…Summon By State Assembly Over Comatose State Of Delta Broadcast Station
The leadership of Radio Television Theatre & Arts Workers Union of Nigeria, (RATTAWU), Delta Broadcasting Service, DBS Warri Chapter and the DBS chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), have accused the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah as well as General Manager of Delta Broadcasting Service, DBS Warri, Mr. Tunde Omonode of incompetence over their failure to salvage the dying station.
In a petition addressed to the Delta State House of Assembly Committee on Information made available to BIGPEN ONLINE on Friday, the unionist accused Mr. Omonode of allegedly collaborating with the commissioner and other to kill the broadcast station, saying that the said Omonode had taked the broadcast station 30 years backward and deliberately refusing to step down in connivance with the information commissioner even though his tenure has since elapsed.
The petitioners alleged that to enable him (Omonode) perpetrate his clandestine financial machinations in the Establishment, he surreptitiously employed three casual staff as secretaries into the three key departments that control the funds of the station including Office of the General Manager, Accounts/Finance and Marketing, all in a bid to cover up his fraudulent acts”.
According to the petition, the Accounts Department is loaded with members of one family and friends who are staff of the station against the ethics of the job and the extant rules, alleging that “Revenues from several commercial programmes and advertisements are paid into individual accounts belonging to the General Manager, Deputy General Manager/HOD Accounts/Finance and Deputy General Manager/HOD Marketing, thereby violating approved financial regulations”.
“Before his (Omonode) appointment, the Administrative Department was responsible for raising memos/vouchers, but this responsibility was transferred from the Administrative Department to Accounts Department. Currently, the Account Department raises vouchers and makes payments against established procedures, thereby allowing fictitious vouchers to be paid without passing through the Audit Unit for verification. The General Manager working in cahoot with the HOD Accounts/Finance is currently in possession of several vouchers they intend to retire upon the dissolution of the Board of DBS Warri to cover their tracks.
“Consequently, the Internal Audit Unit has been rendered redundant despite several interventions for the General Manager to reverse the ugly development. To further raise alarm over this gross financial wrong doing, the Internal Audit Unit wrote to the Chairman of the Board of Directors to prevail on the General Manager and Accounts/Finance Department without success”.
The petitioners also accused the commissioner for information of ineptitude and deliberately turning a blind eye to the comatose state of the broadcast station which has been on “life support due to inefficiency, lack of vision and mismanagement of funds, despite the huge budgetary provisions by the State House of Assembly through the State Ministry of Information and Internally Generated Revenue accruing to the station.
They alleged that in order to intimidate staff and continue with his impunity, the General Manager had always boasted that the State Commissioner for Information, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors are all under his pay roll hence, he is untouchable.
“The Seeming Conspiracy Of Silence from the Commissioner for Information who is in possession of the Outside Broadcasting Van (OB VAN) meant for DBS Warri as a gift, the Permanent Secretary and the entire Board of Directors despite spirited efforts by both Unions to draw their attention to the decay currently being experienced in the Service, culminated into this petition”, they said.
They therefore called on the State Government to investigates why despite the budgetary allocations approved by the State House of Assembly to the station through the State Ministry of Information, and the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, DBS Warri cannot compete favorably with other industry players.
They also asked the State Government to look into the continue reign of Mr. Tunde Omonode as General Manager of DBS, Warri, despite the expiration of his tenure as it has affected the station negatively.
“Ascertain the complicity of the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, in the wrong doings in DBS Warri. He is alleged to be in custody of the station’s Outside Broadcast Van (OB VAN) parked at his official residence in the Commissioners’ Quarters, Asaba.
“Investigate why the recommendations of the DBS Warri Board of Directors that indicted the General Manager, Mr. Tunde Omonode Igrammar, for theft of the properties of the station was swept under the carpet.
‘Call for the immediate removal of the General Manager, Mr. Tunde Omonode Igrammar for gross incompetence, mismanagement and lack of focus to advance DBS Warri to meet up with modern broadcasting trends.
“The redeployment of the Head of Accounts/Finance Department, Mrs. Augusta-Gold Okoro. As the financial expert of the station, she has over the years acted as a ready tool for the financial recklessness and fraud in the station. It is on record that due to her dubious financial integrity, she has had running battles with past General Managers of the station that did not succumbed to her whims and caprices. A typical case in question, was her running battle of supremacy with a former General Manager of the station, Mr. Willy Sowho, which culminated in her transfer by the then Board of Directors to DBS Warri Marketing office in Lagos. In that particular case, she was transferred based on her indictment in a Seventeen Million Naira (N17, 000,000.00) fraud.
Recalls that staff of the station under RATTAWU and NUJ recently suspended a 3-Day Work-to-Rule to compel the Board and Management to address most of the immediate challenges affecting the progress of the station. At the expiration of the Work-to-Rule and with some interventions by the Board, the Unions again gave a 14-Day ultimatum to the Management to fully address the issues that have been raised in the past one year.
As of the time this report was filed, either the Information commissioner, Ukah or Omonode had responded to inquiries from our correspondents.
Meanwhile, BIGPEN ONLINE gathered that the House Committee on Information, Delta State House of Assembly in response to the unions’ petition dated April 1, 2019, has summoned the Delta State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah, Mr. Tunde Omonode and Chairmen of DBS Warri Chapter of RATTAWU as well as NUJ to appear before it on Monday April 15, 2019.