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Fubara tackles Wike over Rivers heavy debt


The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Tuesday, stated that his administration inherited a huge debt burden on projects embarked upon by the immediate-past administration of Nyesom Wike.

Fubara said several contractors, who handled different projects for Wike’s administration were coming for their balance payment running into billions.

The disclosure opened a new vista in the crisis between the governor and his predecessor  and estranged godfather,Wike.

The immediate-past governor, it will be recalled, was dubbed “Mr Projects” as he embarked on a lot of projects, including the construction of 12 flyovers and invited dignitaries, including President Bola Tinubu, to have them inaugurated before he handed over to his successor.

Wike, at the time, also claimed that he had paid for the projects and, on many occasions, thanked former President Muhammadu Buhari for paying the arrears of the 13 per cent allocation to the Niger Delta states owed them since 1999.

The revelation of huge debts by Fubara, who was the state’s Accountant-General during Wike’s tenure, came a day he declared his intention to probe Wike’s eight-year administration.

Speaking on Monday during the swearing-in of Dagogo Iboroma as the new Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Fubara disclosed plans to set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate how the affairs of governance were conducted in the state before he assumed office.

Further to his Monday stance,  Fubara, during the inauguration of the reconstructed 10.89km Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road in the Eleme Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday, lamented that the contractors had been coming to demand their balance payment.

At the ceremony was the Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, as the special guest.

Fubara stated, “This is to let the world know that if there is one problem this administration has, it is the huge debt burden. For most of the projects that are being inaugurated, the contractors are coming for their balance-payment and it is running into billions.

“I have said that I don’t want to talk. I didn’t want to talk because I was part of that system. But, when you keep pushing me to talk, I will say it so that the people will know the true situation of things and be properly informed.”

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor stressed how baffling the debts were, with the public impression of a clean balance sheet maintained with contractors.

Fubara, however, expressed delight over the commencement of the celebration of his administration’s first anniversary with the inauguration of a road project in Eleme, where he lived when he started his working life.

The governor said the road was awarded on August 14, 2023 to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation at the cost of N6.7bn.

“I am happy to be here and to join the good people of Rivers State to start this wonderful celebration of our first anniversary in the face of all the troubles. It shows that we are still focused, not minding the level of distractions.

“This road was awarded to CCECC as a contractor. It was awarded on the 14th day of August, 2023. I believe that the 14th of August was within my tenure. I am not saying ‘I’, but it was this administration that awarded it.

“This project was awarded at the cost of N6.7bn, and I can say boldly that no kobo is remaining. We’ve paid the contractor its complete sum. Our gathering here is to tell our people that their problem is our problem,” the governor said.

 Fubara described the road as a bypass to be used by motorists to avoid the deplorable sections of the East-West Road now under reconstruction.

He said embarking on the road project was to lend support to the Federal Government in its efforts to give hope to Nigerians and make life better for the people.

Fubara said: “What we are doing today, is it not helping the Federal Government? Is it not a show that this government has the interest of the people at heart and still supporting and doing everything to make the Federal Government succeed?

“So, when people come out and say some funny things, I laugh. Why are we doing this? When this administration came on board, Mr President christened his mantra ‘Renewed Hope’ to give Nigerians hope.

“What we are doing today in this state is giving our people hope, to complement what Mr President is doing at the national level. It is not about social media. We are talking about action, genuine actions that make a positive impact in the lives of our people.”

Fubara alluded to an unnamed person who, he said, insinuated that on the assumption of office, he started a fight against the Federal Government and wondered about the veracity of such an allegation.

“We are talking about the Federal Government that is giving us support, and we appreciate the support. But there is a rat in the house that is eating the bags of garri. So, you can imagine such a situation,” he said.

Explaining further, the governor alleged that someone was stoking the crisis to distract both the state and federal governments from delivering the promises to give the people hope and leave lasting legacies, impactful policies and programmes for posterity.

Fubara thanked the people of Eleme for their support during the period of the execution of the project, as, according to him, the contractor never complained of any challenges from the communities.

The governor explained the rationale behind the invitation extended to Governor Otti to inaugurate the project, as he described him as a pragmatic man.

Fubara said, “I invited him (Otti) because he is not an artificial integrity man. He is an action-integrity man. He is not like the one who would gather people to talk because they just want to talk.

Fubara said, “I invited him (Otti) because he is not an artificial integrity man. He is an action-integrity man. He is not like the one who would gather people to talk because they just want to talk.https://422b1cbd7554030bc692fee21b5db429.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html?n=0

“He is a man who came into office in the face of difficulties and challenges, just like we are here, but he is making an impact in the lives of Abians.

“So, I will continue to identify with good governance. I will continue to identify with the people who want to make an impact in the lives of the people. Our government, as we promised you on day one, is the people first.”

Performing the inauguration of the project,  Otti congratulated Fubara on the stride and for remembering to execute a road project in the Eleme community where he once lived.

Otti stated, “I have always said that leadership is about service. Anytime leadership departs from service, then you are getting it wrong.

“Service should be service to the people, not service to self or a few interests. Anytime you are serving a few people rather than the majority, you need to go and look at yourself again.

“So, for me, it’s all about good governance. Clearly, Governor Fubara came prepared, and I don’t believe that any distraction is enough to take his focus away from improving the welfare and interest of the people.

“I can assure you, Rivers people, that the dividend of democracy that you are seeing now is still a dress rehearsal. It is early in the morning, and I am sure that in no distant future, you will be seeing more.”

Otti charged the people of Eleme and Rivers State to continue to support Fubara to do even more.

He said, “No matter how the dice is flipped, power belongs to God. No human can arrogate to himself the capacity to give power, except you have the capacity to give life. Of course, you can take life, but you cannot give it.”

A former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Orji Ngofa, acknowledged that the project, popularly known as the Old Bori Road, had collapsed as a result of the heavy vehicular traffic taken off the East-West Road.

Ngofa thanked Fubara for reconstructing the entire stretch of the road, adding that it would improve the well-being of the people, while also serving the transportation and economic needs of all users of the road.

At the ceremony, the Oneh-Eh Eleme, Chief Philip Obele, conferred on  Fubara the traditional title of Emere Ajuri Oneh of Eleme (meaning King of Peace of Eleme Kingdom).

Credit: Punch

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