By Olanrewaju Arotimi, Calabar
Rivers State Governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike has declared that the Federal Government did not disburse N34billion to Rivers State as Paris Fund Refund, as claimed by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
He challenged the Federal Government to publish the account where it paid N34billion in respect of the Paris Fund Refund due to Rivers State, saying that the level of lies, deceit and negative propaganda by the Federal Government has reached an embarrassing level.
Wike spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, during the thanksgiving service of the first session of the 8th synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocese of Niger Delta.
The governor said, “As I speak to you, no N34billion has been paid to Rivers State. I challenge the Federal Government to show Nigerians the account they paid the N34billion.”
He stated that the Federal Government released N14billion as Paris Fund Refund to Rivers State, adding that after protests that the state had been short-changed, the Federal Government released another N3billion to the state, totaling N17billion.
Wike explained that the State Government judiciously deployed the N17billion and monitored the use of the local government funds for the payment of outstanding salaries.
The governor accused the Federal Government of deliberately short-changing Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta states by ignoring the approved payment plan.
He said, “I read on the pages of newspapers that Rivers State received the highest amount of the refund of the Paris Club to the tune of N34billion. I want to say categorically, that is not correct.
“The President approved that every state and Local Government should receive 50 percent. They came to say that they cannot pay 50 percent, but they can pay 25percent. Now, the 25percent of the 50 percent, they paid Rivers State Government and Local Government Areas, N14billion. They short paid Rivers State, they short paid Akwa Ibom and they short paid Delta States, which are PDP States.
“We are the only three states that were short changed. They paid all other states completely.
So we started fighting. We raised alarm and they said we still have N3billion.
“For the remaining of the 25 per cent , they called a meeting. They now said, we cannot pay you that 25percent fully. We will pay you part of the 25percent now, pay part in September, pay part in December. If they pay part now, part in September and pay part in December; then it will mean that they have paid Rivers State Government, N34billion.
“If they say that, we are entitled to N34billion, Okay. Being entitled and paying the money are two different things”.
Wike assured the people of the State that the Paris Fund Refund will be used to pay for the Garrison-Trans Amadi-Elelenwo road, the Woji-Akpajo Bridge and road, the Elelenwo – Akpajo Road and other key projects across the state.
The governor said, “They should come to Rivers State and see what we are doing with our money in comparison with the “change” states.”
He charged Christians to actively participate in the 2019 General elections to determine their leaders, saying that Christians must discard the lukewarm attitude to governance.
The governor urged Church leaders to mobilise their members to register in the course of the ongoing voters registration.