N78.9bn refund: Cheers, jeers for Wike over ‘new song’ for Buhari

N78.9bn refund: Cheers, jeers for Wike over ‘new song’ for Buhari

Thursday, July 2, 2020 9:17 am


Buhari, Wike

…Wike denied political romance with Buhari, but admits appreciating him for the kind gesture
… Some callers into live radio talk shows cheered or jeered, but Wike smiles to the bank
Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

The recent widely publicized letter  by Governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike applauding President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the release of N78.9 billion refund to the state government has continue to generate reactions.

Wike, who has been an unrepentant  critic of the President, had previously accused him of bias, especially on the COVID-19 relief distribution to states.

But in a widely published advertorial following the recent release of N78.9 billion refund of money spent on construction of federal roads to the State, Wike described  President Buhari as ‘unbiased president of all the states of the federation.’

“I wish to on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State, appreciate and most sincerely, thank you for generously approving the refund of the sum of N78.9 billion to the Rivers State Government’s road projects in the State.

“Let me also, through you, thank the Vice President, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, as well as other members of the Federal Executive Council, for the support they provided to our request.

“Mr. President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also, demonstrated expressively that you are, indeed, a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.

“I assure you that the Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the developmental aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.

“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr. President to kindly oblige us a State visit when invited, to see what we have accomplished for the State and our people with the money.

“Once again, thank you Mr. President, and please be assured of our profound esteem, as always,” Mr Wike wrote in the letter.

However that was not  Wike’s opinion about Buhari just some few weeks ago. For instance, concerning the fight against Covid-19,in a broadcast on Sunday, April 5, 2020, Governor Wike had condemned the exclusion of Rivers State from the Federal Government grants in the fight against Coronavirus.
He noted that despite the exclusion of the state, Federal Government has continued to endanger the State by flying in expatriates to work in the oil companies.
He said: “It is quite unfortunate that the containment of Coronavirus has been politicized by the Federal Government. While Lagos State received a grant of N10 billion as a commercial hub, Rivers State as the nation’s oil and gas hub that produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth has not received any support from the Federal Government.
“One wonders why Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 States to give support.  Does it mean that support will come when a State has a record of over 50 infected persons before it gets support?  No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic.  No state is superior to others.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the Federal Government.  Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards Coronavirus”.
Analysts viewed Wike’s recent turn around is like a case of  “What money can do!”
Some of them in a phone call to a programme on a radio station in Port Harcourt applauded the letter as a show of good statesmanship on the part of Wike ‘because in politics interests are the underlying driving force.’
Others said Wike could also praised his former boss and predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, whose administration executed the projects that the Federal Government refunded the funds.
Others claim that if not for Wike’s continuous complain of marginalization that the Federal Government would not contemplated a refund.
Some others say that the refund of money shows that President Buhari does no discriminate against state based on political affiliation.
Meanwhile, during a recent appearance on national television, Wike denied romancing President Muhammadu Buhari over the return of 78.9 billion-naira Rivers State funds for projects completed.
 Wike who featured on a live television programme monitored from Port Harcourt, emphasised that any person who performs a good gesture, should be appreciated.
The governor who admitted that he placed an advert in a national newspaper, stressed that governance should be the watchword of any politician after the conclusion of elections.
On the All Progressives Congress, APC, crisis, the Governor said the political party had a number of politicians with deeply divided opinions on major policies and members, which often times led to the numerous judicial interventions.
Governor Wike said the judiciary should not be blamed for the crisis rocking the governing party at the centre.
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