By Aplefe Ojong
Exactly 70 days to May 29, 2015 when Senator Liyel Imoke is expected to pack his luggage out of the Governor’s Office calabar, it is becoming clear that the Abi born politician is set to add to his mountains of problems and equally try out the very route which his predecessors ventured but crashed out woefully.
This is because the Senator Liyel Imoke led administration has concluded plans for the concession of the Cross River State Newspaper Corporation, publishers of Nigerian and Weekend Chronicle, under the Public Private Partnership (PPP).
A document made available to CrossRiverWatch, signed by the Director General, Bureau of Public Private Partnership, Francis Ntamu, dated March 16, 2016, copied the Governor, his deputy, the Attorney general and Commissioners for Justice, Finance, and that of Information, Auditor General of the state and the General Manager, Cross River State Newspaper Corporation disclosed that BPPP has received interest from a potential investor willing to partner with the CRSG on the running of the state own newspaper outfit.
The Letter with reference number: CRS/BPPP/AD/45/VOL./1 indicates that a review meeting of all stakeholders has been fixed for Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at the bureau office, 33 Nsefik Layout by Ndidem Usang Iso Road by 2.00pm.
The letter further showed that the agenda of the meeting will include the opening prayer, Introduction of the parties present, opening remarks/project scope by DG BPPP, Private sector participation and opportunities in the CRSNC by Commissioner for Information, Mr. Akin Ricketts and The General Manager, CRSNC, Mr. Ogbang Akwaji; while the legal framework of the CRSNC will be presented by the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Cross River State.
Other items fixed for the meeting include proposed project housekeeping issues such as project approval request to the Governor, Asset Inventory Register of Cross River State owned Newspaper Company, Asset Register of the Newspaper Company, Personnel related issues in the Newspaper, organogram/organizational chart, number of staff designation of key staff experience and training of key staff, monthly payroll cost of staff, average age of employees, composition of project team and responsibility matrix, AOB, closing remarks and project key next steps and closing prayer.
Some Cross Riverians who spoke with CrossRiverWatch but would not want their names in print vowed that, having concessionaired other state owned properties, including our hospitals, the “governor, will meet his waterloo in the case of the Cross River State Newspaper Corporation because the people of the state are passionately attached to the CRSNC.”
“Cross lines, a vibrant transport company was privatized, what has become of the company and the benefit to the people whose tax money was used to set up the company. Cross River Estate Limited, PAMOL, Water Board among others has been given out, what is the benefit to the people. Let Liyel Imoke tell us who bought over a vast portion of the Cultural Center, because Cross Riverians are aware that a trace of the sales will end in Imoke’s dynasty”, one respondent maintained.
Competent sources also informed us that the leadership of the Information Ministry is completely opposed to the planned concession of the Newspaper corporation established by the regime of late Brig. U.J Esuene in 1974 to propagate the activities of the state government and also bring the views and needs of the people to the attention of government.
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