State government has expressed its intention to sell off the Daily Star Newspaper. Kester Agbowo, the state commissioner for budget and planning, while explaining reasons for the non-allocation to the newspaper for rehabilitation, called on journalists to forward their proposal to buy the enterprise.
“Come up with a consortium to come and take up the Daily Star, that is our expectation because you know and have the potentials. You are the best people to market it. Enugu State wants to sell it off, so if you know an investor who is interested let the investor come forward,” Agbowo said.
Governments all over the world are divesting from investment, the commissioner said, saying government is not a good business manager that is why Enugu State government selected from inception some of its industries and put them forward for PPP or privatisation.
Facilities owned by the publishing company include a journalism training school, exercise book making section, and the printing press capable of engaging more workers and internally generating revenue for the state.
Recently, some people, including journalists in Enugu were surprised at the NUJ press centre when the state commissioner for finance, Godson Nnadi, explained the financial allocations to the state ministries and agencies during the state budget breakdown where he said nothing was allocated to the newspaper industry in the 2014 budget.
It would be recalled that the state government recently spent some money to rehabilitate and digitalise the state-owned radio and TV houses to a very high standard.
“The argument is not that rehabilitating the TV and radio stations is not good, but that the government should not kill such an old organisation – Daily Star that was the symbol of the South-East zone and had in the past been used to champion the course of the people,” according to Tony Mba, an analyst in Enugu.
The state budget size for the 2014 fiscal year called “Budget of Actualisation” is N93 billion.
One of the outstanding fact in the budget breakdown was the reduction in the recurrent expenditure and releasing more money for capital projects, which was the reverse of the norm in most state budgets. However, out of the total purse for the capital expenditure, economic sector has the highest allocation of N33 billion, while social services has the second highest allocation with N13 billion.
Surprisingly, rehabilitation of Enugu State Printing and Publishing Company – Daily Star got 10e, showing that it has no allocation.