Friday, 10 January 2014

BETWEEN GLOBAL CONCORD AND MACAULEY UMOREN

BETWEEN GLOBAL CONCORD AND MACAULEY UMOREN
Global Concord Newspaper  (Ikpaisong Empire, Uyo) c/o Thomas Thomas - 08029300123

It is usual in Nigeria, whenever elections approach, for ‘mercenaries’ to solicit the patronage of timid politicians plagued by anything from  guilt of non-performance, to plain inferiority. Such ‘mercenaries’ need only be proficient at ‘taking Panadol over their pay-master’s headaches’ (or wiping their bottoms). Once recruited, the mercenaries commence ‘image-laundering’ for their pay-masters; but initiate vicious campaigns of blackmail and character assassination, to impugn the integrity of any who opposes them. This has deliberately or inadvertently, often provoked diatribes on the pages of newspapers; or even the physical exchange of brick-bats.

GLOBAL CONCORD,[which Thomas Thomas represents] would ordinarily not join issues with ‘mercenaries’, but is compelled to react to an advertorial “History, Doubting Thomas and Karma”, published on Page 7 of The Nation newspaper of Dec 29, 2013, by a certain Macauley Umoren, in reaction to an earlier publication in the Dec 27, 2013 edition of the same paper, titled “History, Akpabio and Karma”.
Whoever Mr. Umoren truly is, his writing style familiarly mimics that of Mr. Aniekan Umana, the State’s Commissioner for Information, who is well-known for attacking the critical press. His publication also constitutes the height of malicious falsehood; as he leveled weighty, invidious, but utterly false allegations specifically aimed at tarnishing GLOBAL CONCORD and its Monday Editor-Thomas Thomas. He claimed GLOBAL CONCORD is “a rogue publication”; “the guerilla arm of the defunct ACN”; and that the paper was “not registered with the requisite government agencies, and the Nigerian Union of Journalists”. He labeled it an outfit of “hired character-assassins” who defame people and operate without an address, to evade court action being filed against them. He also branded Thomas Thomas a “law-breaker” and a “college drop-out”.

GLOBAL CONCORD intends by this rebuttal therefore, to dispel the web of falsehoods, so intricately but inexpertly spun by Mr. Umoren, and expose him for who he really is – a credibility-deficient, faceless-writer, cursed with yawning vacuity, and the collective intellectual depth of a mud-puddle. We shall also address the integrity of issues Mr. Umoren raised, and highlight his abysmal failure at disproving the facts he reacted to, with the overall objective that all be better informed about this impostor.

WEALTHRANGE NIGERIA LIMITED which publishes GLOBAL CONCORD was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja in 2010, under the Limited Liability Company. The paper was thereafter duly registered with the NUJ, the National Library (which issued it the ISSN: 2276 - 8793). It was born at the height of severe repression of political opposition in Akwa Ibom State. From inception, the Paper suffered blistering persecution. Its Marketing and Distribution staff have often been harassed or arrested; its Editors, Columnists and Contributors have been fed a steady dose of death threats; while four of its key-staff have escaped assassination attempts.

The paper has however consistently rebuffed compromise overtures, and remained objective in its reportage in line with the FOI Act. It has also remained resolute in the fact that no matter how much Truth is persecuted, IT CAN NEVER BE KILLED. At the bottom end of the back page of every edition of the paper also, the names and addresses of the Editors are clearly displayed. Accompanying this article are published documents of the Paper’s registration, for perusal. In the same vein, Thomas Thomas (its Monday Editor), is a journalist, a historian, a poet, a playwright, a social commentator, a researcher, and an author. He holds an NCE, OND, and a BA (Hons) from three reputable institutions in Nigeria; and has authored three books but published two (‘Iboom in Trouble’ and ‘The Only Son’). The third, ‘The Historical Background of Oboetim Nsit, is still in the publication process.

Thomas has written several poems and plays; and published innumerable articles in recognized outfits like the Guide newspaper, Free Reporters, Community Pulse (where he served as Features Editor); the Ink newspaper, and GLOBAL CONCORD. Presently he is pursuing a degree in a second discipline. It is clear that Mr. Umoren does not even know Thomas; so his tirade against this outfit and Thomas, has advertised him as a character-assassin and a desperately-inane, and compulsive liar, on a paid mission to demonize GLOBAL CONCORD.

It takes courage to be a critic in Nigeria; to inveigh against societal ills, and reprove architects of the malfeasance. It takes iron-clad resolve to refuse compromise in cash and kind (the same consideration which world-over, has silenced integrity in both Prince and pauper). In Nigeria, the lot of PERSECUTION (for standing for the truth), has befallen several press outfits and private individuals. The travails of people like Gani Fawenhinmi, Ken Saro Wiwa, Beko Kuti, Femi Falana, Dele Giwa, Alh Balarabe Musa, Col. Abubakar Umar (Rtd), even ex-President Obasanjo (when he spoke up against Abacha), are instructive in this note. GLOBAL CONCORD belongs in the same country, and this naturally, has pitched it against contrary forces (including Mr Umoren).

