Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to name the governors he accused of stealing funds meant for local governments.
Buhari had in a speech at the parley with members of the Senior Executive Course 44 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), on Thursday, said governors were stealing local government allocations.
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The president said it beats anyone’s imagination how some state governors would collect money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council Chairman, who would further deplete the remittance in further pilfering of public resources.
“Speaking from personal experience, a Chief Executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained, the treatment of local governments, what they did, this is my personal experience. If the monies from the federal government to state governments is 100 million (naira), let’s put it at N100 million. N50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received 100 million.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wanted to and then the chairman of the local government will see how much he must pay in salaries, to hell goes development. Monies for the salaries will be given and the balance will put in his pocket. This is what is happening,” he had said.
But speaking at the inauguration of the Mgbuosimini internal road project in Port Harcourt, Rivers capital, on Friday, Wike and Ortom challenged Buhari to name those he claimed were stealing local government funds.
Wike denied ever taking funds meant for local government areas since he became governor in 2015, adding that Buhari’s comment could be termed as defamation.
“You said the governors are taking local government funds. I want to say in the name of almighty God, I have never touched local government funds one day. I have never and I have no reason to do that. So, Mr. President tell us who are those people? You know them, tell us. It is not good to make class defamation of saying governors. Please, I am not one of those governors.
“So, Mr President, please, spare me, tell Nigerians that the Integrity Governors are not part of them . We have integrity. And do us a favour to announce all those states that they are taking local government money because you have the record.”
Wike emphasised when he was a council chairman under the administration of former governor, Dr. Peter Odili, the governor then never touched their funds, and that is an example he has continued to practice.
He noted that ordinarily most of the road projects his administration had constructed should have been done by local government councils, but he has never asked any council for partnership to fund any project.
“When I was chairman of local government under Dr. Peter Odili, he never touched one Naira of local government funds. When I was chairman, nobody touched my funds and I see no reason why I will begin to touch other people’s funds.”
Governor Wike informed that his administration has also given optimal consideration to the payment of pension and gratuity.
According to him, over N3 Billio is spent monthly by the State to cater to that.
Performing the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and Internal Roads, Ortom aligned with Wike that President Buhari should name the governors misappropriating council funds.
He noted that by delivering such road project to the community, Wike had improved the wellbeing of the people.