Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has said the recovery and eventual return of the seemingly lost asset to the state, Legacy 600 aircraft, was a reality, and not mere politics.
Wike, who had embarked on a short trip to London last Friday, spoke after receiving the Legacy 600 aircraft that touched down at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the State on Tuesday afternoon.
At the brief reception that took place at the airport, there were some cultural displays staged by Rivers women and youths to celebrate the return of the state-owned aircraft secretly abandoned in Germany by the immediate past administration in the state.
Wike explained that it took an intelligence report for his administration to discover such an asset, owned by the Rivers State government.
Wike further said the immediate past administration flew the aircraft to far away Germany, without any record of it made available to his administration.
He said, “To the glory of God, the plane is back and Rivers people can see. Nigerians can see. It is not that we are playing politics.
“All we are saying is that we never knew. Nobody told us until we got intelligence that we have this asset somewhere.”
He recalled that the Legacy 600 Aircraft was purchased by the Dr. Peter Odili’s led administration to serve the interest of Rivers people, but was abandoned with the General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany by the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi’s administration since 2012.
“What is very important to all of us here today is that when we came into power in 2015, nobody handed over any report or gave us handover note to let us know where such an asset of the state was, only for us to hear in 2019 that this asset is somewhere,” Wike said.
The governor also stated that so much money was spent by the state government on the aircraft; money that would have been put into other development projects if his administration had known of it quite early.
According to him, in fixing the aircraft, a certificate of airworthiness certificate, issued by the Nigerian government, was secured for the aircraft to return to Nigeria.
The Rivers State Governor said, “Of course, we did everything we could do and we told Nigerians that by the grace of God, we will not allow this asset to go that way.
“We must return it for the people of the State to decide what they are going to do with it. I am so elated that at the end of the day, all of our struggles are not in vain.
“I think Rivers people for the support. I thank the Rivers State House of Assembly for the support. I thank the Executive for the support.
“But for their support, it would not have been possible to spend the money we spent. If you hear the money we spent, its money that would have been put in other development projects if we were told on time.”
The Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon.Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, expressed delight that after ten years, the Rivers State government has successfully recovered the aircraft.
He said the State government will decide how the asset will be used in furtherance of the state’s development.
Senator Barry Mpigi, who represents Rivers South-East District in the Senate, commended governor Wike for his tenacity to defend the interest of the State.
According to him, the recovered aircraft is additional asset to the government and people of Rivers State.
The chairman, Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, said governor Wike has once again demonstrated his zeal to protect the interest of the State.
The King lauded the governor for not allowing the State property to get lost in Europe and unaccounted for.
The former Presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C. Okocha, SAN and Okey Wali, SAN said the State governor has proven his determination to defend the interest of the State.
In the same vein, the Chief Ferdinand Alabraba and His Royal Majesty, Nne-Nwe-Eli Emohua XIII (OLO IV), Ohna Sergeant Chidi Awuse, said recovery of the aircraft remains a credit to the governor Wike’s administration.