Nigeria News: Rivers State on the Verge of Perpetual Corruption and Deceit

By Mosop Media

Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State is having hard time explaining the use of fiscal provisions for public projects that are missing. The first supplementary budget application totaling N177.930 billion is in doubt as to applicability (2008 budget of Rivers State). The Rivers State N554.081 billion 2008 budget compared to combined N484.199 billion for Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta States for the same 2008 fiscal period left sour taste in the mouth. The three other States were equally troubled by security concerns, but without unrestrained supplementary appropriations. The figures and applicability of external fiscal assistance by federal and external sources to Rivers State, as well remain uncertain. Rivers State received nearly N1.5 trillion by way of statutory allocations and other known sources in less than four years as compared to a total similar receipt of N708 billion by former Governor Peter Odili in eight years (HDPTT, 2011).

The 2011 April governorship election Candidate of Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Rivers State, Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo said as governor he would set up new fiscal mechanisms to maximize resources for actual development. “I want to Rivers State forward and the citizens should not be consumed by past budget misappropriations. Those politicians responsible should be paid back in the April 2011 governorship election as they use suspected loots to campaign for votes. I'm not saying voters should be complacent about corrupt practices, by all means, reject corruption, but through the ballot box and the next government will respond. Only voters can show own best interests by the way they chose new ideas, budget focus and new leadership styles over fraud and incompetence.

HDP Technical Review Team had not only released details of imminent collapse of government projects in Rivers State for lack of proper planning and use of substandard building materials for road, school and health center buildings; but unfolded serious concerns posed by budget misappropriations and outright deceit since from 2008. In a related publication released as the 2009 Social Development Integrated Center (Social Action) report, the NDCBP described the budget of Governor Amaechi as “fast becoming a white elephant project.” NDCBP is the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform. The NDCBP comprise civil society organizations, including NGOs and community groups that promote mass mobilization to combat corruption in public offices in the states and local government councils of the Niger Delta.

The Amaechi applicability of budget figures, in entirety since 2008, has been questionable, but the magnitude of how far the trend has gone, and how deceitful it has been didn't sink in until recently, when the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) Technical Team released its first report on projects and budgets of Governor Amaechi of Rivers State. The budget report tagged “On the Verge of Perpetual Corruption and Deceit”, the scrutiny revealed how N177 billion was rushed through the Rivers State House of Assembly in 2008; accounting for 50 per cent supplementary of original budget without specific budgetary means for accountability as per original figure of N377.081. The total of N312.672 billion (82.90%) allocation for capital votes could not be verified as to application.

Governor Amaechi considered as having relationship with militant groups that posed insecurity, except Ateke Tom factor slated for government opposition and security vote utilization. Ateke Tom identified Amaechi as part of the problem, not solution; thus security vote might have primarily been used to pacify a single factor, not other friendly militant groups. Amaechi was part of the Militancy for eight consecutive years as the sole lawmaker, being the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly. Genuine security vote applicability raises suspicion, which only Amaechi can clear.

MOSOP Media quoting NDCBP publication (PP 33-34 of 2009) found that N150 million was allocated to expansion of the Rivers State Central Library and provision of books in the 2008 budget, which had been equally allocated N300 million in 2007. The expansion and books were not seen by library officials. Renovation of Family Support Programme (FSP) hostel, Hostel for the Handicapped,, Senior Secondary, Creek Road, Port Harcourt with various fiscal provisions were not carried out during the period. There was no construction of health centre at Mbgoshimini area in Port Harcourt, despite the budgeting of N100 million for the project in 2008 fiscal year. The designated site was overgrown with weeds.