From Joseph Obukata (The New Diplomat’s Correspondent)
The Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress APC, has disapproved of Governor Wike’s decision to approach the Rivers State House of Assembly to consider a request for the approval of a whooping sum of N18 billion for the construction of a flyover and road expansion project in Port Harcourt.
The APC, an opposition party in the State expressed its displeasure in a statement with the caption “Wike’s Decision to Approach the Rivers State House of Assembly: Proof of What We Have Always Known”, signed by Ogbonna Nwuke, Rivers APC Spokesman and made available to journalists.
The statement reads,“We have persistently maintained that some of the projects being executed by the Rivers State Government have not been properly backed by the power of appropriation. In order words, that some of the policies and programmes on which scarce funds belonging to taxpayers have been spent by Governor Nyesom Wike and his administration, were never part of the budget.
“We are saddened by the fact that it took our intervention for leaders, who have failed to comply with international best practices put in place for purposes of ensuring accountability, probity and transparency, to contemplate doing so.
“Our State operates a system of laws which makes the voice of the people a major plank of our democracy. Our system is built on the notion that the executive, legislature and the judiciary are independent. This universal principle which is revered by the Rivers people, cannot be swept under the carpet.
“We owe a sacred duty as Rivers people and the owners of this State to protect rights which are enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. As a political party, the APC is acutely aware of its historic mission, which to wit, includes the defense of the rights, freedoms and privileges of the people and their democratic institutions.
“The APC will in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution refuse to abandon its mission. This is our promise to, and social contract with the Rivers people.
“What played out today is proof of the fact that the APC is committed to the protection of the power of the people. It is a confirmation of what we have always known that the actions of the Rivers State have not been consistent, most of the time, with the provisions of our laws.
“We have insisted that what is transpiring in Rivers State amounts to a rape on democracy. We have maintained the views of the people, or their representatives, must be sought. Government cannot act as if it has the power to do anything, including the power which allows it to appropriate the power of appropriation which belongs to the State House of Assembly.
“Once again, we urge the Rivers people to gird their loins. The fight ahead is greater. It is the fight against impunity, abuse of office or misuse of power. It is a fight to protect democratic tenets and the struggle to ensure that the people remain the centre piece of our democracy.
“Now that Government has decided to start on a clean note, we believe it owes a duty to apologise to the Rivers people, especially for consistently acting in breach of canons, which preach inclusion and participation, respect for democratic processes and the rule of law as well as regular engagement between it and the people.
“Finally, we express our opposition to the use of a whooping sum of N18 billion on the construction of a flyover and road expansion project in Port Harcourt.
“That kind of money can be used judiciously in developing cottage industries and creating jobs, which would engage our youths and strengthen the economy. Roads leading to most of our Local Government Areas have completely packed up. They require to be fixed in order to end the misery of the people.
“To date, we remain a consumer State instead of a producer State, which depends solely on federal allocations. Government should fulfill its promise to embark on agriculture. Our people cannot continue to watch while their contemporaries elsewhere are motivated by their state governments to engage in productive activities”.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike in a letter read by the Speaker, Ikunyi-Owaji Ibani during plenary on Monday had requested the consent of the State House of Assembly to borrow N18 billion from Access Bank for the construction of a flyover and two major internal roads in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
“The N18 billion loan is expected to be channeled towards construction of a fourth flyover at the GRA Junction, dualisation of the popular Mummy B and Tombia internal roads,” Wike explained in his letter.
The Governor pleaded with the lawmakers to accord an accelerated consideration to his request.
On the method for repayment, Wike said it would be serviced through Internally Generated Revenue of the state targeted at the 2020/2023 fiscal year.
The 25 members of the House voted in support of the governor’s request as they were all of the view that the fund when released would be used to further complement infrastructural development in the state.
In his response, the Speaker stressed that the fund when accessed should be judiciously invested on the proposed project.