* Wike says some LGAs got N5Bn per year but executed no single project
By Codratus Godson
The 23 elected local councils in Rivers State just escaped from the whiskers due to the recent ruling of the Supreme Court striping governors of power to sack them.
Gov Nyesom Wike personally admitted this much on Monday, August 5, 2019, when he received the audit report of the councils carried out by a probe panel he set u, headed by his deputy, Haryy Ipalibo Banigo.
Wike said the Supreme Court ruling had made it impossible for him to apply the hammer but promised to use other methods to catch the monkey. He said he would rather follow the due process of the law in implementing the report of the Committee set up to investigate and audit the financial transactions of the 23 Local Government Councils.
Gov Wike said that the Rivers State Government would abide by the Supreme Court judgment that state governors cannot dissolve elected councils. He noted that the report presented by the committee exposed a scandalous rot in the local government system.
He said: “The Supreme Court has said that you cannot dissolve elected councils. We will obey the Supreme Court judgment on that matter. But we shall take action on the areas where we are empowered by law to act. All the treasurers, heads of personnel management and other civil servants involved in illegal financial transactions will be sanctioned.
“I have read the preliminary report. It is bad. The report is scandalous. Tomorrow, they will say that I don’t remember those who fought for me. Did you fight for me so that you can destroy the system?”
Gov Wike said LGA chairmen were under obligation to work for their people and deliver dividends of democracy to improve their lives. “I am quite satisfied with what the committee has done. It is not political and things must be done the right way. We cannot continue to play. The problem with this country is that we take things for granted
“As a Local Government Council Chairman, I created record as a performer. I did projects and worked for our people. I won all the awards. If I was going to them to bring money, I wouldn’t get up to set up the committee. They would have indicted me. Some councils take up to N2Bn annually and there is a council that gets up to N5Bn annually, yet no project”, he said.
The governor urged council chairmen and top government officials to always work to develop their communities and leave worthy legacies. He commended the committee for working in line with their terms of reference. He said that they focused on the task without attracting any form of scandal.
The governor noted that he is not out to witch-hunt anyone, but remained committed to the development of Rivers State and the entrenchment of due process.
Earlier, chairman of the committee set up to investigate and audit the financial transactions of the 23 LGAs and Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Harry Banigo, thanked Gov Wike for his commitment to the development of Rivers State. She said to ensure professionalism, the committee engaged three auditing firms to achieve the right results.
The deputy governor said all the council chairmen and relevant officials participated in the exercise and that the committee worked in line with best practices for the good of Rivers State.