By Chinelo Obogo
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has denied allegations from Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, that he abandoned an aircraft belonging to the state government in Germany.
Speaking on behalf of the former Rivers governor, Tolofari George, who is a former commissioner for transport, said in a statement that it is not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the state ministry of transport to the incoming administration in 2015, can be said to have been abandoned.
He said the legacy aircraft was sent to Germany for repairs and refurbishment and then was to be sold to generate revenue as there was no economic sense to keep and maintain two state-owned planes as the cost was just too prohibitive.
“It is simply not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the state ministry of transport (which I supervised as commissioner) to the incoming administration in 2015, can be said to be secretly abandoned. When we got the new aircraft that the current government is using now, the older legacy aircraft was sent to Germany for repairs and refurbishment and then to be sold to generate revenue for critical infrastructural projects in the state. There was no economic sense to keep and maintain two state-owned planes as the cost was just too prohibitive, so the plan was to sell off the older Legacy plane.
“The plane was still in Germany at the time we handed over to the incoming administration. Everything was in the handover notes of the ministry of transport. In 2015 when the new administration took over, they claimed the same aircraft had been stolen. Today, they are now saying again that the aircraft was secretly abandoned.
“That the Legacy aircraft was in RUAG, Germany was written in my handover notes that is in the custody of the Rivers State government. In 2015 when they made an issue of Rivers State having two aircrafts, and that one has been stolen, I issued a statement which reiterated that the aircraft was in Germany. Sometime last year, a staff of Rivers State government got in touch with me, asking questions about the aircraft. I clearly told him where it was. So, I just don’t understand what this current fuss is about?
“We couldn’t have taken an aircraft to Germany and just dump it there and walk away without proper and formal documentation. Is RUAG, Germany, a dumping ground? I recalled that Rivers State government had made an issue of the new aircraft currently in use, having a United States registration number, accusing the past government of wanting to steal the aircraft.
“They accused us of doing foreign registration for the sole purpose of wanting to steal the aircraft.