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Gov. Wike’s thoughts on $1bn ECA withdrawal are jumbled: 3 takeaways from his meeting with Buhari

Takeaways

Gov. Wike’s thoughts on $1bn ECA withdrawal are jumbled: 3 takeaways from his meeting with Buhari

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, was a guest of President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House  in Abuja on Friday.

According to the governor in a chat with reporters at the Villa, the meeting centred on the security situation in Rivers state. 

Here are three takeaways:

The illegal $1 billion 

Wike spoke with the reporters on one of the controversial issues of the moment – the decision of the National Economic Council (NEC) of which he is a member, to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) jointly owned by the federal, state and local governments.

The governor’s position on the matter was a jumbled mixture.

1. On one hand, he said the proposed withdrawal is illegal. “For me it is illegal,” he said flatly. 

He did not explain why he believed the withdrawal is illegal. Local government chairmen in Ekiti have made a more articulate argument against the illegality, saying the FG and state governors cannot withdraw money which belongs to the three tiers of government without getting the approval of the local councils.

2. On the other hand, Wike says he did not oppose the proposal because “we are talking about fighting insurgency and no right thinking individual will say that he will not support the government to fight insurgency.” 

Well, Gov. Fayose of Ekiti opposes it, and he would argue that he qualifies as a “right thinking” individual. So it finally boils down to the issue of principles: If you believe something is illegal – as the Gov. Wike claims – then stand against it.

3. Even though Wike believes that withdrawing this way from the ECA is illegal, he still manages to say that the supposed illegality should be extended to solving real problems in his Nigeria Delta region.

“I believe that we have been talking about the environmental issues in the Niger Delta, particularly in Ogoni land, I believe that we can also take the same money from the excess crude account to fund the problem in Ogoni land and other Niger Delta areas,” he said.

Summary: Wike wants to have it three ways at once. (1) It’s illegal; (2) I support the illegality; (3) Let’s extend the illegality.

On his relationship with Pres. Buhari

The Rivers governor said he has a cordial relationship with the president and visits the Villa whenever Buhari asks him to come.

“I’m happy with the discussion and I believe that something has to be done about (security) it. Nothing political; just security issue that affects the state and things that may lead to the breakdown of law and order. We talked on security challenges and he received me very well. We don’t have any bad relationship. I come here when he asks me to come.”

On his alleged manipulation of the recent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) elective congress in Abuja in order to impose Uche Secondus as the party chairman

“It is impossible for one person to own a party. The only thing is that people are vibrating and the ruling party is jittery about it. Take for example, my state; we are sure that PDP will win elections any day, anytime. 

“There is no amount of blackmail; there is no amount of intimidation that will stop us from winning the state. So I believe that other people working hard in their states should be able to deliver them to PDP in future,” Wike said.

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