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 ‘I Owe You Nothing’: Tinubu Faults Wike’s Request For Project Refund

He said the governor and his people were the ones using the roads in question.

President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, faulted Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike over his request for the federal government’s refund of money spent on the construction of federal roads in the state, saying he owes the governor nothing.

Wike had while giving a speech at the inauguration of the Rumuokwuta/Rumuola Flyover (12th Flyover), performed by Tinubu, requested that immediately after handover, the president-elect should consider refunding Rivers State the money spent on all the federal roads in the state. He requested the Tinubu-led federal government to do the refund to his successor, Sim Fubara.

Wike stated, “The governor-elect is here. As I leave office, I will sign all that is required and he will simply pass the papers to you. That will be one of the first things you do when you are sworn in as president on May 29.”

Reacting, Tinubu told Wike that he owed him nothing, and that the governor and his people were using the roads in question.

However, while commending Wike for making Rivers people happy with his developmental strides, Tinubu stressed that they should look at how to move the country forward.

The president-elect, nevertheless, promised to have a private discussion with the governor over his request.

He told the governor, “The demand you made for refund, I owe you nothing, it’s your road. You are the one living on this road. I commend your effort, and you had to lobby me to collect.

“Nyesom, as you make people create excitement and development across this state, we have something to look forward to for Nigeria. You and I will discuss that not expected debt.”

Tinubu, who was in the state to inaugurate two projects executed by the state government, however, described Wike as a dependable ally, who was ever ready to pursue a just cause in the national interest.

Tinubu expressed joy that he commissioned the projects, in fulfilment of his earlier promise to Wike during the presidential campaign rally in the state. He recalled the gruesome campaign he went through to emerge president-elect in the February 25 election.

The president-elect stated, “The newly elected governor of Rivers State, I am very happy to meet you. The newly elected House of Representatives members and senators that will be collaborating with me in Abuja, if you talk of character, you can well say that Governor Wike is very dependable.

“I am a very happy man because I went through a gruesome campaign, fought hard, supported by many of you and I won. To my victory, I couldn’t have done it without some structural support describable in a flyover.

“In His Excellency, I see a man of principle, he took a principled stand that the presidency must return to South and he has the courage to stand by his conviction, not minding whose ox is gored. Nyesom is a real man of integrity, not about him, rather, the interest of the nation, and you promoted unity.

“There was so much gossip and speculation, but you stood your ground and found the construction of this flyover and my invitation to commission this project today is another way of building bridges, which cannot be overstated in Nigeria. So, it’s on the strength of your character I stand to fulfil my promise I made during the campaign.”

Nonetheless, the Rivers State governor sought amendment to the procurement law.

The request came as former senator and civil rights activist, Shehu Sani, condemned Wike as desperate for favour and accommodation by Tinubu.

Wike, who spoke earlier, noted the need for the federal government to amend its procurement law in order to end abandonment of projects it handled. He said the current procurement law of the federal government only allowed for about 15/30 per cent to be paid as mobilisation fee to a contractor, stressing that such a sum does not allow the contractor to make good progress on projects before being caught up by inflation effects and high cost of materials, which eventually requires variation of contract terms.

The Rivers State governor, who explained the process of awarding contracts in the state, stated that some of the constructed flyovers were on federal roads and the state should be refunded. 

Wike said, “Unfortunately, these projects ought to be federal government projects because they are federal roads. But if we had said because they are federal government roads, we won’t do it, who are those to suffer? Since we have said we don’t want our people to suffer, I also believe that the federal government should say, look, you have done well for us.

“These are projects we should be doing, can you bring your bill, let us refund you the money you have spent doing these roads. That is what it is supposed to be for a partnership with a good federal government. I can assure you as you enter the office and you approve to pay this money back, other states will have the courage to also do the same thing.”

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