By George Onah
Port Harcourt- Following the condemnation by the Rivers State Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, of the purchase of a new aircraft by the state government, “instead of building roads and hospitals”, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has denied that it bought a new aircraft, just as he disclosed that the state received N45 billion for July allocation from the Federation Account.
The ACN governorship candidate in the last election Dr. Abiye Sekibo had accused both the executive and legislative arms of being “hugely and dangerously corrupt”, particularly because the state House of Assembly allegedly gave its nod to the governor to purchase a new aircraft.
But Amaechi said the government traded one of the three aircrafts owned by the state government for a bigger brand new one, while it sold one to Cross River State Government for nine million US dollars and “we are using the money to build 10 primary schools”.
The governor, who spoke in a radio programme in Port Harcourt, said “we are not just buying a new plane we are trading one of the old ones for something new and I don’t see anything wrong with that”, stating that the government would only pay the difference in the price between the old and new.
He explained that safety must be the watchword when dealing with anything mechanical, including aircrafts and that the air ambulance was two small to withstand turbulent weather, hence the need to acquire a bigger plane.
“If you look at the size of the plane and the current climatic conditions when you fly, you will see how dangerous it is for us to fly in that small plane and I also don’t see the need to keep two aircrafts flying the governor that’s why I sold it”.
Amaechi said the N45 billion allocation was part of arrears of allocation from January to June while the State’s internally generated revenue for June stood at five billion naira, telling the people that he was not a thief and that the leadership of the state was being prudent with its money.
He urged the opposition in the land to choose its words well and be constructive when blaming the activities of government “which means well for the people” and intensifying efforts to improve the standard of living of the citizenry.