The money, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), is for the rebuilding of the Sokoto Central Market destroyed by fire on Tuesday.
Wike’s pledge, on behalf of the Rivers State government, is coming at a time his administration is yet to resolve a lingering dispute over the non-payment of pensions and gratuity to thousands of retired civil servants in the oil-rich state.
Muhammad Bello, a media aide to the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, disclosed in a statement that Wike visited the scene of the fire incident barely 24 hours after. Wike was said to have expressed shock and dismay over the incident.
The Rivers governor said part of the N500 million was to support the victims of the fire incident. He said whatever affected Sokoto State was of concern to Rivers State, adding that his administration would ensure the market was reconstructed and made functional again.
Tambuwal, while conducting the Rivers governor around the fire scene, said 60 per cent of the 16,000 shops in the market have been destroyed by the fire. Tambuwal said firefighters were called in when the fire broke out.
Wike and his entourage later visited the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, in his palace where he condoled with the Sokoto State Government, the Sultanate Council and the people over the death of the state’s commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdulkadir Abubakar, the Sultan’s younger brother.
In his response, the Sultan noted the age-long relationship between Sokoto and Rivers, and thanked Governor Wike for his visit and support to the state.
Meanwhile, pensioners in Rivers State have repeatedly cried out that Wike administration has not paid them their gratuities, pension arears since the inception of the administration in 2015.
The Chairperson of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in the state, Collins Nwankwo, last December, threatened to lead his members into the street for a protest against the state government over the unpaid pensions.
Nwankwo said the pensioners had made several pleas to Wike, and that the governor was just insensitive to their plight.