Again, Semenitari Takes On Wike
…Faults Rivers Governor's Allegations With Explanations
SAN FRANCISCO, June 22, (THEWILL) –Immediate past Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Tuesday, again slammed the State governor, Nyesom Wike, over his attacks on former Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the past administration.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, Semenitari faulted Wike's allegations made on Monday, saying “These allegations are the same ones that Mr. Wike set up a commission of inquiry to investigate.”
The former Commissioner also demanded an apology from Wike over the vandalisation of her personal properties by state agents.
According to Semenitari, “On Monday, June 22, Mr. Nyesom Wike, briefed the media and made numerous allegations. These allegations are the same ones that Mr. Wike set up a commission of inquiry to investigate.
“However in keeping with Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi's commitment to good governance and to transparent and accountable stewardship to Rivers people, we will reiterate the facts.”
On the N150bn owed Ministry of Works contractors, Semenitari said: “Rt.Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi inherited a state that was comatose and in dire need of infrastructure. Years of militancy and criminality had forced government and business in Rivers State to a standstill. He therefore embarked on land reclamation in our riverine communities and the massive construction of roads, bridges and interchanges all over Rivers State.
“Realising that there is a direct link between state of infrastructure and the growth rate of any economy, it is to the credit of the Amaechi administration that by the time he was leaving office, he had completed 90 per cent of the Phase 1A of the Rivers State Monorail, completed two major interchanges, two flyovers, 25 bridges, and five shore protection projects. He also completed 890 kilometres of the on-going 1,424 kilometres of road projects across the state.
“There are over six land reclamation/shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma, Abalama, Olumbie/Owukiri Island, and Oba-Ama-Okrika with over 1,140,000km completed. Out of the roads completed, some of these were federal roads for which the Rivers state Government was owed N108billion, Mr. Wike as Minister of State for Education was among those who prevented former President Goodluck Jonathan from paying the Rivers State Government back these funds.
“It is on record that other states like Akwa Ibom and Abia received repayment for the federal roads they constructed. As at when Governor Amaechi was leaving office, the debts owed the contractors in the Ministry of Works, which were for ongoing road projects totaled N44, 942,354,44.10.”
On the N15bn owed to Zenith bank, the former Commissioner explained: “Governor Amaechi in his valedictory address to Rivers people announced the loans owed to various banks. I will herein reproduce the excerpts of that speech “Today, Rivers state is the least indebted state with a loan portfolio of N17.7 billion to banks owed as follows: Agriculture loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria – N2 billion; Zenith bank plc – N15.7 billion.” This was the status as at May 27th. The repayment for the loans is via an irrevocable standing order and so will have reduced as at today.”
Speaking on the Sale of Power projects, she said: “ For the records, the Government of Rivers State under Dr. Peter Odili made substantial investment in Electric Power related Projects with the aim of mitigating the malaise of inadequate power supply. The Projects included generation (Omoku and Trans-Amadi 1), transmission and distribution interventions. Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on assumption of office recognised the importance of improved electric power supply in the socio-economy regeneration of the State.
“At the time Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi assumed office, of the 350 Megawatts (MW) total capacity generation assets invested by the State, only 70MW (equivalent to about 20 per cent) was available. With enthusiasm, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi ramped up the efficiency to 77 per cent availability including injecting another 360MW Green Field Generation Project at Afam, of which 180MW have been commissioned and is in commercial operation. To mitigate the swing in efficiency and its debilitating impact on the economy, the State Government sought private sector operators and sold 70 per cent equity stake in the power generating assets' company to NG Power HPS.
“For the transaction, the State Government adopted the same model as the Federal Government in the sale Egbin Power Plant. The sale was at a price per MW higher than all the privatisation MW rate done by the Federal Government. The proceeds from sale of the equity in the power generating assets' company was captured as income in the 2014 Appropriation Law and deployed into funding capital projects as appropriated.”
