The last may not have been heard of yet as the war of attrition raging between the Chief Press Secretary to Akwa Ibom Governor and members of the Government House Press Corps, Uyo over allegation of stealing of money continues unabated.
The battle between the press secretary and press corps of more than 50 members has shifted from official government channel to the Facebook court where the two combatants are locked in a war of unprintable words.
The cold war that started on Sunday, April 5 dovetailed into Monday, April 6 with no ceasefire yet in sight.
One Ekere Umana on the title UDOM PRESS CORPS ACCUSE EKERETE UDOH OF STEALING stoke the fire that “The Press Secretary to the Governor Udom Emmanuel, Ekerete Udoh has been labeled of converting money meant for members of the Governor’s Press team for his personal use. Udoh who is the head of the media team of the governor is feeding fat on the largesse meant for members of the press corps.
“Initially the press team used to get their share of largesse from the governor direct from the CSO or the Permanent Secretary, the CPS cautioned all these people to steer away from matter that relate to press corps, that he is the head of the team. Since that time, money meant for the press corps from the governor is channeled through him and he will not give a kobo to those doing the work.
“Mostly, if we went to Airport or to work with His Excellency and at the end, the governor out of sympathy gives us money, CPS still has to take his share out the money”.
“The anger of these press corps members overflowed as a result of the largesse given by the governor to his convoy for the ‘Stay at Home’ and complete lockdown in the State.
“The governor out of his magnanimity has directed that every member of his convoy including Security, paramedics, the press and drivers should be given Fifty Thousand naira for the period of this lockdown.
According to him, “all other departments have collected their own but the Press has not. We call the CSO, who is in charge of the convoy and he directed us to CPS that he has collected our own part of the money. When we put a call to the CPS, he shouted on us and claimed that we are not appreciative of what he has done. That is how he always behave when he wants short us out of what is due to us.
But, Uwem Kerns, Chief Information Officer, Government House Press Corps reacted “I was taken aback by a spurious publication yesterday, Sunday, 5th April, 2020 credited to one Ekere Umana and published on the Facebook page of one Osuini Francis.
Writing on the title: Re: Udom Press Corps Accuse Ekerete Udoh of Stealing-A DISCLAIMER!, Kerns said “In the concocted write- up, the author attempted though unsuccessfully to cast aspersion on my boss, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Ekerete Udoh using a screaming headline ” Udom Press Corps Accuse Ekerete Udoh of Stealing.”
According to him, “The story woven around financial disbursements to members of the Press Corps, from every indication, is a string of lies orchestrated from the pit of hell as it points to the fact that the rabble-rouser must have been hired by someone who probably has an ax to grind with the Chief Press Secretary.
“While I do not intend to join issues with the faceless author who, in his desperate attempt to castigate my boss, who has shown capacity and camaraderie in the running of the Corps and has never been involved in the disbursements of funds made available to the Press Corps, but only directs me to ensure that everyone is taken care of, failed woefully in approach, content and delivery of the hatchet job.
“I make bold to distance myself from the disjointed and poorly written falsehood. I am too busy, focused and definitely not available to be dragged and used to achieve the ulterior motives and devilish intention of the jobbers and their sponsors.
“As a Civil Servant, I am duty-bound to discharge my duties creditably and in the best interest of the government which I am serving, and to respect my boundaries.”
He described the Chief Press Secretary as “a great Boss, humane, humble to a fault and God-fearing gentleman, whom I have enjoyed a robust relationship in almost five years that we have been privileged to work together.”
Ekere Umana (not the real name) fired another salvo thus “It is disheartening that a quack, a greenhorn like Uwem Kerns, posted in an administrative mishap as Principal Information Officer to Government House could have the temerity to describe a piece of news report done in the interest of public good as disjointed and poorly written. Even if so, so what? Did it not convey the message of the perennial deprivation that has persisted in Government House Press Corps in the five years running?”
Penned under the title: UWEM KERNS’ SPURIOUS DISCLAIMER, he retorted “Perhaps he should be reminded of the several attempts the CPS, ‘his boss’ has made to sack him from Government House Press Corps as result of his ineptitude and inability to write common press releases. He should be reminded of how many times the Director in the Ministry of Information has stepped in to defend and plead with the CPS on his behalf. He might have forgotten because he has a very short retentive memory.
“It is, therefore, not a surprise that Uwem Kerns is defending the financial impropriety and rascality of his acclaimed boss – Ekerete Udoh. He has to defend him so that he will not kick him out because notorious incompetence which sometimes leads the CPS to describe him sarcastically as ‘work in progress’ to give effect to the fact that he is still learning. Kerns is morally obligated to cover the CPS so that he continues to tolerate his ineptitude and illiteracy. It is only annoying that an illiterate like him could have the effrontery to put up such ill-conceived write-up in the name of a disclaimer. I am constrained to ask him, What are you disclaiming?
“It is pertinent to remind Uwem Kerns that he is dancing naked by trying to cover up what is already known to the public. He said the CPS ‘has shown capacity and camaraderie in the running of the Press Corps.’ Very good, but he will only substantiate this claim if he is able to let the public know the many times the CPS has had a meeting with members of the press team in the five years running. He will further authenticate this statement when he is able to prove with facts what the CPS has done towards the welfare of members of the Press team.
“On the issue at hand, the money given to members of the press by the governor, Uwem Kerns should disclaim with facts that such money was not given by the Governor to members of the press at all and it was not signed and collected by the CPS. He should tell the public that he does not know about such release and that the CPS has not signed and collected that money. That should be the core issue for the disclaimer and not baseless and hollow writing purported as a rebuttal to a genuine agitation for people’s dues.
“Uwem Kerns said the CPS ‘only directs me to ensure that everyone is taken care of’ when there is money. But he failed to state that the CPS will take his share even when he is not part of such largesse, and he, the CIO would also take him and share the paltry remnants to the hungry pressmen who will only collect without questioning. Uwem has not stated also that even when the Governor appreciates men of the press for a job well done, he will take the lion share because he is the Principal Information Officer (acclaimed CIO).
“Why would he not defend Ekerete Udoh? Why would he not cover up the truth when he is fraternizing and conspiring with Ekerete to shortchange the entire press corps? That is why he hurriedly issued an ill-conceived statement in the name of a disclaimer to distance himself. But he knows the truth he is too complicit in the illegality to defend the truth.
“It is pertinent to let Uwem Kerns know that facts and records about him are before us. ANY ATTEMPT TO MAKE ANY COMMENT(S) CONCERNING THIS ISSUE APART FROM TELLING HIS ACCLAIMED BOSS TO DO WHAT IS NEEDFUL; WE WILL NOT FAIL TO OPEN HIS UNDERBELLY FOR THE PUBLIC TO EXAMINE AND SCRUTINIZE,” he warned.