Peterside denies N3.1bn fraud, says Rivers second most indebted state
Aformer Director-general of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside, has denied allegations by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that he embezzled N3.1bn meant for development projects in the Opobo Local Government Area of the state.
Peterside, a former Commissioner of Works in the administration of Rotimi Amaechi, said some of the projects were canalisation, shore protection, sand filling and jetty construction in Queens Town in Opobo Local Government Area of the State.
While reacting to the governor’s allegations on a radio programme, 92.3 Nigeria Info, Port Harcourt, monitored by our correspondent, said the projects awarded in 2010 were to the tune of N1.9bn and not N3.1bn as alleged.
He stated, “Under my watch in the first one year, I am aware that the contractor mobilised to site to do canalisation, which is the first part of the project.
“I am also aware that the contractor at the time was paid for the initial mobilisation, and I left. I was elected to the House of Representatives by my people. What transpired after then, I cannot give account of those things. I know that at some point, they had issues with the design of the project.
“I don’t know if they were able to resolve those issues until the advent of the Wike administration. For a man, who had no plans for the people of Opobo, he found an excuse not to continue with the project.”
Peterside also countered claims that the Rivers State Government did not owe any bank, adding that the state was the second most indebted state in the country.
Wike had insisted that the state did not owe any bank, even as he challenged any financial institution being owed to come forward.
But the EX-NIMASA boss said, “Rivers State is the second most indebted state in the country. I like to put that fact out. There is a debt management office. You can verify this.
“At the time the last governor left office, Rivers State owed in the neighbourhood of N15bn to N25bn. But as of today, Rivers State owes in excess of N200bn. I am not talking of domestic debt tied to contracts. So, it is wrong to say Rivers State is now borrowing the same way the Federal Government is borrowing.
“The challenge is not that you shouldn’t borrow. What are you borrowing for? How are you spending the money you are borrowing without being able to create an economy for Rivers State? Our economy is not thriving.”
He also said building of flyovers did not mean that the government was successful in the area of infrastructure.