Chukwudi Akasike and Friday Amobi, Port Harcourt

A non-governmental organisation, Social Action, on Friday threatened that it would commence an aggressive campaign against Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State over his failure to make the budget of the state public.

Social Action stated that the campaign would start from Monday against the state government, explaining that it was wrong for the governor to rule a state with a hidden budget.

This is as the State Government insisted that the state budgets had never been a secret document and had never been hidden.

The group was particularly concerned about the invisibility of 2015, 2016 and 2017 Rivers State budgets which they claimed had affected the efficient and effective participation of citizens in the development of their state.

Speaking during a roundtable meeting in Port Harcourt on an Open Budget and Citizen’s Participation for Effective Budget Performance, the Senior Programme Manager, Ken Henshaw, alleged that no member of the public had seen Rivers State budgets since Wike assumed office in 2015.

Henshaw urged the state government to make its budgets open for the sake of transparency and accountability, adding that members of the public should be allowed to participate in governance of their state.

He stated that only government officials knew the cost of projects in the state due to the treatment of the budget as a secret document.

He said, “We are going to embark on aggressive budgets campaign against Rivers State Government for not making public the budget since they assumed office. We have written severally demanding for the budget all to no avail.

“The unavailability of these budgets from 2015 till date has made it possible for members of the public to participate in governance. This time, we will not rest until Rivers budget is made public.”

Henshaw, however, decried the awards given to some governors, who were indebted to workers through unpaid salaries, adding that such acts have always made politicians to feel that they were running a transparent government.

Reacting, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Emma Okah, said the position of the group was politically motivated, describing it as the handiwork of the All Progressives Congress.

Okah said, “The call by the group is politically motivated. This (call) is also the handiwork of the APC in the state. The governor had done very well and because the opposition has nothing to criticise him on, they resorted to blackmail. The fact is that the budget of Rivers State is not hidden and it is not a hidden document.”

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