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Fubara Directs Audit Of Rivers Local Councils’ Accounts

Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has directed the Auditor-General of Local Governments to commence immediate audit of the accounts of the 23 Councils.

He gave the directive during the swearing-in exercise of 23 local government chairmen on Wednesday at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House in Port Harcourt.

The swearing-in followed the screening and confirmation of the nominees for caretaker committee chairmen and members by the State House of Assembly at the plenary presided over by its Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, on Wednesday.

The list of seven-member nominees per local government council had been forwarded to the Assembly pursuant to Section 9 (5) of the Rivers State Local Government Law No. 5 of 2018, for screening and confirmation.

The Governor said the exercise demonstrated his administration’s commitment to upholding the tenets of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that does not provide for tenure elongation.

He explained: “What is happening here now is a defence of democracy. We will not allow the wrong precedent to be created in this country.

“It is not about Rivers State. It is not about Fubara. But if in any way this attempt of tenure elongation succeeds in Rivers State, it becomes a norm in Nigeria.

“So, we have taken it upon ourselves to say, not on our own watch will it happen because it is completely alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Governor Fubara wondered why the tenure of elected officers would expire, and they wanted to perpetuate themselves in office against their oath of office and the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria.

The Governor sounded it clear that such insistence to elongate tenure of council chairmen will not happen in Rivers State, and advised the out-gone chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors to let go and return home.

He said, “So, for those people who are saying, the only reason why we (they) want to continue in office is because elections have not been conducted, we have more than 85 percent of the States in Nigeria that are being run by caretaker committees.

“Ours is different, you had your tenure, you have completed your tenure, it is proper you let go. Life doesn’t create a vacuum. If you are not there again, that is, if your tenure has expired, doesn’t mean I should, because I want to please you, allow you to stay longer. No. It doesn’t happen like that. People must take over, manage the affairs and elections will be conducted.”

Governor Fubara pointed to the importance of knowing how finances of the 23 Local Government Councils were managed in the last three years, and directed the Auditor-General of Local Governments to begin auditing the accounts and make the report available within the next one month.

Specifically, Governor Fubara said: “I also want to say that, for the local government activities in the past three years, I would want to mandate: which is official assignment, not even a statutory duty, that the Auditor-General should immediately commence the audit of the 23 Local Government Councils in the past three years, and come up with the result in the next one month.

“It is important that we will know what has happened and how our funds were being used in those 23 Local Government Areas. It is important that it will be a check for those people who are also coming.”

He warned them against any form of confrontation, insisting that such is not in his nature and style but advised them to be law-abiding as they take full control of the local government councils.

He said, “Whatever happened yesterday (Tuesday), I know and the world knows that it is not from you people. Some persons caused it. So, let us not give them the opportunity to continue to make our State look bad in the comity of States.

“So, when you go back, if there is any situation, you should be law- abiding. I don’t want any confrontation. You can operate from anywhere for now. But the most important thing is that you have the control of the Local Government today.”

Governor Fubara urged them to ensure that they compute and pay the outstanding financial benefits and entitlements, including salaries of the outgoing chairman, vice-chairmen and councillors.

He added, “I am not of the class to say that because something happened, you should maltreat them. No. Whatever is their entitlement, ensure that they get it.”

Governor Fubara instructed the CTC chairmen to work hard to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in their various council areas.

The Governor expressed worry about the negative media portrayal of the State as ridden with crisis, and urged them to ensure that what they do changes such a negative narrative.

“Please, I want to appeal to you that when you go back, I don’t want a crisis. Just manage the situation as much as you can. God does not start and end half-way. That is the truth. Since God has started with us, He will definitely complete His work in our lives.

“I don’t want any fight. I don’t want any life to be lost because it does not earn me anything. We know that we can overcome, and we have been overcoming,” he advised the chairmen.

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