After almost seven years of installation and activation, the $1.
5 million Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation Rotary Press purchased by former governor Godswill Akpabio has remained obsolete.
The press is made up of a Supra Setter A105, also known as a Computer To Plate (CTP) machine, and a Goss Community Press with a web offset press. It has the capacity to print 17 color pages and 32 black and white pages of newspaper, and can produce 500,000 impressions per hour with a CTP resolution of 2,400 DPI.
The Press was built to allow the AKNC to print the state-owned Pioneer newspaper at a low cost in the state, as well as function as a commercial printing press for national and local newspapers.
However, according to Naijacrawl, the machine has never printed a copy of the Pioneer since its commissioning, despite the fact that the state government has yet to officially give over the facility to AKNC.
When contacted, Mr. Silas Udo, the former General Manager of Pioneer Newspaper, revealed that the machines were not officially given over to them by the overseeing ministry, the Ministry of Information and Strategy, and that none of the AKNC workers had been instructed on how to operate the machines.
“The Press was never used to print the Pioneer in my time. No Pioneer staff under my watch went for training anywhere to master the workings of the Press.
“Yes, we did not receive the Press. It was a deliberate decision not to receive it as the procedural processes were not done or seen to be done. For example, the checklist to ascertain that what the government paid for, are what were sent by the manufacturers was not done. It would, therefore, have been against Civil Service procedure to sign a Stores Receipt Voucher (SRV), unless this was done after I left service.”
When contacted, Mr. Idorenyin Umoren, AKNC's then-Production Manager, revealed that he was a member of the State government's Pre-shipment Inspection Committee, which was supposed to visit Goss Community Press Company in Germany, but that the committee was never established, and that the inspection of Goss Community Press Company in Germany, Hieldelberg, never happened.
He was surprised to learn that the machines had arrived in Uyo via Onne in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and that they were anticipated to welcome them, claiming that no AKNC manufacturing personnel had been educated on how to use the equipment.
Mr. Patrick Usen, the project's consultant, has also accused the Ministry of Information of being responsible for the project's failure, and has asked for an investigation.
Usen explained that the machines failed to work due to improper installation, saying the managers of the project did not follow the procedures necessary to set up a press.
He questioned the manner in which the machines were received, saying there was no confirmation of what was received as opposed to what was sent, adding that the auxillary equipment that came with the machines, such as forklifts, rollers, etc., which are among the major pieces of equipment for the smooth running of the machines, was missing.
The consultant called for a technical audit of what was supplied, what was installed, and how it was installed, as well as possible errors with the installation processes, so as to correct the abnormality that had kept the machines from working.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak with Mr. Aniekan Umana, who was then the Commissioner for Information and who supervised the whole process of purchasing, installing, and commissioning the press, were not successful as he did not pick up his calls, nor respond to text messages sent to his phone by journalists.
However, when the current Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Ini Ememobong, was contacted by correspondents, he 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 gray areas."
In line with the Governor’s determination to continue to achieve results in the most cost-effective way, we had to open up the business to private investors who would come and manage the press. Many have indicated interest, and we are still considering the options. I assure you that before the exit of this administration, the press will be taken over for proper management. ”