‘Okowa not among governors pilfering LG funds’

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Delta Government on Friday dissociated Governor Ifeanyi Okowa from the allegation by President Muhammadu Buhari that some governors were involved in diverting local government funds.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, at a news conference in Asaba said Okowa’s administration had remained transparent and accountable to the people and would never be counted among governors (if any) that steal local government funds.

He stated that in case the President had information that such pilfering happened in some states, “ the reverse is the case in Delta, where rather than touch the funds of local governments, the governor gives them nothing less than N300 million monthly to augment their salaries and pension bills, and remain afloat’’.

According to Ifeajika, I want to say that Mr President, as one who has all the information about issues in the country, knows the governors who fall into that category of the so-called ‘thieves’ he was referring to.

“We all know that our own Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, does not belong there. He was one of the first governors, if not the first, to embrace local government autonomy when it was agreed on just like he did with the judiciary and the legislature.

“He went as far as getting legislation to grant autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary. He allowed them to run autonomously. And, for a man, who allowed these organs of government to have autonomy, he cannot have anything to do with funds belonging to the local governments.

“I repeat that the government of Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, every month, augments the finances of local governments in the state with more than N300 million to make sure they are able to pay their salaries and stay afloat.

“He does that religiously monthly; so, for a man who does that, how can he be among those who steal local government money?

“Our governor is not part of it. You are also aware that the government of Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa recently released N5 billion for pension arrears; N2.5 billion of that was a grant to the local government for payment of pensions.

“It is a grant to the local government; they are not going to pay. The governor did that because the local governments have to fund their activities, pay their teachers and healthcare workers,” he stated.

Okowa’s spokesman also took a swipe at Deputy President of the Senate and All Progressives Congress Governorship Candidate in the state, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, for lying about consulting Governor Okowa on the status of PTI-Eku-Agbor road.

Ifeajika said that Omo-Agege knew that the road was under contract and he knew the contractor who abandoned the road.

“I have told you before that lying is in the DNA of Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege just like it is in the APC. But beyond lies, his utterances obviously smack of malice and mischief.

“In a meeting with CAN members in Sapele some days ago, he told them that he had asked Okowa to furnish him with information about the status of the road from PTI through Agbor.

“I wonder how Omo-Agege, Deputy President of the Senate, would be asking the governor to furnish him with such information when he can easily find out about the road as a federal officer.

“Again, he lied when he said that he was doing that because the contract for that road had been awarded previously. But, if that is the case, all he needed to do was to use his good office to return the contractor to site.

“He said he wanted that information to enable him to put the road contract in NDDC’s budget. So, what happened to the first contract? If a contract was awarded, as a Deltan, all he needed to do was to find out what happened to the first contract.

“Well, Deltans are Deltans and they know the truth. He said N80 billion has been approved for that same project again through NDDC. We have heard him but, until we see the contractor deployed to work, we cannot believe him.

“He said again that because of insecurity, oil companies have left the state, Warri particularly. We all know where insecurity comes from. It is one big thing that the APC administration has given to Nigerians.

“It is their flagship gift to Nigerians, and his comment on insecurity is a great indictment on the Federal Government where he is a big stakeholder,” he stated.