Rivers Aircraft: Wike Defends Position, Denies Putting Rivers Into Debt, Other Allegations

Rivers Aircraft: Wike Defends Position, Denies Putting Rivers Into Debt, Other Allegations

He also rejected claims by officials of the Amaechi administration that handover notes were left for his government and that he had pushed the state into debt.
The governor spoke about the state-owned aircraft and other issues at a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday.
He was reacting to comments attributed to a former Transport Commissioner in Rivers State, Tolofari George.
The former transport commissioner in the state was quoted to have accused Governor Wike of lying when he said Amaechi, who is now Transport Minister, abandoned the state’s aircraft in Germany for 10 years.
According to reports, George accused Governor Wike of trying to malign and attack Amaechi with his comments about the aircraft.
But Governor Wike dismissed the comments, explaining that contrary to claims by George that there was a handover containing details about the plane, that did not happen
“All of us are aware that there was no handover to this government,” he said.
George had been quoted as saying the information concerning the plane was in the handover notes of the Ministry of Transport. Governor Wike also dismissed that, explaining that when former President Goodluck Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari, it was clear.
“If we had had a handover, we would have known what to do,” he said. He challenged the former transport commissioner to tell the people where the handover note is.
According to Governor Wike, it was in 2016 that his administration started getting intelligence that the legacy jet was in Germany.
He explained that after following up with the situation regarding the plane through 2017 and 2018, he decided to go to Germany himself to observe the work being done on the plane.
Let me just tell you people the whole essence of why they took the plane to that area (Germany). The former governor felt that he was going to install a governor in 2015. If Dakuku had become governor, that was just the end of the plane.”
He said it was because that did not happen that the state is getting the plane back. He put the expected return date as March. Governor Wike also rejected claims that he had indebted the state by N300 billion.
He said those behind the allegations were the ones with cases to answer.
“As I speak to you, authoritatively, if there is any money we borrowed from the bank, we must pay all before the end of our tenure,” he said to applause from those present at the meeting.
“The last loan we took from Zenith Bank was N25 billion, and the loan will be terminated in April 2023 because it is a monthly deduction paid. So, it is tenured.
“Another bank we bank with is Access Bank. We took N10 billion from Access Bank; we pay N900 million every month. So, before the end of this year, we are done with that N10 billion.”
Governor Wike added that the only other money that can be talked about is the funds that the Central Bank of Nigeria gives to states such as infrastructure funds. He explained that the funds have to be paid over 20 years.
“There will be a moratorium of three years. Then you start paying after three years and they are collecting N50 million every month. What is N50 million every month?” the governor questioned.

Illegal Bunkering

Governor Wike commended the various council chairman in the state for their efforts in helping the government fight against illegal bunkering.
He said the illegal activities had had so much negative impact on the state.
“I am sure that our people will appreciate that most council chairman are living up to their responsibilities in supporting the state,” the governor said. “So, we plead that everybody should as a matter of concern continue to give them support.
“It is not a fight against any ethnic group. It is a fight against crime, it is a fight against sabotage of the national economy, it is a fight against inflicting health injuries on all of us.”
As a result, he said every right-thinking person living in Rivers or who is from the state should not hesitate in supporting the fight against illegal bunkering.
“The fight against illegal bunkering has started. It will not end until we completely win the war. Yes, we are winning but we have not completely won.”
He vowed that anyone in the state with tacit support for those behind the bunkering, when identified, would be made to face the law.

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