The controversy concerning Rivers State’s treasury took a different dimension on Saturday when Governor Nyesom Wike disagreed with his predecessor’s insistence that he left N7.5bn cash in the state’s coffers.
Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi had, in a statement, said a total of N7.5bn cash was left behind as the balances for the state’s internally generated revenue account with Skye Bank; the Federal Account Allocation Committee accounts with Zenith Bank and Access Bank; and the state’s Reserve Funds in First Bank.
But Wike, on Saturday, dismissed Amaechi’s claim and asked why students under the state’s scholarship scheme were not paid their tuition fees and other allowances.
According to the governor, a fraction of N7.5bn would have saved the final-year students abroad the trauma of standing the risk of being sent back home from their various foreign universities.
Wike, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Opunabo Inko-Tariah, recalled when he had to send the sum of N713m to various foreign universities for Rivers students’ tuition fees and other allowances.
He said, “If he (Amaechi) is saying he left N7.5bn, why did he fail to pay Rivers students studying abroad under the state government’s scholarship scheme, apart from the fact that pensioners were owed between six and eight months’ pension arrears?
“The former governor has been inconsistent in the amount he said he left in the treasury. On one hand, he would say he left N7.5bn, and in the next breath, he would say he left N10bn.
“But we have been consistent in saying we met an empty treasury with huge debts to pay. Civil servants, footballers (Rivers Angels and Dolphins) and contractors were owed. But we thank God that we started paying them after we settled in. We have made our point and we are consistent about it.”
However, Amaechi disagreed with Wike, saying it is wrong for the governor to measure the non-payment of students and contractors with his claim that he (Amaechi) left funds in the state coffers.
Amaechi, who spoke through his former aide, Mr. Tony Okocha, said, “Wike should know that anything about government is about procedures and processes. That students abroad were not paid does not mean that there were no funds in the state treasury. (Punch)