The Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has accused former Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, of embezzling over N3.5 billion state funds.
Mr. Amaechi said the money was paid to the former minister for the execution of some contracts in the state. He said despite receiving the money, the minister did not execute the contracts, a set of classroom blocks and a road in Rivers State.
“My administration gave Nyesom Wike, the contract worth N2 billion to construct Eneka road and he disappeared with the funds,” the governor said. “I even awarded 14 classroom blocks to Nyesom Wike at the cost of N112 million each. But, as you can see, he has not built even a building.”
Mr Amaechi, who spoke on Sunday during a courtesy call on the traditional ruler of Akpor Kingdom, Orlu Oriebe, said Mr. Wike “disappeared with the money without constructing the road.”
Messrs. Amaechi and Wike were political allies with the latter serving as a Chief of Staff to the governor. During Mr. Amaechi’s political battle with the presidency, Mr. Wike, who had been appointed minister, pledged loyalty to the president, thus leading to a battle for control of Rivers politics.
Mr. Amaechi has since defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, while Mr. Wike was recently elected the River State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for next year’s election.
In his response to the allegation, Mr Wike’s aide, Sam Nwakaudu, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Amaechi was recycling lies to prevent the former minister from winning the governorship election.
“It is the same recycled lies he has been using since Wike stopped working with him,” Mr. Nwakaudu said.
He said Mr. Amaechi has always failed to provide evidence to back up his claims and that if the governor has any proof of these embezzlements, he should publish them or hand them over to anti-corruption agencies.
“For every time he has made these accusations has failed to provide proof. He should provide evidence of the contract and hand them over to anti-corruption agencies. This particular issue has been used over and over again.
“What kind of contract do you pay the contractor N1.5 billion upfront? These are purely false allegations concocted by Mr Amaechi to divert attention from his failure as governor,” he said.
Mr. Nwakaudu also alleged that Mr. Amaechi used N19 billion of Rivers funds to finance the campaign organisation of the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. He said the governor has also approached the State House of Assembly for approval to get another N6 billion loan to fund the presidential campaign of the APC flag-bearer.
When asked to provide proof of these allegations, Mr. Nwakaudu said necessary documents have been sent to anti-corruption agencies for further investigations.
At the traditional ruler’s palace, Mr. Amaechi called on the people of Obio/Akpo Local Government Area, the most populated local government in the state, to vote for the APC in 2015 and ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan is voted out in the presidential election.
“He (Mr Wike) worships money, while I worship God. President Goodluck Jonathan does not like us, that is why we must vote out PDP and Jonathan back to Otuoke. I have developed Ikwerre people, even Nyesom Wike. I will not stop calling them thieves,” he said.
The governor announced that he has paid all outstanding salaries of civil servants in the state and that December Salaries would be paid between the 23rd and 24th to enable them prepare for Christmas.
Mr. Amaechi also used the occasion to lay stones at the foundation of the Akpor Traditional Centre at Ozuoba.
Thanking the governor, Mr Oriebe pledged his unflinching support for the APC and the governor.
“I appeal to you and wish to state categorically that no amount of intimidation, suppression that will make me deviate from supporting Governor Amaechi,” he said. “I have been facing a lot of opposition from the PDP. Thank God, Governor Amaechi has upgraded the Akpor stool to 1st class stool. Please, also consider other neighbouring communities.”