THE INTEGRITY GROUP
21 Igboukwu Street D/Line Port Harcourt
OPEN LETTER OF DEMANDS TO THE RIVERS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Rivers State House of Assembly,
GOVERNOR WIKE WHERE IS OUR RIVERS STATE BUDGET??
RIVERS STATE OF SECRET BUDGETS, 2015, 2016, 2017 AND NOW AGAIN 2018! HOW FAR CAN FRAUD GO?? WHY HAS THE STATE ASSEMBLY AIDED AND ABETTED?
From May 29 2015 till date, the budgets of Rivers State have remained a secret document unavailable to the public. When the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s administration came on board on May 29, 2015, the Rivers State Government budget had enjoyed the opportunity of being available to the public particularly on the state government’s official website. This was a practice that was consistent with the former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s government during his eight years of governing the state from 2007 to 2015.
It is thus without denial that immediately the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s administration came on board on May 29, 2015, the governor personally ordered the complete deletion of the state budget of that year from the state government official website arbitrarily. From same 2015 till today and possibly beyond, the Rivers State Government budgets/appropriation laws have remained unaccessible and a secret document available exclusively to only His Excellency the executive Governor without denial.
It is important to state that the Rivers State House of Assembly as of right in law, has passed every budget proposed by Governor Nyesom Wike without any difficulty. It is also expedient to state further that the state budget is a law called the Appropriation Law that is required for the implementation of all annual procurement plans (please refer to section 14(1)(b) of Rivers state Prucurement Law. Under the budgets therefore, both recurrent and capital expenditure are proposed for implementing in a given budgetary year. Moreso, by the operations of the budgets, projects and programs of government are expected to be executed in full compliance with the Public Procurement Law in force and other standard procedures/practices and any other relevant laws.
Whereas the Rivers State House of Assembly is statutorily empowered to not only make laws or pass the budgets/Appropriation Law, it is also legally empowered to carry out oversight function on the projects and programs of government, chief of which is to supervise and monitor the budget of each year to ensure full compliance accordingly. Thus the budget is a law and not a committee report or house resolution to be handled with mere discretion.
It is also trite that every law validly passed by a State or National Assembly is a public document and so it can be sold at government designated outlets like the State government printing press, ministry of budget and economic planning or ministry of information, etc. This will avail members of the public the opportunity to easily have access to the budget/appropriation Law like any other Law and assess the government to know how transparent, accountable, prudent, and if they are actually having value for the amount of money that were budgeted for each year. Sadly, this is not the case in the Governor Wike’s regime in our present Rivers State and this speaks volumes.
THE QUESTIONS NOW ARISE:
1. Why is Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State continually hiding the budgets of Rivers State from 2015 to 2017 including a plan to do same to the yet to be proposed 2018 budget while the state House of Assembly watches with great delight and joy of benefit as in the case of proceeds of crime?
2. Can Governor Nyesom Wike in good conscience and in truth extricate himself and his administration of crime, flagrant abuse of fiscal powers and brazing corruption while he runs a government and expends the monies belonging to Rivers state without any accessible budgets that is supposed to give the governed the opportunity/basis to truly assess his actual performance?
3. Can His Excellency the Governor, Nyesom Wike still reserve the right to speak against corruption in any form while he keeps the budgets and Procurement Plan of Rivers State secret and continues to do so, awarding “Projects” and “contracts” at impulse without complying with the public procurement law of the state and without making available the budgets of Rivers State to the public for transparency and scrutiny?
4. Are these types of practices under our Governor “Mr Project” the new way of what due process in governance is about? What is our governor afraid of and can he voluntarily submit himself and his administration to public scrutiny as per the state budgets and procurement processes under his administration? At least we know him to be a self-styled-advocate against corruption having challenged the federal government in various fora as well as giving Rivers people and the unsuspecting public same impression.
5. How can the Rivers State Government justify all the suspectedly procured top-ratings in governance by various self-styled transparency groups in terms of fiscal matters when it runs a government with no accessible budgets or procurement plan?
6. What has happened to the Rivers state share of the Paris club refunds from the federal government running into tens of billions of Naira including several loans in like sum approved lavishly at all times for the governor by the Rivers State House of Assembly? What has become of the “projects” tied to these loans and is there evidence of the utilization of these loans in line with the said “Projects” as per the bi-ànnual procurement audit as required by section 3(o) of the state procurement law?
7. Can Governor Nyesom Wike show the people’s of Nigeria and Rivers State in particular where all his “projects” and various lavish activities of government are captured in the state budgets which budgets are available to him alone?
8. Can the Rivers State House of Assembly and the State Judiciary publish evidence of their budgets from 2015 to 2017 as well as proof of statutory allocations to the public as a way to show transparency giving that our organization holds that no such evidence exists.
9. Can Governor Nyesom Wike and the Bureau for Public Procurement including the Rivers State House of Assembly show and publish evidence of procurement records or proceedings on these said “projects” under the watch of “Mr Project” in full compliance with the Public Procurement Law of the state?
10. Is there a better definition of Corruption and a corrupt government if Governor Nyesom Wike fails to give verifiable and credible answers to these questions?
Can Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State prove that he is not running a corrupt and criminal as well as a fraudulent government if he fails to credibly answer to the aforementioned questions?
11. Now that the 2018 budget is in view, will the state House of Assembly partner to hide it again from the public, wash its hands in brazing corruption again by aiding and abetting this heinous crime against the public funds of Rivers state as it is now known for?
a. That the Rivers State House of Assembly should NOT pass into Law any 2018 proposed budget by Governor Nyesom Wike should he present same before the House as long as the Governor fails to explain why he is HIDING the state budgets and continues to make it a secret, thus incapacitating the citizenry from monitoring government in terms of how Rivers monies are handled by this administration.
b. If the Rivers State House of Assembly fails to take these quick actions as raised herein, it will be viewed that the current House of Assembly is criminally complicit with Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who runs the state with inaccessible and secret budgets since 2015 and continues to do so damning its attendant consequences
The Integrity Group