Amid scarce resources, Rivers governor Wike donates N2.1bn to four states in 15 months

Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers state, has donated no less than N2.1 billion to 4 states and individuals in 15 months.

According to reports, the donations were made between January 2021, and October 2022.

On January 20, 2021, Wike pledged the sum of N500m to support his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, in rebuilding the Sokoto Central Market, which was gutted by fire.

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The amount was N470m higher than the N30m donated by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State to the victims of the inferno.

The Rivers governor had said part of the N500m was meant to support the victims of the disaster, adding that his administration “will do all it takes to ensure that the affected market is reconstructed and becomes functional”.

In May 2021, the governor pledged the sum of N600m when he performed the groundbreaking of the Akwa Ibom Teaching Hospital at Awa in the Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

On February 14, 2022, he donated N500m to the Bayelsa State Medical Science University in Yenagoa, the state capital, and three months later, donated N200 million to displaced victims of banditry in Kaduna during his consultation to seek the 2023 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, Wike pledged the sum of N300m to support the “laudable projects” of wives of Lagos State officials at a conference organised by the women in Lagos.

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The governor’s gale of donations drew the ire of organised labour which slammed the state government for adorning the “robe of Father Christmas” to other states at the expense of workers and retirees in Rivers.

In an interview with PUNCH, the opposition All Progressives Congress described the donations as a waste of resources and a sign of a lack of vision on the part of the state government at a time the state was faced with challenges.

The spokesperson of the party, Darlington Nwauju, said, “For us, as a party, we believe it is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. It also shows clearly that there is a lack of vision on the part of the government.

The governor chose to make these frivolous donations to the detriment of the people of the state. We still have issues with outstanding pension arrears, and teachers of demonstration secondary schools who have not been paid for a period of five years.

“I also got a report this afternoon (Friday) that the Rivers State University has issued a notice that returning students of the institution must pay their school fees or else they will not be able to take their examinations. The donations that have been made would have defrayed to a large extent the tuition fees of these students. Currently, Rivers State students in higher institutions are not enjoying the bursary that his predecessors actually paid.”

But the media aide of the governor, Kelvin Ebiri, described the APC’s comment as a preposterous and baseless allegation by the remnant of a dying political party.

“The needs of Rivers people are being met by the administration of Governor Wike, who was today conferred the ‘Distinguished Award in Infrastructure Delivery’ for his excellence in public service by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari. Rivers State in the last three years has maintained its overall fiscal performance position among the 36 states in Nigeria, according to BudgIT.

BudgIT, in its 2022 report said only Lagos and Rivers generated enough revenues internally to take care of their operating expenses.

Rivers State and four other states have so far prioritised capital expenditure over operation expenses, signaling the prioritisation of investments in infrastructure, job creation, and human capital development,” Ebiri added.

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