By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- GOVERNOR Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum yesterday said that the State government has not at the moment purchased new Airplanes, just as it was not contemplating going into such a venture.
Governor Amaechi described as a figment of imagination by those who have alleged that ahead of 2015 Presidential election, he acquired armoured helicopters and private jest, even as he stressed that the State government will not derail from keeping with its promise to render transparent and accountable stewardship.
According to him, ‘’the Rivers State government had announced its intention to purchase two security helicopters at several fora.’’
A statement signed yesterday in Abuja by the Rivers State Commissioner of Information and Communications, Ibim Semenitari read, ‘’the attention of the government of Rivers State has been drawn to deliberate and repeated attempts by a group of disgruntled and self-serving politicians to engage in a smear campaign against the Governor Chibuike Amaechi led administration.
‘’As a government we have watched with amazement as these charlatans go overboard in their attempt to concoct stories and seek for relevance and cheap popularity.
‘’The latest allegation is that Governor Amaechi has acquired armoured helicopters and private jest ahead of 2015. Whilst this is a figment of the writer’s imagination, the Rivers State government in keeping with its promise to render transparent and accountable stewardship to the people of Rivers State will like to reiterate as follows:
The Rivers State government had announced its intention to purchase two security helicopters at several fora.
‘’The Rivers State Government has always owned a private jet and has NOT purchased any new airplanes nor does it intend to purchase one. As is typical of Governor Amaechi, such purchases would be openly and transparently done and so would not need to be a matter of conjecturing.
‘’The helicopters, 2 bell 412 helicopters with camera payload for aerial surveillance of Rivers State were purchased as part of the state government’s collaboration with the federal government and its support for the security agencies in the state.
‘’The total cost of the helicopters was 29 million USD. The Federal Government of Nigeria through the office of the National Security Adviser paid 15 million USD, while the Rivers State Government paid the balance. The Federal Government granted duty waiver.
‘’The aircraft are being freighted into Nigeria and will be reassembled in Lagos. The helicopters are to be operated by the Nigerian police in conjunction with the oil companies who have offered to bear some of the operating cost to enable government combat the menace of oil bunkering.
‘’The police took delivery of similar choppers in 2012 built by the same company. The 412 four axis choppers are rated the most advanced civil helicopters in the world.
‘’The acquisition, which was done with the support of the federal government, is to enhance security of lives and property in Rivers State.
‘’The Government of Rivers State has repeatedly supported the security agencies by investing in state of the art up to date security equipment as has indeed been acknowledged by all. Our investments have been pivotal to the restoration of peace and security not only in Rivers State but also in the Niger Delta and indeed the South South and South East regions of Nigeria.
‘’One finds it therefore very disturbing that anyone will trivialize a matter as serious as the security of not just the lives of Rivers people but also the commonwealth of all Nigerians.
‘’Finally the Rivers State government wishes to acknowledge and thank the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his quick action and amazing support leading to the purchase of these helicopters. His commitment to national security and willingness to collaborate with al tiers of government and all sectors to ensure the security of lives and property is worthy of accolade and support.
‘’The Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi led administration wishes to re affirm its commitment to the people of Rivers State and the governor’s determination to fulfill his oath of office to protect lives and property of all who reside, work and do business in Rivers State.’’