Umana Umana: Can A ‘Thief’ Probe Himself?
By Emmanuel Nicholas
When I first heard the news of the All progressive Congress (APC)’s intention to use forensic methods to probe Senator Godswill Akpabio’s administration in Akwa Ibom state, I laughed my heart out. Honestly, I couldn’t believe my ears until I listened to a recorded radio interview by Mr Ita Awak, the APC megaphone with a perforated mouth repeating the claim.
The loquacious Ita Awak analysed how Umana Okon Umana after taking over office (may be in 2023, Who knows) would probe Akpabio’s government. The Obong Umana Umana I know is a very orderly and reserved person; you cannot take that away from him.
However, this is quite a desperate time for him and he has to say something that would be pleasing to the ears. He has to encourage his foot soldiers to keep the fire of propaganda burning; else he will be overwhelmed by the strength of public opinion.
However, I expect Mr Umana to know that there are reasonable limits for him to make empty promises especially considering that he played a fundamental role in the last administration. How exactly does Umana intend to probe an administration he was the chairman of the FGPC that awarded all the contracts for almost seven years of the government.
How? In those seven years , his signatures adorned the several contract papers and books of government. He was all over government like a colossus.
During his seven years as the secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government, Umana was nearly the chairman of all government organized events and head of the joint account committee. He was rightfully christened the engine room of government.
How Umana Okon Umana forensically intends to probe himself and return the looted funds he took from the State is the next wonder of the world we are expecting to witness. Umana reminds me of the late Audi Abubakar who bluntly admitted during his campaigns that he stole from the state but that he will make refunds if re-elected as Governor of Kogi State.
Yes, I know Obong Umana Okon Umana will probe himself and return the Ibom Science Park Project money that he reportedly embezzled according to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on the Science Park. The committee gathered that St Umana was indicted by Engr Frank Okon and accused of not releasing the entire funds to his firm, contracted to deliver the project. I wish Umana will begin the probe from when he was Commissioner for Finance under Obong Attah.
The Documents from his office then as commissioner of Finance showed he had paid the whooping sum of five million, seven hundred thousand US dollars whereas the contracting firm said they only received one million, three hundred dollars. Ete Umana, you see your life?
Who else knows where Akwa Ibom state’s monies have been diverted to- A former Director of budget, former commissioner for finance, former secretary to state government. Such a man can trace funds even to private cash dumps at Osongama road and its current location in Ewet housing. I am sure those funds are not yet exhausted. They are still wrapped in the clothes of old banks like Citizens bank, mercantile bank, Societie Generale bank. You know these banks sir. Please probe.
I am one of those who believe in Obong Umana’s capacity to probe the looters of Akwa Ibom treasury. What inspires my belief is a Zambian proverb I once read on the portals of BBC which says, “Catch a thief, make him your guide, he will take you to where he kept your money and he will also lead you to other thieves”. Doesn’t it take a monkey to catch a monkey?
Before I digress, another committee that looked into the books at the Akwa Ibom International Airport indicted you, Mr Umana as the man who looted the funds that was meant for the construction of that Airport. The company, Dyncorp and our own Engr Ime Ekanem said in their report at the public enquiry that you did not release the total sum as recorded in the financial books of the Ministry of Finance under your watch, that the funding they received was 26 billion naira lower than what was documented in the books during Obong Victor Attah’s tenure in office.
Yes this is one loot I’m very sure you have the proper know how to trace. In fact, you can trace this loot to the purchase of Kaniex oil block for one hundred and thirty billion naira. You may not find your name as the owner of that oil block but as an excellent forensic auditor, you will find the name of your wife and first son clearly written on the papers. Please, say me well to them when EFCC gets to arrest them.
The excellent fact about having Umana as Governor is that he won’t need binoculars to trace stolen funds. He will walk up to where the holes are in the system and identify the rogues who have been stealing the state silly. I know Ete Umana will probe the contributory funds of the State Civil Servants at First Bank of Nigeria. The interesting fact about those funds is that when the then state Governor ordered that those funds be returned to the owners, the Bank report showed that the homo sapien called Umana had earlier ordered for the money to be transferred to a certain personal account that was later discovered to be his wife’s sister as the surname was Ubiam. Sir, can we trace this fund? It will be very sweet to have over 45 billion naira returned to the coffers of our dear State, Akwa Ibom State. I mean, can you imagine what difference that will make, especially with the current paucity of funds?
Akwa Ibom state urgently needs money for developmental programmes, hence the need for probes. That probe should spread its tentacles to one Construction Company called AEC Works Limited. The company is notorious for abandoning the popular Use Ikot Amaama road. The corporate name of the firm is registered in One Florence Umana’s name but however managed by one Anietie Umana. Are those names familiar sir? That company has received over hundred billion naira from your Finance and General Purposes Committee. They have written for variation twice which you approved as the chairman of FGPC and the funds were released to the firm. It appears that job was criminally abandoned. Do some findings sir. We can recover something there.
There is also a little sum we can recover from the servicing of Toyota vehicles at Government house. It is worth about three billion naira yearly. Though you did present the receipts on Yahoo forum. Ikpafak Thompson Essien still contends that those receipts were forged. Sir, I feel if we looked again at the contract books, we could recover something.
Also sir, there is also a tiny matter of the sale of the Akwa Ibom shares in Econet wireless. Successive administrations say the State’s shares were sold and that the money was given to your ministry, ministry of finance then but sir, it appears there is no trace by successive government as to how much the shares were sold and where the money is. When his excellency, Obong Victor Attah was interviewed recently, he said the record of that transaction was kept under your honest watch. I know these new guys are not experienced enough to know where you kept that money but if they allow you go in yourself, you will bring it out. Isn’t it? That’s why they should vote you in as Governor. If we wait till 2023, someone else may find that money and we will be finished.
On a serious note, Obong Umana should know that there are reasonable limits to which he can hurt the sensibilities of Akwa Ibom people. The eras of empty promises are over. The APC cannot pull a wool over the eyes of Akwa Ibom people again. I know no sooner than later, Umana will deny he made those promises or simply say, and those promises were made on his behalf. If there is anything Umana forgot at the government house during his long sojourn there, he is at liberty to delegate someone to help him get it out.
As part of his plans to recover stolen funds, has he also told Akwa Ibom people the unholy agreement he has entered with the like of Atiku and Tinubu to surrender the entire internally generated revenue of Akwa Ibom state into the hands of strangers? Has Umana in concrete and practical terms explained his plans for Akwa Ibom state within the context of the paucity of funds in the country? Sentiments and hate speeches will not be enough to pull a wool over Akwa Ibom people’s eyes. The APC strategy is now well known to Nigerians- they cannot make promises again and turn around to deny those promises.
There is no vacancy in Akwa Ibom state. No amount of unholy alliances will force the hands of Akwa Ibom people. Bayelsans have shown the way and other oil producing states in the region will follow suit.
It is a sad commentary on our politics that people who were a part of the last administration for seven of its eight years like Umana Umana and his co-travellers would now turn around and demonize the administration. They claim that the administration was wasteful, irresponsible, corrupt etc. He even says he will probe the government and recover stolen funds. How funny. This sounds like cutting your nose in order to spite your face. You cannot absolve Umana of hypocrisy without convicting him of self-indictment. How can a man who stole public funds recover the same public funds?