Rivers Aircraft: Governor Wike’s Failed Smear Attempt; Another Tomfoolery or Retirement of Laundered Fund?
In a short video making around recently, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was caught, as usual, in vituperative, incoherent and not clear-headed manner, attempting to smear his predecessor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, by alleging that his predecessor abandoned Rivers State Aircraft in Germany for 10years. That was very laughable. Ordinarily, the vituperation would not have elicited any response whatsoever, because any discerning mind who understands the seasons, would come to just one irresistible conclusion; an attempt to smear a superior political opponent, however it has become necessary because my follow Nigerians have a way internalising falsehoods.
Isn’t it amusing that Wike would accuse his predecessor of abandoning a State Owned Aircraft for 10years when his predecessor’s cumulative stay in office was 8years? To make the matter worse, Wike, the traducer alleged that the abandonment was since 2012. Curiously, Amaechi left office in 2015 and Wike has been in office since 2015 till today, 2022. Assuming there was any case of abandonment and for 10years, which is not the case, then Wike himself abandoned the aircraft the more, 7years out of the 10years. But, as usual, Governor Wike did not and could not have made those statements from a sober standpoint. He was not sober at all.
Governor Wike in acting out his poorly scripted mono drama claimed that the state had no records of the whereabout of the aircraft. He gave the impression that he just discovered the aircraft on that trip to Germany. That was obviously a dishonourable thing to say, and please pardon me if I expected honour from a wrong quarter. Recall that in 2013, Governor Wike in the wake of his political onslaughts against his former boss and benefactor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi had alleged that Legacy 600 (the same aircraft) had been sold to which the Amaechi Administration issued a Press Statement and clarified the situation, stating that the aircraft had not been sold but was undergoing maintenance. However, that administration insisted that it would not be prudent for the state to operate and maintain two aircrafts and recommended the disposal of one.
Those who were in Nigeria between 2012 to 2015 would recall how Wike and his colleagues in the Federal Executive Council, with or without the consent of the former President, made it difficult for any aircraft belonging to Rivers State to operate in Nigeria. I am sure that Governor Wike expected Rt. Hon. Amaechi to have either smuggled the aircraft back into Nigeria in view of the onslaught against Amaechi and the operation of Rivers State owned aircrafts by that administration or that Amaechi should have acted as governor beyond May 29, 2015 just so he could bring back the aircraft into Nigeria. Even the operating aircraft used by Amaechi then was grounded several times (over a year) including banning the delivery of two (2) Bell Helicopters purchased for the Security of Rivers State. Those Helicopters were only permitted entry into the country in 2017 by the Buhari administration, which Governor Wike abandoned them with the Nigerian Airforce.
Wike gave the impression that he did not know the whereabout of the aircraft and that he just discovered it. Unfortunately, the cuttings of his drama video totally betrayed him. The interior of the plane did not show signs of abandonment, but a well refurbished and ready to use aircraft, which clearly suggests that the governor had commissioned the refurbishment of the aircraft long before that trip. Secondly, the Governor thoughtlessly gave out another hint that made nonsense of his mono acting when he said he had paid over €3m for the refurbishment of the aircraft. The question is, how do you negotiate and pay for the refurbishment of an aircraft before you discover its whereabout? Whom did you pay or negotiate payment with before discovery?
The Governor obviously knew the whereabout of the aircraft. Thirdly, the press statement issued by the Governor through his Media Aide, announced that the delivery of the aircraft would be March of 2022. From the date of alleged discovery of aircraft to the delivery date would be 2months. To refurbish and deliver an aircraft allegedly abandoned for 10years in 2months would be insanely amassing. It is either the company is engaged in quackery and does not know the intricacies of aircrafts or that it is doing nothing, but intentionally covering up for money laundered to Germany.
It might seem that the latter is the case as the Wike administration has within the short period put out conflicting figures of the cost of refurbishment. The Governor himself said he has paid over €3m for the refurbishment. His Media Aide, in his press statement that was reported in the GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER of 26 January 2022, articles by Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt (online: https://guardian.ng/news/rivers-aircraft-abandoned-by-amaechi-administration-discovered-in-germany-says-wike/) stated that the refurbishment would cost Rivers State Government 300 million Euros. What a way to launder funds to Germany.
Governor Nyesom Wike by this drama is trying to be clever by half. He merely intends to preempt and hoodwink Rivers People and Nigerians. It is electioneering year. Wike is personally involved and therefore needs additional aircraft to enhance his mobility and logistics. This cost is heavy and he intends to pass it onto Rivers State Taxpayers. In order to preempt the backlash that would come from Rivers People and Nigerians, Rivers State operating two aircrafts under the tight economy, he sets up a drama of “Recovery of Abandoned Aircraft”. In his thinking, he believes that the persuasion and notion that he recovered an allegedly abandoned aircraft would outweigh and dampen query over the huge cost of operating both two aircraft, in the minds of Rivers people. He missed the mark. He failed. Rivers people and Nigerians know much better.
Rivers People have never been this gagged and tamed, not even during the military dictatorships. Wike must not be allowed to continue to hoodwink the state endlessly. This idea of putting on the State the cost and burden of private political ambitions must stop. Governor Wike wants to commence the operation of two aircrafts just for the logistics of his personal political activities and campaign, meanwhile pensioners have not be paid for 6years, the state has drifted into first position in the ranking of unemployment, the number of out of school children is escalating, human capital and capacity building is at zero, industries are folding up and leaving the state in their droves. Our youths have been forced into criminality and illegal economic activities just to eke a living because of Wike’s failures, yet the Governor is immersed into serious quid pro quo corruption with a major construction company of German origin in Rivers State, where they are busy building mansions for him across the country in exchange for state contracts. Isn’t it time for Julius Berger Ltd and indeed the Government of Germany to come out clean on the activities of Julius Berger Ltd in the corruption of public officials (quid pro quo) in Nigeria?
I will conclude in the words of Professor Wole Soyinka: “the man dies in all who keeps silent in the face of tyranny”. Let not the man in you die. Rivers State belongs to all of us. We must stop Wike from the mismanagement of our commonwealth.
Achinike G. William-Wobodo,
Public Policy Advocate/Analyst
Wrote from Port Harcourt.