When we received the news that the Hon Commissioner of Finance had responded to news reports on the secrecy surrounding the sale of Rivers state assets to friends and cronies, we anticipated that finally we would have a meaningful engagement and that a debate on the issues was imminent. We quickly sought to see what details and substance he would provide. We were not expecting him to be totally open, because we knew he knew little about what was going on. However what we didn’t expect was an empty and verbose monologue.
Claims about a malicious publication, yet no redress sought from publishers, personal attacks on the Prince, bogus allegations and references to unnamed projects of questionable intent with no clear objectives, yet governments are the ones who should set objectives and deliver on them. Plenty waffle, little substance and in the end we are still where we are. Without answers. Little or no detail. All from a government of eight years.
He claims the Prince should keep quiet on the subject of public finance because in his words; “He knows nothing about it”. This is the arrogance we hoped to avoid. Any citizen should be able to ask basic questions on the state of our public finances. The money belongs to us. If there was indeed full disclosure as he claims, there would be no need to ask the obvious. But in order to give him the benefit of the doubt, we will ask again. Please Hon Commissioner,
1. Were assets sold? Name them and the transactions.
2. Who were they sold to? We want to know the names.
3. How much were they sold for? And how and when was it paid?
4. How was the figure determined? Was there a bid, a valuation, who participated?
5. Constantly he claims it is in the public domain. Name the publication.
6. Where exactly are the monies now?
The last point is very important. Important because the Hon Commissioner seems to suggest that the money is “steadily being deployed in the funding of ongoing infrastructure projects”. What does that mean? With what budget provision? Rivers people sincerely hope that this is not another code name for the stomach infrastructure of APC delegates and the unsuspecting Nigerian public in a general election.
He closed by saying he the Commissioner participated in “several of these transactions” not all of them, which immediately sounded alarm bells. Which ones did he not participate in? Is this a confirmation of the Prince’s fears? The Governor possibly acting outside the state’s financial system? There is more to this than meets the eye. You made no mention of Olympia and Abonema Wharf. Yet the Prince raised them too. Why?
If the statement from an Honorable Commissioner of Finance was not so weighty, this attempt would be laughable. I want to call on the state government to launch a full and independent inquiry into the sale of all these assets with immediate effect or give credence to the concerns raised by the candidate for the Labour party. This is not to be swept under the carpet.
The response by the Honorable Commissioner of Finance is laughable, unnecessarily rude and full of grammatical illusions. If I were to be a fly on the wall, one could almost state, with a high degree of certainty, that he did not write this statement unless it was at gun point. Money was received in the consolidated account he claims, but provides no details to guide us.
An election is coming and these and other issues are matters of importance to the people whom you have the privilege to serve. Rather than engage in personal attacks, it might be wiser to focus on the gravity of what is at stake. Public funds, public assets and public interest. Mr Commissioner, Prince Tonye Princewill is an Imperial college graduate of Mineral Resources Engineering and a Prince 2 certified project manager who understands more than you can imagine about public finance. He helped draw up the first budget for Rivers state under Rotimi Amaechi and was a member of the Economic Advisory council.
This is not about Tonye Princewill, Rotimi Amaechi or your Honorable self. It is about Rivers state and our people. A prompt response to the above laid down questions and requests are expected. The people await to hear from you. Preferably devoid of the insults. It’s best we focus on the issues. The people expect this from us.
Spokesperson – Finance and Budget Planning
Prince Tonye Princewill Campaign Team