It is a fact that Obong Attah has suffered blistering persecution since 2007, when he vacated office. He has been maligned on the pages of newspapers, derogated by upstarts, accused of looting the State’s coffers, and insulted in more instances than can be documented. This fact can be ascertained from Attah himself, and any other honest citizens in the State. It is also a fact that Attah did not receive his entitlements as a former Governor, or any financial assistance for his wife’s medical bills, until her demise. These facts can also be ascertained from Attah himself, as well as from any truthful citizens (even in the present government), who are privy to the fact.

The existence therefore, (if any), in the Accountant General’s office, of disbursements towards the medical bills of late Nnenyin Attah, do not translate into such monies having actually gotten to Attah. On that premise, if Attah rebuffed the written request of the State Government to take over his wife’s funeral (as Mr. Umoren claimed), then he shouldn’t be faulted for denying the Government the opportunity to celebrate Nnenyin’s death (and not her life), and maybe build political capital out of the ‘magnanimity’. Attah also did the right thing in rejecting the N26 million, and the State Government’s condolence letter, which was brought in two days before his wife’s funeral, (after the funeral and burial programmes had already been printed). This explains why there was no State Government condolence letter in any of the programmes. But then, doesn’t the absence of any condolence letter in any of the programmes, from any serving Government functionary (even in a private capacity), smack of a conspiracy borne out of high-level intimidation? It does. 

Mr. Umoren mentioned Her Excellency’s attendance of the Service of Songs with women; and Their Excellencies’ participation in Nnenyin’s funeral ceremony. True; but he thereafter exhibited his penchant for blatant falsehoods, firstly, when he claimed that the State Government contributed greatly to the funeral; and secondly, when he said that the State Government rehabilitated the road leading to Victor Attah’s Shelter Afrique residence and installed street-lights, just before the event. It is astounding how profoundly ‘money’ could dictate that a person impoverish himself of integrity, because the road to Attah’s residence was already well-constructed, and street-lights installed, long before then (during Attah’s administration). If  the State Government’s contributions to the funeral (as Mr. Umoren alleged), were acknowledged, then he should explain why Their Excellencies’ were treated to a reception of boos and jeers; with His Excellency not even being allowed to make a speech at the funeral?  

When Mr Umoren claimed that Thomas “contradicted himself”; was “disjointed and confused”; and was “a troubled man incoherent in thought”, the labelings suited him (Mr. Umoren) better; because he failed to note that what was actually said was that Akpabio won the 2007 elections on the strength of merit, but won the 2011 elections on a stolen ticket. If this were not a fact, then why did allegations of election rigging and manipulation constitute the issues in the post-election petitions; and why are allegations of forged certificates and signatures, as well as fake tax clearance slips still the subject of litigation against Akpabio in the law courts today (almost three years later)?

