by the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), publishers of the Pioneer Newspapers.
Former General Manager of Pioneer Newspaper, Mr. Silas Udo, who was in office when the press was installed, said the machine was not used by the Pioneer to print any paper, neither was any member of staff trained on how to operate the machines.
Silas stated that the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation did not officially receive the printing press, as it was never handed over to the Corporation by the supervising ministry, Ministry of Information and Strategy.
According to him, the procedural process of receiving the machines was not done because the necessary checklist to ascertain what the state government paid for, and what the manufacturers sent was not done.
Confirming the position of the GM at the time of installing the press, Mr. Idorenyin Umoren, the Production Manager of AKNC then, said he was one of the committee members of AKNC Rotary Press Pre-shipment Inspection Committee announced by state government to visit Goss Community Press Company in Germany.
Umoren, however, stated that the committee was not inaugurated, and the inspection visit to the Goss Community Press Company in Germany, Hieldelberg, never happened.
He said they were only informed that the machines had arrived Uyo through Onne in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and they were expected to receive them, saying no production staff of AKNC was trained on how to operate the machines.
Explaining the position of the current government on the subject matter, the incumbent Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, said: “When I came into the office, I visited the facility and commissioned an enquiry into issues surrounding the press, we are working to reconcile all grey areas.