By Kote Obe, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has described as unconscionable the abandonment of an aircraft belonging to the state government in Munich, Germany, by the former Chibuike Amaechi administration in the state.
Wike, who led a team of government and party leaders of the state to where the aircraft was discovered said the Rivers State government had through intelligence discovered one of the state-owned Legacy 600 aircraft, that was flown and abandoned in Germany since 2012 by Governor Chibuike Amaechi led administration.
The governor said it was unthinkable that the preceding administration could abandon the aircraft in a foreign country without any documentation.
The visit took the team to General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany, where the aircraft had been abandoned for ten years. He said the state government has now spent over €3 million to repair and retrieve the aircraft.
At a meeting with the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, Governor Wike explained that his administration had through intelligence discovered that the Legacy 600 jet purchased by Dr. Peter Odili’s administration was in Germany.
“When we came into office in 2015, we never had an idea that our plane was in your facility. It was a matter of asking questions before we got the information that Legacy 600 belonging to our State is in RUAG, before General Atomics. We tried to make contact with you and you obliged. So, we want to sincerely thank you for not hiding anything from us, because it is the property of the State government.
“This plane was bought in 2003 by the government of Dr. Peter Odili, and by 2007 he had handed over to the next government which was my predecessor’s, now, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. While he was in office, by 2012 this plane was brought here. Reasons we do not know.”
Governor Wike said not a single document indicating that the state-owned aircraft was flown to Germany and abandoned for inexplicable reasons.
“The issue is, why was there no documentation to let the incoming government know that we have this facility and we sent it to RUAG for inspection. Again, I do know from experience that inspection of such a facility does not take more than six months. So, if it was brought in 2012, expectantly at least, by early 2013, the plane ought to have come back for use.”
Governor Wike said he had to travel to Munich, Germany with a state delegation to prove that the Legacy 600 aircraft has been discovered and about to be returned to the State government.
The General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, said the aircraft was brought to Germany by the immediate past administration and abandoned since 2012.
He expressed delight that Governor Wike took the initiative to repair and return the aircraft to Nigeria for use by the State government. According to him, his company will be done with general maintenance work and deliver the aircraft to the State government by March.
The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said he was elated that the aircraft has been recovered by the State government. According to him, State lawmakers will continue to support every effort to recover all government assets and property.