Former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi yesterday rejected the Justice George Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry report indicting him of diverting N53billion out of N57 billion of the State Reserve Fund while accusing his successor, Nyesom Wike of trying to stop his ministerial confirmation.
According to Amaechi, no N53billion cash was missing during his tenure as the funds were from the Rivers State Reserve Fund which were duly approved by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
He accused Governor Nyesom Wike of resorting to last-ditch effort to scuttle his nomination as a minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ex-governor, who is now a ministerial nominee, made the clarification in a statement by his Media Office last night in Abuja.
The statement said: “The attention of the media office of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has been drawn to a statement credited to the chairman of Mr. Nyesom Wike’s invidious panel of inquiry.
“The statement credited to the panel’s chairman Justice Omeriji of a “missing” N53 billion is unfortunate and leaves much to be desired.
“The mischief is all the more evident as the funds referred to are funds from the Rivers State reserve fund which was duly approved by the Rivers State House of Assembly and whose expenditure were duly captured and accounted for.
“Ordinarily we might not have responded to the mischief of Mr. Wike, knowing that having failed with his various desperate tactics to stop the nomination of the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi as a minister he has embarked on this last-ditch effort which is his trump card in the hope that it will diminish the former governors towering stature as a statesman and honest Nigerian.”
The ex-governor explained why it became inevitable for his administration to draw from the Reserve Fund.
He added: “However in keeping with Governor Amaechi’s ethos of transparent and accountable leadership we will again repeat the facts of the matter. Between 2013 and early 2015 revenue accruing to the government of Rivers state was cut in half due to swindling federal allocation to states.
“From about an average of N20 billion, the state began receiving between N9billion and N10 billion. By the middle of the first quarter of 2015 the state revenue dipped to as low as N6 billion. Salaries alone stood at over N9 billion besides other expenses.
“Government set aside the reserve fund as a rainy day fund and had needed to fall back to it to find salaries and projects.
“The details of the expenditure were very clearly captured and this information which was already in the public domain was shared with the incoming and the Omeriji panel. “
Amaechi asked Governor Nyesom Wike to stop playing to the gallery.
The statement said: “Government business should be transparent and honest and if indeed Mr. Nyesom Wike understand that basics of governance then he should know that rather than playing to the gallery with his red herring of a panel, he should simply go to court and prove his spurious allegations of corruption to court if he is sure there is corruption. “Spending resources left behind for the betterment of Rivers people by a prudent and thrifty government on frivolities is indeed irresponsible and unbecoming for a person who aspires to public office especially that of the exalted office of governor.
“ We would counsel Mr. Wike to focus on the job at hand and try to make something of the few days he has before he leaves Brick House, per adventure he might yet make some positive impact on the minds of Rivers people.”