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The attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, has been called to a spate of baseless campaigns alleging all manner of false imputations that even a kindergartner would readily see through. The sole motive of this string of false and baseless claims by faceless and nondescript individuals is to malign the reputation of the Honourable Minister and divert his attention from the duties of ministering to the welfare of the good people of the Niger Delta region and to Nigerians in general. But the Honourable Minister would not be distracted.

A look at some of the false allegations would show how ludicrous they all are.

1) MINISTER IS NOT FUNDING NNPP GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE: One of the harebrained allegations is that the Minister is funding the election campaign of the NNPP governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State. This is a patent and ludicrous falsehood. The Honourable Minister cannot in any manner or form be linked with anti-party activity which the faceless smear campaigners are trying, unsuccessfully, to stick to his impeccable credentials as a loyal member of the APC. The Minister has over the years demonstrated his commitment and loyalty to his Party, the APC, which he has supported in various capacities at state and national levels in the past. He neither wearies nor wavers in his support for the Party.

2) MINISTER IS NOT A BLOOD RELATION TO AKWA IBOM STATE GOVERNOR: Perhaps the most laughable of the litany of false allegations against the Honourable Minister is the claim that he and the current governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, are blood relations, and that the Minister was the one who brought the Governor to the state in 2013 to replace him as Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Neither side of these claims is true. The Minister and the Governor of Akwa Ibom State share no filial ancestry. The kind of lies these faceless peddlers of falsehood tell show their disregard for commonsense and communal intelligence which they ought to know is hard to deceive. Their claim is also a flagrant denial of the fact of the recent history of the state, which is that Umana was replaced as SSG with Mr Emmanuel who later contested the gubernatorial election in 2015 on the platform of PDP against Umana who was the governorship candidate of the APC in the said election.

3) MINISTER IS NOT PAYING LEGAL FEES FOR COURT CASES CONCERNING APC PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN AKWA IBOM STATE: This is another false allegation against the Honourable Minister. Umana is not financing any case in court arising from the APC primary elections in Akwa Ibom State. It should be noted that the crisis in the state chapter of the APC predates the appointment of Umana as Minister. The irony is that those who instigated the crisis facing the Akwa Ibom Chapter of the APC are those crying wolf, and plotting to frustrate efforts being made by the Minister to return the state chapter of the Party to its past of unity, peace and concord.

4) The ongoing baseless smear campaign, it needs to be said, is actually an attack against the common interest of the Niger Delta people who would be the ultimate losers for any loss of focus on the all-important job at hand, which requires the urgent repositioning of the key federal institutions with the responsibility for a meaningful and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.

Iboro Otongaran
SA Media to Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs

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