On the issues raised by Wike on salaries Of Civil Servants, Semenitari said: ”All civil servants received their March salaries while payment for April salaries had commenced by the time the administration was winding down. Again I reproduce for the avoidance of doubt, excerpts of Governor Amaechi's valedictory speech in this regard. “As at today, we have commenced the payment of April salaries and parastatal pensions. We have made the requisite provisions and expect all salary payments to be concluded as funds are received.”
On debts owed refuse contractors, she said: “Waste management contractors were being owed N1.6bn amounting to four months of arrears as at when Governor Amaechi left office. Instruction for the payment of N488 million was with Zenith bank as at the 27th of May.”
She stated further: “ Sharks/Dolphin: The three clubs: Sharks, Dolphins and Rivers Angels were in arrears of seven months by the time governor Amaechi left government. Before leaving office Amaechi approved the payment of seven months arrears to the team but this was held back along with approved payments that the banks did not pay. (Recall that there were funds available for this payment but Mr. Wike had directed all banks doing business with the Rivers State government not to honour its payment instructions.)
“Until revenue receipts began to thin down from the federation account, the Rivers state government was paying N50million every month as welfare package for the teams.”
“Pension: With regards to our pension arrears, the Amaechi administration inherited pension arrears of over N4.5Bn. By the time he was leaving office, he was owing three months of pension arrears to the main stream and two months of parastatal pensions”
“No Handover notes: There is no truth in this as all commissioners and heads of MDA's submitted their handover notes to the Secretary to State Government who forwarded same to the Head of the State Civil Service as is appropriate. Governor Amaechi also directed the Deputy Governor of Rivers State Engr. Tele Ikuru to be the liaison between the outgoing administration and the incoming one. Engr. Ikuru as Deputy Chairman of the state Executive Governor and second man in government had all facts necessary to brief the incoming administration. He also had unfettered access to government house and to every commissioner and head of Ministry Department or Agency
“Commission Of Enquiry Into The Amaechi Years: We would like to believe Mr. Wike that this is not a witch hunt but his actions and body language speak differently.”
“Forceful Repossession Of Lexus Jeep From Mrs. Ibim Semenitari: I find it strange that Mr. Wike says that I was contacted by security agencies. It might have been necessary that he provides proof of such contact. I am also shocked that he conveniently failed to acknowledge that it was an 8-year-old car and that it was not factory proofed. He also failed to state that it was given to me after several threats to my life because of my job description and that this isn’t strange as he himself as chief of staff was aware that there are political office holders who are allotted official vehicles from government house as the need or circumstances may dictate. Over and beyond all this , can Mr. Wike please confirm if as commissioner I am entitled to leave with the official cars used during my tenure and if indeed he as chief of staff and later minister of state did so.
“However I shall for purposes of clarity rehash the main thrust of my earlier statement:
▪ At no time was I contacted by the Rivers state government or any of its agents or anyone purporting to be working for it with regards to any car in my possession
▪ The Vehicle was allocated to me duly and I would definitely have responded to any queries were any raised
▪ The vehicle, which I clearly stated belonged to my husband, was a Range Rover jeep. At no time did I claim that the Lexus jeep belonged to my husband.
▪ My property was damaged and my home forceful entered into by persons who claimed to be Government House Police without any legal authorisation. It therefore would not be wrong for Mr. Wike in good faith and for reasons of justice and fairness to apologise for the vandalisation of my property by agents purporting to act on his behalf.
“As a citizen of Rivers State I do have a right to protection from a person sitting as Governor of Rivers State regardless of my political affiliation or my voting pattern. The Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Administration was one committed to the service of Rivers people. Governor Amaechi and all officials who served with him will always be grateful for any opportunity given to them to set the records straight as their pledge then and now remains to “render transparent and accountable stewardship.”
“ It would be helpful if Mr. Wike while he sits as governor keeps his eye on the ball by striving to protect the lives and property of Rivers people and enhance their quality of life. This is the least he can do to assuage the pains Rivers people were forced to bear in one of the most violent elections the state had ever witnessed.”