Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to name governors who dip their hands into local government funds received from federation account.
This is as he dissociated himself from the governors accused of perpetrating the act.
Governor Wike was reacting to the accusation by President Muhammadu Buhari that governors had continued to deliberately deplete remittances released to various councils in their states.
The Rivers State governor, who spoke at the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and Internal Roads in Rumueme Kingdom of Obio-Akpor local government area on Friday, said the generalisation done by President Buhari was unfair.
The governor stated that since 2015, he had never had any reason to tamper with local government funds.
He therefore urged the president to, as a true leader, tell Nigerians those governors pilfering council funds.
“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 records.”
Governor Wike emphasised that when he was a council chairman under the administration of former governor, Dr. Peter Odili, the governor then never touched their funds, and that was an example he had 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 had 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 had also given optimal consideration to the payment of pension and gratuity.
According to him, over N3 billion was spent monthly by the state to cater for that concern.
Commenting on the Mgbuosimini roads, Governor Wike said the inauguration event was remarkable because he had always enjoyed over 98% support from the Rumueme kingdom.
“In Rumueme Kingdom, I have always had 98 per cent support. And I have told them, there is nothing within my powers that I can do, I will not do for them.”
The governor recounted that he had sited Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School, the Judges Quarters, relocated the slaughter from Trans-Amadi to the Rumueme kingdom and elevated the traditional stool to first class status.
“It is the benefit and dividend of democracy. So, you have done well for me. I will never turn my back against you. Rumueme people, God will continue to bless you for all you have done for me in my political career.”
Governor Wike also spoke about the employment into the state civil service soon and assured Rumueme people of filling their quota.
The governor also urged them to extend their support to Peoples Democratic party, PDP, governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, and all senatorial, House of Representatives and State Assembly candidates of the party in the 2023 election.
Performing the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and Internal Roads, Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom aligned with governor Wike that President Buhari should name the governors misappropriating council funds.
He noted that by delivering such road project to the community, governor Wike had improved the wellbeing of the people.
“Governor Wike, I want to thank you for setting the pace in project execution. God will bless you. Like has been said, the essence of government apart from providing security for life and property, it is to ensure welfare, which you are doing here.”
Governor Ortom mentioned that commissioning of projects was one virtue he learnt from Governor Wike.
That, he said, had helped him to be more visible and seen to be a governor who delivered project too.
“One thing that I can say amongst others that I have learned from my brother, the governor of Rivers State is his commissioning of projects. Because if you don’t do it, your enemies will go out there to say this is the project they have done.
“And this is the blackmail that I faced back home in Benue State until Governor Wike told me that look, you have to start commissioning projects.”
Providing the description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works Dr. Alabo Dakorinima George-Kelly said the Mgbuosimini Ring and Internal Roads project is approximately 6km long, has an average width of 7.3 meters and 8km of drains length with 100 millimetre asphaltic thickness.
Dr. George-Kelly emphasised that the roads are built to last for a long time, and offers such benefits of improving the value of property in the area, ease traffic flow and serve as an alternate traffic route for the people.
In his address, chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, George Ariolu recalled that before the roads were reconstructed, most businesses and tenants left the community because of the deplorable condition of the roads.
But the situation now, he noted, was a return of a bustling commercial activities and delightful socio-cultural life.
Speaking on behalf of the contractor, Ferotex construction company, Mr. Jack Afara, said the roads had been done with highest standard of road construction.
He thanked the Rivers State governor for entrusting the company with the project and several others.