Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to name the governors he accused of stealing funds meant for local governments.
THE OBSERVERSTIMES reported that President Buhari, 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, accused state governors of misappropriating local government allocations.
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 wants 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 be 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 his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, denied ever taking funds meant for local councils.
Wike, who particularly described President Buhari’s allegation as defamation, challenged him to name those he claimed stole local government funds.
“I want to challenge Mr President, Mr President you are a leader and we believe as leaders you must come out and tell Nigerians, who are those committing this offence?
“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, who are those people? You know them, tell us. It is not good to say what you call class defamation, you say, 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, we are not part of them”, Wike said.
He added that as local government Chairman under Governor Peter Odili, his funds were never touched by the governor and, therefore, he has no reason to tamper with any money meant for local governments as governor.
On his part, Ortom said, “It is a logical fallacy to say that all governors are criminals; all governors are stealing from local governments.
“I join Governor Wike to say from 2015, let EFCC come, let ICPC come, let every other agency that can unearth this, as far as Benue State is concerned let them bring it out so that we know the people, there is no point generalising that all of us are evil people.
“I don’t do it, I didn’t like it when the Federal Government enacted something and said local government should have financial autonomy, but from that day all monies are paid to the local government, and no single naira has been paid through anyone, all monies that come from the federation account go straight to the individual councils.”