Aircraft Debate Deepens Wike, Amaechi Faceoff
The prolonged faceoff between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his predecessor in office, Rotimi Amaechi, who is the current Minister of Transportation, was renewed early in the week when Wike said the Rivers State Government has through intelligence discovered one of the state-owned Legacy 600 aircraft, that was flown to and abandoned in Germany since 2012 by the Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi-led administration.
The governor, said it was unreasonable for the immediate past administration to have surreptitiously taken a state-owned asset to Germany and abandon same there, without any documentation.
Amaechi however denied the allegation from Wike that he abandoned an aircraft belonging to Rivers State in Germany.
Speaking on behalf of the former governor, Tolofari George, a former commissioner, said “it was not possible that an aircraft that was properly documented in the handover note of the state Ministry of Transport in 2015 can be said to be abandoned.”
George said as the commissioner, he supervised the documentation of the aircraft, which was sent to Germany for repairs in the handover notes the ministry gave to Wike’s government in 2015 and wondered how anybody will claim the same aircraft, which was recommended for repairs and sale was abandoned by the former government.
But Wike, who led a delegation of Rivers leaders to General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany, where the aircraft was packed for ten years, said efforts to repair and retrieve the aircraft has cost the state government over three million Euros.
Speaking during a meeting with the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, Wike said his administration in a bid to recover state assets, had through intelligence discovered that the Legacy 600 jet purchased by the Dr Peter Odili’s administration was in Germany.
“When we came into office in 2015, we never had an idea that our plane was in your facility. It was a matter of asking questions before we got the information that Legacy 600 belonging to our State is in RUAG, before General Atomics. We tried to make contact with you and which you obliged. So, we want to sincerely thank you for not hiding anything from us, because it is the property of the state government.
“This plane was bought in 2003 by the government of Dr Peter Odili, and by 2007, he had handed over to the next government which was my predecessor’s, now, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. While he was in office, by 2012 this plane was brought here. Reasons we do not know.”
Wike also denied existence of any document indicating that the State-owned aircraft was flown to Germany and abandoned for inexplicable reasons.
“The issue is, why was there no documentation to let the incoming government know that we have this facility and we sent it to RUAG for inspection. Again, I do know from experience that inspection of such facility does not take more than six months. So, if it was brought in 2012, expectantly at least, by early 2013, the plane ought to have come back for use.”
Wike said he had to travel to Munich, Germany with a state delegation to prove that the Legacy 600 aircraft has been discovered and about to be returned to the State government.
Those on the governor’s entourage included, the Speaker Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani; Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ehie Ogerenye Edison; Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor; member of House of Representatives, Hon. Ken Chikere; Rivers State chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Ambassador Desmond Akawor; Chairman, Ikwerre LGA, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike among others.
The General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, expressed delight that Governor Wike took the initiative to repair and return the aircraft to Nigeria for use by the State government. He said his company will be done with general maintenance work and deliver the aircraft to the State government by March.