The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has told Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that he (Tinubu) owed him nothing but that “You have to lobby me to collect”.
Tinubu said this today (Wednesday) in Port Harcourt the state capital, during the inauguration of the Rumuokuta Flyover, while responding to a request by Governor Wike, who asked for refunds on federal projects undertaken by states of the federation.
Justifying the request and why his administration has been able to deliver a number of major projects seamlessly, Wike had told Tinubu: “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.
“When you give a contractor 15%, inflation is rising almost every day; 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 JB.
“How much did they charge us? About N80 billion. We fall back on our Internally Generated Revenue, to say every month, take N4 billion, finish this road in 18 months. That is why we have never failed in completing our projects.
“Unfortunately, these projects are Federal Government’s roads. We don’t want our people to suffer. I believe the Federal Government should say ‘let us refund these monies’.
“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.”
I don’t owe you, but … —Tinubu
Responding, the President-elect told Wike: “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.”
However, attesting to growing intimacy between him and the Rivers outgoing governor, Tinubu said: “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 fulfil 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, create excitement and development across this state, we have something to look forward to in Nigeria.”