Rivers assets sales contract termination: Tonye Cole warns Wike
Tony John, Port Harcourt
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has urged the state government not to take political actions, that might have negative effect on the economy of the state.
Cole made the appeal during a chat with journalists in Port Harcourt, saying that the announcement by the State Executive Council (SEC) cancelling the sale of power station to subsidiaries of Sahara Energy was political and might have serious consequence for investors willing to do business in the state.
He told journalists that some of business deals which included the concession of Olympia Hotel, were done in line with international best practices, explaining that the sale of the gas turbines power stations followed proper bidding process.
Speaking further, Cole who said he would spend the festive season in Buguma (hometown), pointed out that the political practice in Rivers is not healthy for the state and its people.
But reacting to the statement by the APC governorship flag bearer, the state government advised him to stop sermonising about the tainted sale of high-value state assets to his companies.
Faulting Cole’s comments, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, told the APC governorship hopeful to search his conscience well about the sales of high-calibre public assets to companies linked to him by the previous administration headed by his friend and business partner.
Okah said the claim was coming late in the day because the State Executive Council which approved the implementation of the white paper is not a court and not equipped or authorised to carry out judicial functions.
“At the level of implementation of the recommendations of the judicial commission of inquiry accepted through the white paper, the duty of the exco is to obey the law and implement the stipulations as contained in the white paper and nothing more,” Okah said, noting that the courts are open to anyone who feels otherwise.
Okah noted that the affected companies linked to Cole defended themselves during the proceedings of the commission and urged him to test the findings of the commission if he felt short changed.
“Rivers State government is under an obligation to protect the interest of the people of the state and owes no apology to Arch. Tonye Cole or his companies, if a judicial commission finds that they acted improperly, especially where rules were compromised to make one man acquire such highly-valued assets of the state like the four power stations, Olympia Hotel in Old GRA and Abonemma Wharf.”
It would be recalled that the Rivers State government, at its last Executive Council meeting approved the implementation of the Government White Paper on the sale of highly-valued assets of the state by the previous administration.
The White Paper contained the recommendations of the report of the Justice George Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which were accepted by the State Executive Council and now overdue for implementation.