Buhari's word: “Speaking from personal experience, a Chief Executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained, the treatment of local governments, what they did, this is my personal experience. If the monies from the federal government to state governments is 100 million (naira), let’s put it at N100 million. N50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received 100 million.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wanted to and then the chairman of the local government will see how much he must pay in salaries, to hell goes development. Monies for the salaries will be given and the balance will put in his pocket. This is what is happening.”
Wike, Ortom challenge Buhari: Reacting to the allegation, Wike and Ortom while speaking at the inauguration of the Mgbuosimini internal road project in Port Harcourt, Rivers capital, on Friday, December 2, 2022, threw down a challenge to the President to name those culpable of stealing local government funds.
The Rivers governor denied ever tampering with local government allocations since he assumed office as the state governor in 2015, adding that Buhari's comment is tantamount to defamation.
Wike's word: “You said the governors are taking local government funds. I want to say in the name of almighty God, I have never touched local government funds one day. I have never and I have no reason to do that. So, Mr. President tell us who are those people? You know them, tell us. It is not good to make class defamation of saying governors. Please, I am not one of those governors.
“So, Mr President, please, spare me, tell Nigerians that the Integrity Governors are not part of them . We have integrity. And do us a favour to announce all those states that they are taking local government money because you have the record.”
Wike doubled down: The governor emphasised that, when he served as a council chairman under the administration of former governor, Peter Odili, the governor never touched their funds and that he has continued to follow in that example.
He added that his administration has never asked any council for partnership to fund any project in the state, despite the fact that most of those projects should have been done by local government councils.
Wike's word: “When I was chairman of local government under Dr. Peter Odili, he never touched one Naira of local government funds. When I was chairman, nobody touched my funds and I see no reason why I will begin to touch other people’s funds.”
While performing the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and Internal Roads, Governor Ortom queued behind Wike to ask President Buhari to expose the governors guilty of mismanaging council funds.
He also noted that constructing such road project in the community is a testament to how Wike has improved the wellbeing of the people.