Nigeria Tam Tam: States may not be bankrupt.....

‘States Are Not Bankrupt, But We Have No Money!’

Saturday, 29 October 2011 00:00 

 News - National 

STATES may not be bankrupt, but they are financially in dire straits, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, affirmed yesterday.

And based on this, the Rivers State governor reiterated the clamour for a review of the revenue sharing formula to enable them discharge their responsibility to the citizenry.
His words: “We are not bankrupt. Do we have money? No! It is challenging, because you can’t be doing all you are doing and you don’t have the funds you need to do them.

“We are not bankrupt, but we don’t have money. We need the revenue formula to change to favour the states, so that we can do more. Even the President comes from Bayelsa and he needs Bayelsa to develop, so that when he retires as President he can come to a conducive environment,” he said.

On the contentious Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), which he has described as unconstitutional, Amaechi said the states have not dragged the Federal Government to court to challenge its constitutionality.

Reacting to a report credited to the Edo State government that it does not support other states’ stance on the Fund, Amaechi explained that the governors have agreed with the federal government on a lot of issues and one is that they would not going to court with them on the issue of SWF.

“If the Edo State governor is not in support of what we are doing, in terms of the Fund, if he does not go to court, another governor can go to court to challenge its constitutionality. You don’t need 36 governors to go to court.

“The issue is that it is not true that the governors are in court on the issue of the Fund; we have not taken the federal government to court,” the governor insisted.

He explained that Rivers has repaid N6billion out of the N40 billion it recently accessed from a commercial bank, adding that the government would still push ahead with its plan to raise the sum of N250 billion through bond, as borrowing from banks is no longer attractive due to Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) increment of interest rate.

On the issue of waterfronts slums in Port Harcourt, Amaechi described those residing in the area as illegal occupants.

He disclosed that government would soon commence the demolition of the Abonnema Wharf as soon as the state raises money to acquire all the properties there.

Reacting to Amnesty International’s criticism of the states urban renewal policy, Amaechi described as absurd situation whereby the group’s official stay in cosy environment in London and see nothing inhumane about Africans livings in crime-ridden slums.

He said: “I will demolish the waterfronts; all of them living there are illegal occupants. They what is called temporary occupation licence, which means that when a government wakes up and says it wants its my land back, they are supposed to vacant after seven days. So, first and foremost, the law is not on their side; it is on my side.”

He continued: “But as a human being and as a governor, we are supposed to have a lot of human face to a lot of these problems. We have said we will pay for all the properties we meet in the course of this demolition at a commercial rate.”

The governor stressed that he does not derive pleasure in anyone suffering, but insisted that since 80 per cent of the criminals in Port Harcourt live in the waterfronts, the government is bound to rid the city of these security nuisance.

Author of this article: From Kelvin Ebiri and Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt