The Managing Director of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Mr. Williams Makinde weekend condemned the peddling of falsehood against the person and office of the Speaker, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya by Trend FM, Sahara Reporters and others.
Question One: Currently there is news in the media particularly the social media alleging that you said you had to race down to London to see the former governor James Ibori on the account that the Speaker is on your neck and putting pressure on you to grease his palm before the House can pass the DESOPADEC budget. Are you aware of this? What do you have to say?
Response: Well, my attention has been drawn to a report on Saharareporters and a news item in TREND FM, Asaba on this issue. In the first instance, DESOPADEC budget is not ready. Our budget, the total of our budget is a line item with the State budget. The State budget has not been approved. Until the State budget is approved, maybe our line items will be approved so that we can prepare a budget. Two, since I went for my PHD graduation in London, I have not been to London. I traveled and came back yesterday (07/01/2016). I travelled to Zanzibar. Zanzibar is not in London. Zanzibar is in East Africa. If you don’t have a budget, how can you bribe for passage of a budget? The Speaker is like a father to us. The Speaker was the last person I visited before the Xmas. So, all those fabrications, there are a lot of news about DESOPADEC and Willaim Makinde on Saharareporters. There is no truth in the stories. So, this one is just like one of them.
But, what I want to say is that, this year for every false report that they make against DESOPADEC or make against my person, I will take that person to court because I have tolerated enough. I have taken enough of this rubbish. So, we don’t have a budget, we have not submitted budget to the House of Assembly neither have I made any contact with the House of Assembly on bribe or whatever greasing of palm that they are talking about. How somebody can sit in his office of wherever he is and come up with those stories? It beats my imagination.
Question Two: Can you categorically now state that it was actually false?
Response: It is false, malicious and I am investigating it. I have already made a press release denying it. I intend to take the TREND FM or the Saharareporters to court over this matter because I have taken enough rubbish from the media. I am a media person, I came from the press. I am a former executive director with AIT, so I know what the press is supposed to represent. Not people blackmailing people or raising dust between two public officers.
Question Three: Now will you say that DESOPADEC is in harmony with the House? Is there any conflict existing between the House and DESOPADEC?
Response: There has never been any issue with the House. The House cleared us without stress, how do we now go back and pay them back by going to the press. The whole story is that there is no budget. That is the first thing, we don’t have a budget.
Question Four: Has DESOPADEC submitted its budget?
Response: We have not concluded our own budget internally. We have not submitted a budget to the governor nor to the House. So, the issue of going to bribe somebody to pass the budget does not arise. So, the issue that the House is holding on to our budget does not arise.
Question Five: Did you go to London to meet Ibori on this matter?
Response: I went to Zanzibar and came back yesterday (07/01/2015). I have not been to London in the last two to three months talk less of going to Ibori on this matter. There is no matter, so why should I go and discuss what does not exist with Chief Ibori.
Question Six: Have you interacted since you came back in the last hours with your commission members on the matter?
Response: When my attention was drawn to it because they referred to my staff, I called my press aides, the two of my press aides both for social media and the other. I asked them whether they granted any interview to Saharareporters or anybody on budget. They said no and I have also discussed with my colleagues on the issue. All of them were at a loss to the source of the information. That even a radio station picked it up is very annoying. A radio station is an electronic medium; they have to cross check their information. And TREND FM picked it up which means ninety percent of the information that TREND FM read in their news is totally false, there is no truth to it. So maybe TREND FM is no longer a reliable radio station
Question Seven: Now what will be your advice to journalists practicing this kind of journalism?
Response: I do not want to qualify those people as journalists because journalism as a profession has some ethics and standards.
Question Eight: Are you embarrassed by this?
Response: I am terribly embarrassed because the person they are talking about apart from being the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, is a senior member of my ethnic group. He is an Urhobo man. It will be very annoying that two people from Delta Central who have found themselves in the same government are going to be involved in this kind of conflict.
The truth is that we have never had any issue, myself and the speaker. The Speaker calls me time and over to advise me on one issue or another, please do it this way, do it that way because I am new in government. He invited me to his house to talk on how to go about issues. When I had issue with the youth, he invited me. When I had issue with some of my colleagues, he invited us. So he has been acting and playing the role of a father which he is to me in this commission. So, maybe that is why people want to cause disaffection between us.
Question Nine: Are you thinking of the position of the members of the House on this issue?
Response: I believe members of the House even know Saharareporters. They know their trade mark. So anybody who takes seriously the word of Saharareporters would just have unnecessary blood pressure for nothing. I don’t read Saharareporters but when my attention was drawn to it that is why I even issued the press release. Somebody called me and said this is what we read in Saharareporters. What is the story about? Chief Amori even called me about 1 0r 2 hours ago, and said Makinde what is happening with you and the Speaker? I said over what? He said Saharareporters. I started laughing, saying Sahararporters. How will somebody call me about Saharareporters? Members of the House should disregard whatever they have read on Saharareporters. People should begin to crosscheck whatever information they get from TREND FM because we already know that Saharareporters is an institute that is meant to blackmail people. For TREND, maybe they also want to begin to follow that path that is very unfortunate. But, also I will report them; I will make a formal report to the NBC. I will also consider taking them to court.