Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, says the Federal Government did not disburse N34 billion to Rivers State as Paris Club Refund, as claimed by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The Finance Ministry had on Friday published a list showing how much each of the 36 states has so far received from the Federal Government as their share of the Paris Club refund. The list indicated that Rivers State got N34,925,785,322.06, the highest of all the states.
Governor Wike, however, denied the report, describing the claim as lies. He challenged the Federal Government to publish the account where it paid the N34billion in respect of the Paris Fund Refund to Rivers State.
“As I speak to you, no N34billion has been paid to Rivers State. I challenge the Federal Government to show Nigerians the account they paid the N34billion,” he said Speak during the First Session of the 8th Synod Thanksgiving Service of the Anglican Province of Niger Delta.
He said that the Federal Government initially released N14 billion as Paris Fund Refund to Rivers State. But after protests that the state had been short-changed, the Federal Government released another N3billion to the state, totalling N17billion.
The governor explained that the State Government judiciously used the N17billion and monitored the use of the Local Government funds for the payment of outstanding salaries.
He said, “I read on the pages of Newspapers that Rivers State received the highest amount of the refund of the Paris Club to the tune of N34billion. I want to say categorically, that is not correct.
“The President approved that every state and Local Government should receive 50 percent. They came to say that they cannot pay 50 percent, but they can pay 25percent. Now, the 25 percent of the 50 percent, they paid Rivers State Government and Local Government Areas, N14billion. They short paid Rivers State, they short paid Akwa Ibom and they short paid Delta State, which are PDP states.
“We are the only three states that were short-changed. They paid all other states completely. So we started fighting. We raised alarm and they said we still have N3billion.
“For the remaining of the 25 percent, they called a meeting. They now said, ‘we cannot pay you that 25 percent fully. We will pay you part of the 25percent now, pay part in September, pay part in December’. If they pay part now, part in September and pay part in December; then it will mean that they have paid Rivers State Government, N34billion.
“If they say that, we are entitled to N34billion, Okay. Being entitled and paying the money are two different things”.
He assured the people of the state that the Paris Fund Refund will be used to pay for the Garrison-Trans Amadi-Elelenwo Road, the Woji-Akpajo Bridge and road, the Elelenwo-Akpajo Road and other key projects across the state.