ASABA/Nigeria: Delta Government has said that it is not keen in managing the 4.2 million pounds returned by the United Kingdom but for proper deployment of the money on projects within the state.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, stated this while speaking on Arise Television NewsDay monitored in Asaba at the weekend.
He said that it was imperative to clear the air on perceived mischief and distrust in some quarters about the state government’s intent on how the money would be spent.
Ifeajika explained that in the correspondence to the Office of Attorney-General of the Federation, the state government had averred that if the Federal Government would not send the money to the state directly, it should use it to fund key projects in the state.
He listed the projects to include ongoing dualisation of Ughelli-Asaba road and ongoing storm drainage projects in Warri and Effurun.
He stated that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had kept faith with the mandate given to him by Deltans to manage their affairs and resources without blemish in the past six years, adding that the issue of the 4.2 million pounds would not breed distrust that had never been there.
According to him, when the issue of the money first hit the newsstand that it was being returned to Nigeria from UK, we were happy: even the United Kingdom that was returning it knew it was Delta State’s money.
“Initially the Attorney General of the Federation said the money was Federal Government’s money and that they were going to deploy it the way they wanted.
“But, we made a subtle presentation to the Government that it is Delta State Government’s money and that they should do the right thing to give it to us. It is like a father recovering what belongs to a child, you will naturally give it to that child haven recovered it.
“That was our contention and we went further to do a formal presentation by asking the Federal Government, if you must not give it to us as cash, we gave options of roads that they should come and do in Delta because it was funny that Federal Government was going to use that money to do the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and some other projects that have no bearing with Delta, and we saw it as not too good.
“When we heard on Monday that the money had been paid to Delta, we were happy. But when we checked our books and accounts for about 24 hours and the money wasn’t there, we had to come and tell Nigerians that the money was not in our kitty, that it didn’t hit our coffers.
“The following day the Accountant-General said that he never said that the money had been remitted to Delta. That is funny.
“It is for Nigerians to know what we are going through. We are still hoping that they will send the money to us, and as soon as that is done, we will acknowledge it and tell the world that we have received it. For now, the money hasn’t come,” he said.
On the skepticism about state government’s ability to deploy the funds judiciously, Ifeajika said that Okowa’s pedigree in financial prudence had been acknowledged over the last six years.
“If for six years now that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has been on the saddle and he has never been accused of mismanaging the funds of the State, he’s been very prudent and accountable in all he has been doing, I don’t see why this money will be a different thing.
“It will be like managing the resources of the State the way he’s been doing it from 2015 to date; the money being returned won’t be different.
“I expect that Deltans will still have the confidence that they’ve always had in him and his administration to deliver with whatever funds that are available.
“So, the issue of mismanagement or round-tripping the money is not there at all, because the Governor himself has been managing the resources of the State all along and there has been no problem at all.
“We still have confidence in his managerial ability, transparency and accountability. And, Deltans are sure that if the money had come to the state straight, we hope it does come, it will be properly managed; there is no doubt about that,” Ifeajika stated.