Ahead 2011, Uduaghan Awards $1.2M Contract To Rev Up Pointer Newspaper

Source: OUR REPORTER. - thewillnigeria.com

ASABA, June 30, (THEWILL) – Delta State Governor has raised his game ahead of the 2011 governorship election in the state.

Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan a few days ago awarded a contract of N170 million naira for the printing, distribution and hosting of an online edition of the state owned moribund newspaper, The Pointer.

The contract was awarded to Sports Day Publishing and Printing Company, a company promoted by former state commissioner of sports, and President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba.

Ogba also doubles as the Secretary of the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

THEWILL investigations revealed that Uduaghan decided to improve the image of his administration after recently receiving uncomplimentary reports especially in the online media over the manner he has administered state affairs.

Confirming and explaining the terms of the one year contract in a conference call with THEWILL on Tuesday, Ogba said his company would reposition the newspaper by providing content, print 8 colour pages per edition and circulate copies daily nationwide especially in the Niger Delta region.

The printing he said would be done in Lagos at his ultramodern printing facility used by Sports Day.

The first edition of the new look Pointer is expected to hit the stands on July 01, 2010.  

A visit to the Pointer office on Tuesday saw engineers breaking walls, fixing windows Air conditioners and connecting computers to internet services for onward transmission of news materials to Lagos for publication.

We queried Chief Solomon Ogba on the rational behind the deal and asked him if the state was not over paying for the service.

Ogba said the cost of printing 10, 000 copies of each edition daily, purchasing new computers, installing VSAT satellite technology, training staff, printing, distribution and providing content is commensurate with the total cost of the project for now.

"When we did the maths, we will be making only N50, 000 as profit monthly, as someone that has benefited immensely from this state, I am doing this as my social contribution to the progress of the state.

"We may have to ask the state to give us something extra but for now our goal is to ensure that we deliver on the mandate," Ogba said.

The contract comes to about N14 million naira a month when we did the calculation at N150-$1.

The Pointer newspaper has suffered losses due to poor management and lack of adequate funding over the years. The newspaper company barely managed to hit the stands daily. It didn’t even have any distribution vans as a result the newspaper had resorted to delivering by public transport, "this is one of the reasons why even national newspapers get to the streets of Asaba even before the Pointer," an aggrieved worker said in Asaba.

Lamenting further, a cross section of the staff revealed that governor Uduaghan took everybody and the management of the company by surprise as nobody was informed about his plans until the deal was awarded to Ogba’s company.

But some senior staff of the Ministry of Information have expressed disappointment and dismay over the governor’s actions which they described as fraudulent and means of siphoning state monies to the detriment of Deltans and workers of the Newspapers company.

It would be recalled that last year, six of the Pointer titles were being printed in Asaba while the Sunday edition was printed in Lagos by a group of consultants appointed by the Information commissioner, Mr. Oma Djebah.

The state Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) governorship candidate in the 2007 elections, Comrade Emmanuel Odafe Igbini has however accused Uduaghan of using the deal to further siphon government funds for his governorship election campaign.