Since Nyesom Wike took office, he has refused to make the Rivers state budget accessible to the public, unlike his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi.
In 2016 and 2017, the farthest Rivers people came to knowing the contents of their state budget were the budget proposal speeches delivered by the governor. The governor has shown no sign of changing his opaque style in the 2019 fiscal year in which he presented a budget of N510 billion.
Already a coalition of civil society groups are in court seeking to compel the governor to make public the previous year’s budget as the secrecy has led to governance by impulse in which Wike announces projects on the spot.
On Friday however, Rivers residents got to know at least one item contained in the state’s 2018 budget: A Christian Trust Fund to cater for pastors.
According to Gov. Wike, who spoke during a meeting with Anglican bishops from the Niger Delta, his “administration will set up a Christian Trust Fund to cater for indigent clerics. The funds have been proposed in 2018 Budget for that purpose.”
It should be noted that these funds for pastors is coming at a time in which the government has refused to pay the school fees of the students it sent abroad on scholarship, stranding them and putting a halt to their academic pursuits.