Ogoni: Buhari’s Botched Visit Costs Rivers N2.5bn | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ogoni: Buhari’s Botched Visit Costs Rivers N2.5bn

Posted: Jun 3, 2016 at 6:07 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Reliable sources in Rivers State government estimates that no less than N2.5 billion may have gone into planning the botched visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state as part of ceremony to flag-off the clean-up of Ogoniland, Independent learnt on Thursday.

The absence of President Buhari owing to a last minute cancellation of the trip is said to have left a sour taste in the mouth of Nyesom Wike, the state governor, even though he remained mum over the incident when Independent made attempts to hear his comment on the cancelled visit.

Niger Delta Avengers, the militant group that has wreaked havoc blowing up oil installations in the region, had threatened to kill President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday as he was billed to launch the clean-up Ogoniland project recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Buhari cancelled his planned trip to Ogoni, asking Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to act in his stead.

A senior Government House source, however, informed that no less than N2.5 billion had been spent before the presidential advance team arrived in Port Harcourt on Thursday morning.

There are indications that another N500 million may also have been spent by private individuals, corporate bodies and politicians in planning to receive Buhari on the historic visit in Port Harcourt.

The source hinted that Rivers was to cater for as much as 240 high profile people on the Federal Government’s protocol list as special guests drawn from across the states of the federation, aside from the presidential advance team including presidency staff and the security.

“The money covers accommodation, feeding, some other logistics not envisaged by the Aso Rock protocol team and so on,” explained the source.

President Buhari, in what is now becoming a regular pattern after the Lagos no-show incident last month, cancelled the Rivers State official visit on Thursday. Like it happened in his aborted schedule to Lagos, the cancellation came at the last minute even after the presidential advance team was already in the place of visit. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was, however, delegated to represent the president, just as the Lagos event.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had raised the alarm that Akinwumi Ambode, the Lagos State governor, may have lavished a whopping N3.5 billion on preparations to receive President Buhari during the botched visit to the state,

This allegedly represented money spent to put up bill boards by the private sector, man-hours lost by corporate sector expecting a breakfast meeting with the president only for it to be cancelled and money used by individuals to place adverts in papers and so on.

The presidency has yet to give detailed explanation on the cancelled visit of President Buhari to Ogoniland, as efforts to reach Femi Adesina and Shehu Garba, the president’s media aides, yielded no results after repeated calls to their mobile phones. Adesina, in an online publication later in the day said that the trip to Rivers was not cancelled. Rather, the vice president was sent to represent the president.

However, the presidency, on Thursday, was a house filled with cacophony of reasons for the botched trip. Some, for instance, cited security reasons for the late cancellation. Sources in the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) hinted in enquiries by this newspaper that the threat by Niger Delta Avenger (NDA) on the person of the president should he visit the Niger Delta could not be discountenanced in view of wider implication to the security of the nation.

Other sources told Independent that the botched visit to Rivers maybe as result of a planned visit by Buhari outside the country.

According to an insider, a trip to Rivers State might leave the president too exhausted to make a trip being planned for next week.

As part of his agenda to help the Niger Delta, President Buhari committed his administration to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report which recommended that Federal Government and the oil majors clean up the oil spill in the Niger Delta.

Pundits projected the event to be a cardinal part of Buhari’s administration which may well demonstrate his love for the region.

Adesina was, however, mum on why the president chose to send his deputy instead of appearing in person at the historic flag-off of the clean-up of Ogoniland.