Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State says he does not belong to the confederacy of elected looters whom President Muhammadu Buhari accused of stealing local government allocation.
Buhari had on Thursday blamed governors for the pervasive under development of communities at the council areas, claiming that governors were tampering with the monthly allocations to the local councils.
But reacting in Asaba through his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, Okowa who is the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said it was unfortunate for the president to have made such a “blanket statement.”
He said: “I want to say that Mr President, as one who has all the information about issues in the country, knows the governors who fall into that category of the so-called ‘thieves’ he was referring to
We all know that our own Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, does not belong there. He was one of the first governors, if not the first, to embrace local government autonomy when it was agreed on just like he did with the judiciary and the legislature.
“He went as far as getting legislation to grant autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary. He allowed them to run autonomously. And, for a man, who allowed these organs of government to have autonomy, he cannot have anything to do with funds belonging to the local governments.
“I repeat that the government of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, every month, augments the finances of local governments in the state with more than N300 million to make sure they are able to pay their salaries and stay afloat.
“He does that religiously monthly; so, for a man who does that, how can he be among those who steal local government money?
“Our governor is not part of it. You are also aware that the government of Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa recently released N5 billion for pension arrears; N2.5 billion of that was a grant to the local government for payment of pensions.
“It is a grant to the local government; they are not going to pay. The governor did that because the local governments have to fund their activities, pay their teachers and healthcare workers.”