Nyesom Wike and Samuel Ortom, the governors of Rivers and Benue states, have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to reveal governors who have been embezzling money from local governments.
On Friday, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Mgbuosimini Internal Roads in Rivers State, the governors who make up the PDP’s five “Integrity Governors” issued a challenge to the president.
Buhai on Thursday claimed that state governors steal funding intended for local governments during a speech he gave at the State House during the presidential debate for the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
But in response to the claim, Governor Wike asserted that since taking office in 2015, he has never diverted cash intended for the local government. As his statement could be construed as class-defamation, he pressed the president to name the governors who were engaging in that behavior.
“I want to challenge Mr. President, Mr. President you are a leader and we believe as leaders you must come out and tell Nigerians, who are those committing this offence? You said the governors are taking local government funds, I want to say in the name of Almighty God I have never touched local government funds one day, I have never and I have no reason to do that.
“So Mr. President who are those people? You know them, tell us. It is not good to say what you call class defamation, you say, governors, please I am not one of those governors, so Mr. President please spare me, tell Nigerians that the Integrity governors are not part of them, we have integrity, we are not part of them,” Wike said.
He continued by saying that as a local government chairman under Peter Odili, his funds were never touched, so, as a governor, he has no right to tamper with any funds designated for local governments.
Governor Ortom also denied tampering with funds intended for local government, claiming that their money is sent to them directly from the federation account, supporting his colleague’s assertion.
Ortom said, “It is a logical fallacy to say that all governors are criminals; all governors are stealing from local government. I join governor Wike to say from 2015, let EFCC come, let ICPC come, let every other agency that can unearth this, as far as Benue State is concerned let them bring it out so that we know the people, there is no point generalising that all of us are evil people.
“I don’t do it, I didn’t like it when the Federal Government enacted something and said local government should have financial autonomy, but from that day all monies are paid to the local government, and no single naira has been paid through anyone, all monies that come from the federation account go straight to the individual councils.”