A former Commissioner of Transport in River State, Mr Tolofari George, has said Governor Nyesom Wike lied that his predecessor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, abandoned the state’s aircraft in Germany.
The PUNCH had on Wednesday reported that Wike said the state-owned aircraft, Legacy 600, was flown and abandoned in Germany during the administration of Rotimi Amaechi.
But George, in a statement on Wednesday, said the allegation was mischievous and intended to attack Amaechi.
He said, “Once again, in his characteristic mischievous style, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has sought to malign and attack his predecessor and erstwhile benefactor, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi by making false allegations.
“This time the governor claims that his predecessor secretly abandoned an aircraft belonging to the Rivers State Government in Germany.
“The lie in the Rivers State Government rant is so obvious. It is simply not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the state ministry of transport (which I supervised as Commissioner) to the incoming administration in 2015 can be said to be secretly abandoned? How?
“When we got the new aircraft that the current government is using now, the older Legacy aircraft was sent to Germany for repairs and refurbishment and then to be sold to generate revenue for critical infrastructural projects in the state. To the Previous administration, there was no economic sense to keep and maintain two State planes. The cost was just too prohibitive, so the plan was to sell off the older Legacy plane.”
George added that the plane was still in Germany at the time Amaechi handed over to Wike.
“In 2015 when the new administration took over, they claimed the same aircraft had been stolen. Today, they are now saying again that the aircraft was secretly abandoned.
We can now all see that the issue is purely political and vindictive, hurling false allegations on the previous administration. That the Legacy aircraft was in RUAG, Germany was written in my handover note that is in the custody of the Rivers State Government,” he added.
Also, a former Commissioner for Agriculture in Rivers State under the Amaechi-led administration, Emmanuel Chinda, has faulted Wike’s claims.
Chinda, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, and loyalist of Amaechi, who is now the Minister of Transportation, disclosed that the said documentation was done before the aircraft was moved out of the state.
Chinda, who spoke in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said contrary to Wike’s claims that the plane was abandoned, the aircraft was taken to Germany for maintenance purposes.
He claimed that the present administration is aware of the development, adding that the governor is only interested in playing politics with every situation.
He said, “He (Wike) has been talking about Rivers State’s plane for the past four years now. As usual, what he did was to take his friends to use tax payers’ money as they have always done, to go for their meeting.
“If it is not so, tell me which aviation expert was in that delegation he took to Germany. What you see there are group of politicians for his ‘Wike for President’ or for governors’ comity of friends.
“When we were in government, that aircraft got bad and it was taken overseas for repairs. I don’t know how long it would have taken to come back, but there was a proper documentation done before it was taken out of the country.
“It wouldn’t have been successfully taken out of the country without documentation. A proper documentation was done and that was how Wike was able to trace it to that place.
“The aircraft was bad and was sent for maintenance. Aircraft is not taxi that you handle anyhow. It went for maintenance and there was proper documentation.”- Punch