Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to hold governors accountable for stealing local government funds.
The governors who are part of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) five Integrity Governors threw the challenge to the President on Friday during the inauguration of the Mgbuosimini Internal Roads in Rivers State.
President Buhari on Thursday stated at the State House during a presidential parley for members of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) that state governors steal allocations meant for local governments.
Governor Wike, in response to the allegation, stated that he has never taken funds intended for local government since taking office in 2015. He challenged the president to name governors who are doing so, claiming that his statement amounted to class defamation.
“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 went on to say that as local government Chairman under Governor Peter Odili, his funds were never touched by the governor, and thus he has no reason to tamper with any money intended for local governments as governor.
Governor Ortom, who echoed his colleague’s remark, also denied touching funds intended for local governments, claiming that they are paid directly from the federation account.
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.”