Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said the state government will abide by the Supreme Court judgment that state governors cannot dissolve elected councils.
He, however, noted that the report presented by a committee set up by the state to investigate the spending of local government councils in the state exposed a scandalous rot in the local government system.
Wike stated this yesterday when he received the report of the committee set up to investigate and audit the financial transactions of the 23 local government councils of the state from May 2018 to May 2019 at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
He said while abiding by the judgment of the Supreme Court on the dissolution of councils, his administration would follow the due process of the law in implementing the report of the committee.
According to him, “The Supreme Court has said you cannot dissolve elected councils. We will obey the Supreme Court judgment on that matter.
“But we shall take action on the areas where we are empowered by law to act. All the treasurers, head of personnel management and other civil servants involved in illegal financial transactions will be sanctioned.
“I have read the preliminary report. It is bad. The report is scandalous. Tomorrow, they will say I don’t remember those who fought for me. Did you fight for me, so that you can destroy the system?”
Wike said local government council chairmen are under obligation to work for their people and deliver dividends of democracy to improve their lives.
He said: “I am quite satisfied with what the committee has done. It is not political, and things must be done the right way. We cannot continue to play. The problem with this country is that we often take things for granted
“As a local government council chairman, I created record as a performer. I did projects and worked for our people. I won all the awards.
“If I was going to them to bring money, I wouldn’t get up to set up the committee. They would have indicted me. Some councils take up to N2 billion annually and there is a council that gets up to N5 billion annually, yet no project to show for it.”
The governor therefore urged council chairmen and top government officials to always work to develop their communities and leave worthy legacies behind.
He commended the committee for working in line with their terms of reference, and that they should focus on the task without attracting any form of scandal.
Wike stated that he was not out to witch-hunt anyone, but remains committed to the development of the state as well as entrench due process.
Earlier, Chairman of the committee set up to investigate and audit the financial transactions of the 23 local government councils from May 2018 to May 2019, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, who is also the state deputy governor, thanked the governor for his commitment to the development of the state.
She said to ensure professionalism, the committee engaged three auditing firms to achieve the right results.
The deputy governor said all the council chairmen and relevant officials participated in the exercise, and according to her, the committee worked in line with best practices for the good of the state.