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Wike warns new LG chairmen against borrowing without state approval.

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Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt.

Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, has warned newly sworn-in chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state not to borrow money from any bank without first clearing with the state government.

The governor gave the warning shortly after the elected chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state took their oaths of office at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday.

According to Wike, the caution has become necessary in order to stem unguarded desire of some council chairman to access money without any development plan.

He warned; “Don’t go and borrow money without the state government approval. Some of you tried it last time and started with your blackmail, saying help us, we are finished. You have no authority to go and borrow money.  Even we as State government, before we go and borrow money, we get approval from the Debt Management Office. No bank will even give us.

“Before you borrow money, the state must know what you want to use it for, and how  you will pay it back. So, that others who are coming will not suffer because of your indebtedness.”

The governor also charged the council chairmen to pay proper attention to issues of security in order to stem likely security breaches in their various councils.

He particularly urged them to establish a robust working relationship both with the divisional police officers (DPOs) and the traditional rulers that will engender having regular security meetings for proper briefings.

“Stay in your council areas. Don’t stay in hotels and in Port Harcourt. If you’re not at home, how do you know about the security situation in your local government. Security is key.

“Relate with your DPOs. It does not cost you anything. Even if it cost you, governance is not easy. Governance is expensive. Security is expensive. Some of you cannot relate with the DPOs.

“It’s only when you have a problem that you relate with your DPOs and some of them are intelligent and when you call them that time, they turn their face the other way. You must make effort to relate with your DPOs”, Wike added.

He also urged the council chairmen to ensure they hold security council meeting weekly or better still, once in every two weeks for proper briefing.

Speaking further, Governor Wike warned them against embarking on needless journeys outside of the state and the country without notifying the state government.

He also encouraged them to work to strengthen the unity of the party in their various councils, consult widely with the leaders over appointments, and on other issues that will give everybody a sense of belonging.

Wike frowned at the worsening sanitary conditions particularly in Obio-Akpor, Port Harcourt city, Eleme, Oyigbo local government areas, and charged the council chairmen to work assiduously to regularly evaluate refuse dumped on major roads in their councils.

The state governor revealed that the state government prevented the former chairmen whose tenure ended on Wednesday from paying local government workers salary due to security report and complains by some councillors and political appointees that they will not be paid what was due them.

“So, I decided to suspend the payment of local government workers and political appointees, so that the newly sworn in chairmen will have to pay them without any crisis whatsoever.”

He said the state government will set up a committee to oversee the payment of all entitlement of immediate past chairmen, their political appointees and councillors. According to him: “all the former council chairmen, all political appointees and councillors must be paid their money.”

Governor Wike said he has received intelligence report that some council chairmen have sworn that they will not swear in some elected councillors who they perceived to be opposed to them. He warned that if this happens, appropriate sanction will be taken against the erring council chairmen.

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