The Rivers State House of Assembly has passed a bill directing the state government to withdraw N30bn from the N53bn in the government’s reserve fund.
Rivers State Government has the tradition of saving N1bn every month in reserve for emergency purposes.
The Speaker of the House, Mr. Otelemaba Dan-Amachree, said the mandate given to the executive arm of government to gain access to the fund was to enable the state governor – Rotimi Amaechi – to address the challenges facing the government.
The Speaker also cited the ceding of the state’s oil wells to Bayelsa and Abia states as reason for the withdrawal of the said sum from the reserve fund as the state was experiencing a temporary cash crunch.
“You recall that the Federal Government has ceded our oil wells in Soku to Bayelsa State. It has ceded our oil wells to Abia and we have been losing close to N7bn or more every month for the past one year now”, he said.
Dan-Amachree, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Leyii Kwanee, recalled that the state government had to pay the salaries of 13,000 teachers employed some months ago.
He added that contractors had already abandoned their construction sites as a result of the non-payment of their dues, saying part of the funds to be withdrawn would be used to address the matter.
The Speaker said, “The Rivers State Reserve Fund Law (Amendment) Bill of 2014 has just been passed, mandating the executive arm of government to access N30bn from the reserve fund. It is only effective only if this amendment has been assented to.
“Of course, we are not going to pass this resolution on to them until the bill has been assented to and made to become law. So, I want this clarification for record purpose so that we will not be misquoted.
“You can see that over 13,000 teachers have not been paid for quite some time. You can see that virtually all the contractors seem to have pulled out of the sites. The governor intends to inject some of these funds into all of these sites that the contractors have pulled out from”.
Mr. Dan-Amachree pointed out that Gov. Amaechi was expected to sign the bill into law, adding that the House would resume sitting in the next two weeks.
Earlier, leader of the House and Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on the State Reserve Fund Law (Amendment) Bill of 2014, Hon. Chidi Lloyd, had proposed that some sections of the law prohibiting the State Assembly from probing how the fund was managed should be amended.