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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Open letter to President on fall-outs from increase in Rivers IGR

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By Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo

My dear President,

Let me appreciate Your Excellency for the calm, focused and dogged disposition with which you and your government perform the business of State. The challenges are enormous, the distractions are countless, yet you soldier on. Your determination to steer the ship of State to its desired destination, increases by the day. It is there for all to see.

Lest I forget, let me wish you safe and fruitful trips to the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. May your journeys bring to the country the desired results. May your efforts be blessed by the Almighty.

My President, I am writing you this letter because I see in you the burning desire to bring prosperity to Nigerians. I see on TV how you beg state governors to join you in the task at hand. You plead with the sub-national governments to do their bit. You acknowledge that without them, efforts at the center will be more tedious, if not impossible.

Your Excellency, in response to your call for cooperation in the economic transformation of the country, my state governor, Siminalayi Fubara made the most extraordinary revelation.

He announced to the entire country that his 11-months-old administration has increased the internally generated revenue, IGR from 11billion to between 26 billion and 27 billion monthly. He has achieved more than 100% increase in IGR in less than a year. He has brought in additional 15 billion in monthly IGR.

This revelation by my governor has sent many tongues wagging. What a quantum leap, they say! What are the new investments that came into the state in the last one year? Did the state increase income, sales, and property taxes? How can IGR double in a depressed economy? There is something more than meets the eye.

Mr. President, the announcement of the governor rather than bring happiness is met with strong indignation. People have aired very strong views. They say that the over 100% upward shift in IGR is not as a result of new collections in revenue. It is the recovery of unreported amount either to.

Oh! I am sorry Your Excellency. I have jumped ahead of myself. I should have started this letter by first thanking you profusely for your timely and auspicious intervention in the Rivers State political crisis. Please forgive me.

Although many people say that the 8-point agreement was skewed against the governor, your intervention undoubtedly calmed a situation, that was at the time, spinning out of control. You stabilized the situation. Thank you my President.

The governor has since implemented all his part of the agreement, less the resubmission of the 2024 state budget. Yet he does not have the peace required for his job. He has reappointed commissioners that resigned from his cabinet and called his bluff.

I thank you again for that intervention. Let me return to the main reason for this letter.

Your Excellency, fingers are pointing at your Minister of FCT and the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, CON.

People are expressing the views that the ‘new’ monthly 27 billion naira IGR declared by Governor Fubara is not new. It has been there since the administration of former Governor Wike, your FCT Minister. The difference is that it was not declared, not reported and not recorded in the financial books of the state. Governor Fubara only brought the amount into the books.

Rivers people are outraged that about 15 billion naira was hidden away monthly from the coffers of the state. The outrage is heightened by the fact that it amounts to a staggering 180 billion naira a year – more than the Ekiti State 2024 budget of 159.5 billion naira.

Nobody knows for how long this perceived fraud lasted. Nobody knows how much was involved in total. This is why I am writing this letter to you to save the soul of Rivers State.

In the past, serious corruption allegations were made against Rivers State governors. The EFCC made several incursions into the state, howbeit futile due to a perpetual court injunction secured by former Governor Peter Odili in March 2007.

River State had since become a free zone for corruption. The state is a ‘slave depot’. The people are stolen blind. Shackled and manacled by their own judiciary, they can’t even ask questions. This is happening in a 21st century Nigeria.

I therefore plead with my President to intervene again in the affairs of Rivers State and bring renewed hope to the people.

How can we know if the claim of 15 billion naira monthly increase by Governor Fubara is true? How can we know if the allegations that the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike kept 15 billion naira monthly IGR is true? How can we know the truth if nobody can investigate the finances of Rivers State?

In this same country, governors have been arraigned for stealing and some convicted. Few days ago, the immediate past governor of Kogi State was declared wanted and arraigned in absentia for allegedly misappropriating about 80 billion naira. But in Rivers State we are talking about 180 billion naira and the law says that nobody can investigate it.

In the past, the EFCC, the Senate and even the Attorney General of the federation made efforts to vacate the court injunction against the liberty of Rivers people. But all came to nothing, overpowered by the force of the very thing they sought to fight.

Mr. President, there is no gainsaying that if the amount allegedly misappropriated by Rivers State governors since 1999 were invested in the state, our children won’t have gone into militancy, drugs and oil theft. And to think that it can’t be investigated is to subject the people to modern slavery.

I therefore plead with Mr. President to urgently request the Attorney General of the federation, the EFCC, the NJC and all relevant bodies to quickly see to it that the perpetual injunction against Rivers people is vacated. It is not against the EFCC but against the impoverished people of Rivers State.

Thereafter, a thorough investigation be made into the allegations of fraud in the IGR of Rivers State during the tenure of Nyesom Wike as governor and all the financial heists against past Rivers State governors.

Your Excellency, this will give the much needed renewed hope to Rivers people and put a stop to brazen looting of the state coffers and the attendant social vices.

While we await your urgent intervention, please accept the assurances of our highest regard always.

Yours Sincerely,
Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo
Senior citizen
April 23, 2024

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