Mr Umoren said that Thomas “expressed flagrant ignorance in respect of the conduct of Party Primaries”; stating that Akpabio won the PDP Primaries “hands down”, after exhibiting the “spirit of sportsmanship” by insisting on a repeat primaries after the exclusion of candidates in the first. But Mr. Umoren should first have questioned why any candidates were excluded in the first place. Then he may have recalled that Akpabio shortly before the conclusion of the 2011 Elections, was alleged to have said that in Nigeria, all a candidate needed to do was win elections at any cost, and that the Election Petition Tribunals would sit over the matter until the expiration of the candidate’s tenure. He should also have remembered that the same Akpabio once publicly owned up to substituting a candidate’s name for that of Distinguished Senator Alloysius Etok. If Mr. Umoren fails to acknowledge the fact that the entire political machinery and the judicial process thereafter were manipulated (and not by Thomas), then he dismisses himself as a man compromised into swaying others by deceit. If he also expected Thomas to respect the manipulation, then ‘Foul!’
It is not news that Governor Akpabio is jostling to be succeeded by a god-son. It is even alleged that he has plotted successors to the highest echelons in the Legislature and the Executive to run the State from 2015. If truly as Mr. Umoren claimed, Akpabio “considering the pluralistic nature of the State consulted with Elders to produce a successor from Eket Senatorial District”, this does not vest Akpabio with the right to choose the successor. It doesn’t also invest in his Ibo in-laws, with the right to insist (as widely reported), on the Governor’s wish. Democracy dictates that the field be thrown open for any contenders to elective office, and that the people vote in their preferred candidate. The reluctance of any leader to permit a transparent contest to elect his or her successor may either indicate a desire to be continually relevant in the new government, or the dread of being called to account for his tenure; which may present the grim prospects of indictment for maladministration, forfeiture of assets, and a lengthy jail sentence.
Mr. Umoren’s appraisal of the ‘Underground Drainage’ failed to acknowledge the fact that the project has adversely impacted ‘flood-free zones’ and ‘Uncommonly-Transformed’ them into ‘flood-prone zones’. As soon as the rains set in, any contenders to this fact should ply roads like Babangida Avenue, Atiku Abubakar Way, Oron Road by Edet Akpan Avenue, Nkemba by Abak Road, Barracks Road, etc. Mr Umoren’s claim also that he sees Thomas drive over the flyovers and Itam junction, precludes the fact that Thomas has been stuck in his car in long traffic queues on the earlier mentioned flooded roads; and that pot-holes along Thomas’ street (Nsentip), have done havoc to his car. I’m certain Mr. Umoren was one of those who validated the claim that there were no potholes in Uyo; and yet streets like Etim Okon Usanga, Enwe Lane, Ukana Offot, Uwa Street, Asutan, and several others in the heart of Uyo, are death-traps. 
Mr. Umoren should be lectured on the fact that the Tropicana Entertainment Complex, he referred to, (though laudable), should have been preceded by a ‘needs assessment’ test, to determine WHAT THE PEOPLE NEED, and not WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS. The project with its 3,000 seating capacity, Mall, Galleria, Cineplex and all, will never impact as much on the lives of citizens, as the promised 31 industries (alone) would have. Akwa Ibom people need industries and job opportunities; food, shelter and clothing. They need education opportunities, scholarships and grants. They need a massive boost in science and technology. They also need security, a good welfare package, and the timely payment of their salaries, pensions, gratuities, and other entitlements. They don’t need a cinema hall; at least for now. Available statistics also indicate that the Tropicana falls flat in the face of cost economics when compared to its far less-expensive, yet more expansive and sophisticated contemporaries all over Nigeria. The same applies to roads, flyovers, water-fountains, etc. The flyovers around Itam are mere poles apart. The first begins in Ikot Akpe and ends in Ikot Akpe; while the second begins in Nung Ukot Itam and ends in Nung Ukot Itam. If Mr Umoren does not know about suspended roads (flyovers and overhead-bridges), he should appraise the lengths, functionality and costs of the Third Mainland Bridge, Eko and Carter bridges, Oworonsoki Flyover, the Eleme Flyover, etc.  

Although the Aka-Nung Udoe Road (which leads to ex-Governor Attah’s hometown) was constructed by Akpabio, its rabid advertisement suggests the road was constructed to spite Attah, who always claimed that he was forced by the meager resources at his disposal (during his tenure as Governor), to construct more important roads than the Nung Udoe Road. What Mr. Umoren however failed to give Attah credit for was paying compensation costs to residents on both sides of the road whose properties were to be demolished or otherwise affected.

Mr. Umoren’s claim that Thomas “can be found most evenings relaxing at the Edet Akpan/Nwaniba Fountain Resort”, is a big falsehood as Thomas knows better than to sit in such open spots and risk being kidnapped or assassinated (like the over 300 victims of both capital crimes since 2007). Even if Thomas elected to sit in the alleged spot, it would only be to savor Attah’s architectural genius and artistry in the construction of the Edet Akpan Avenue (the widest road in Akwa Ibom State), and Nwaniba Road up to the 5 Star hotel.
It is rather inconvenient to recite the list of projects Mr Umoren enumerated and credited to Akpabio; as everybody is conversant with the swan song of ‘Uncommon Transformation’. We hear too often about these uncompleted, exaggerated and non-existent projects every day. What we would however advise Mr. Umoren to do, is to wax an album on these achievements, and sing them in government circles. He would be certain of reward. But if he sings them to the people, they would stone him. Don’t ask me why.

In conclusion, Mr. Umoren has no moral rights to pontificate on behalf of Akpabio. His incredibility disqualifies him. He is a paid ‘pen-assassin’ with a jaundiced view; an ignorant hireling contracted to fabricate a cacophony of lies against perceived, real or imagined enemies of his paymaster. His advertorial (from the beginning to the end) represents the failed effort to vilify GLOBAL CONCORD. Access to the media should commit people to responsible reportage and not ‘guerilla-journalism’ founded on propaganda, outright lies, and character assassination. Thomas and GLOBAL CONCORD will refuse to be drawn into any further exchanges, as the people of Akwa Ibom State don’t need the likes of Mr. Umoren to tell them what GLOBAL CONCORD represents. The people know the truth; and because GLOBAL CONCORD stands for the truth, the outfit will continue to stand strong and certain of the highest regards of the people; even inwardly, among their present day most vociferous critics. So, Mr. Umoren Sir, take a bow!    

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