The President-elect, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, yesterday disagreed over the request for a refund to the state government monies spent on reconstruction of federal roads in the state.
Tinubu had while responding to a request by Wike during the inauguration of the Rumuola-Rumuokwuta Flyover in Port Harcourt, declared that the federal government under his administration owes no obligation to make refunds on federal projects undertaken by states of the federation.
The President-elect, who is on a two-day visit to Rivers State,
however told the governor that he could reconsider his stance on the request on condition that the governor lobbies him.
He said: “On the demand you made for refund, I owe you nothing. It’s your road. You’re the one living on these roads. I commend your efforts. You have to lobby me to collect.
“My visit to Rivers is a promise kept, promise fulfilled. If you talk of character, Governor Nyesom Wike you are very dependable.
“In Wike, I see a man of principle. He took a stand that the Presidency must return to South. And he had the courage to stand by his conviction, not minding whose ox is gored.
“He is indeed a man of great integrity. You promoted unity, promoted fairness, you championed justice.
“To commission this project today is another way of building bridges across Nigeria which cannot be overstated. It is on the strength of your character that I stand to fulfill the promise I made during the campaigns. I’m happy we have been able to establish a relationship.
“I’m a very happy man. As you make people happy, creat excitement and development across this state, we have something to look forward to in Nigeria.”
Earlier in his speech, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, had justified the request and why his administration has been able to deliver a number of major projects seamlessly.
Wike said:”Part of why we are having uncompleted projects have to do with our procurement laws. If you follow the procurement law, it will take very long to complete projects.
“How much does the procurement law, I mean for federal, says, 15 to 30% (mobilisation). When you give a contractor 15%, inflation is rising almost everyday, before you give another money they will call for variation because of increasing cost of materials.
“In our own case, I call Mr Speaker, to say we can’t continue with this. We had to amend our own procurement law to give us the latitude to pay 70% to a company we know has the capacity to deliver within time.
“That is why today, no project being handled by Julius Berger (JB) is uncompleted. Recently we are dualising Ahoada to Omoku to Egbema, with to our boundary with Imo state. Julius Berger is doing that work. We also dualising from Emohua, East West, to Degema Junction, also by Julius Berger.
“How much did they charge us, about N80Bn. We fall back on our Internally Generated Revenue, to say every month, take N4Bn, finish this road in 18months. That is why we have never failed in completing our projects.
“Unfortunately, these projects are FG roads. We don’t want our people to suffer. I believe FG government should say let us refund these money.
“I assure you, as you enter office and approve to pay these monies back, other states will also do same thing. So that (refund) is the first request we are making to you.”