The Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike has urged the Federal Government to remit funds that it is owing the Rivers State.
The funds were expended on projects handled by the Rivers State Government on behalf of its federal counterpart.
In Port Harcourt, Government is viewing the demand as a serious issue.
Incidentally, Governor Wike was a member of the Federal Executive Council which turned deaf ears to pleas by the Amaechi administration for a refund of the said funds as allowed by convention.
Amaechi had committed billions of naira to the reconstruction of failed roads belonging to the Federal Government as part of efforts to stem accident cases involving Rivers people.
Somehow, what was obviously an act of good faith and evidence of the resolve of the Rivers State to pursue intergovernmental collaboration was rather spurned.
Specifically, the Goodluck Jonathan administration in which Wike served as the Minister of State of Education paid no heed to those requests.
Instead, in what could be seen as punishment for the Rivers State Government led by Amaechi, the Federal Government took away oil wells belonging to the people of Rivers State and gave them to their neighbors.
There is no evidence that the Wike administration has spent a kobo on federal projects.
Four years after his first tenure, Wike believes it is time to ask for the return of funds committed by the Rivers State to the development of federal projects.
Wike who spoke about it a couple of days ago said it was unfair for the Federal Government not to release the said funds.
Said a Rivers elder, “What goes around, comes around. Who would believe that Wike would be asking for the return of money commendably expended by the Amaechi administration on federal roads.
“Wike sat there and did nothing. That day, Wike did not remember that while Jonathan repaid other states for jobs well done, it was money belonging to Rivers people that his principal refused to refund.”
A businesswoman remarked, “You would think that Wike was the one who spent the money on the Federal projects. Parts of the East West Road which runs through Ikwerreland are in bad shape.
“The Rivers State Government has not done anything to help. Go to the Tank Junction area and see what is happening there for yourself.
“The road is almost cutoff. Ironically, that part of the road is in Obio/Akpor and our governor hasn’t shown he feels the pulse of road users. What does he want the refund for? ”
It is not clear how Wike wants to go about collecting the refund.
Those close to the Rivers governor say he doesn’t take no for an answer.
“Wike does not give up”, one admirer noted, “No matter what, no matter what the obstacle is, he would keep pushing the best way he knows.”
Sometime ago, the Rivers governor shut down the NDDC, a federal parastatal over tax related issues.
Will he head to the courts to compel the Federal Government to pay the billions that it owes Rivers State?
Or would he rather engage the administration constructively through dialogue?
On the issue of oil wells ceded to other states, Wike was in court recently to enforce the implementation of an order of court secured by the Amaechi administration which was never respected by the Jonathan Government.