Bayelsa airport project is a ruse, says APC

By Valentine Amanze

The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the state airport project reportedly scheduled for inauguration as a cesspit of fraud.

  APC said that the project was a fraudulent scheme put up by Governor Seriake Dickson to facilitate the siphoning of state funds, according to a statement on Thursday in Yenagoa by the State Publicity Secretary, Doifie Buokoribo.

  The party advised Governor Dickson to be prepared to stand trial for this and other crimes against the people of Bayelsa State.

  According to the APC, the N80 billion plus Bayelsa airport project was built at vastly inflated costs, making it “clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria, as none of the 26 owned by the Federal Government or the eight owned by states is near that figure.”

  Besides, APC said that the airport was economically unviable as it lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility.

  It described the project, which has taken a heavy toll on the welfare of civil servants and the infrastructural needs of the state, as “symptomatic of a vision that is not only deficient but also diseased.

  “We know it as a matter of fact that state governments that built airports in the past are unable to sustain them and want the Federal Government to take them over. No self-respecting, patriotic and honest Nigerian should be associated with this kind of fraudulent project.”

The full statement: N80 BILLION BAYELSA AIRPORT PROJECT IS A FRAUD”

The All Progressives Congress (APC), Bayelsa State Chapter, clearly considers the state airport project reportedly scheduled for inauguration soon as a cesspit of fraud. The project is a fraudulent scheme put up by Governor Seriake Dickson to facilitate the siphoning of state funds.

We say so for the following reasons.

Governor Henry Seriake Dickson collected a N40 billion credit facility from a commercial bank to commence work on the project. As against the initial estimated cost of N40 billion, the Bayelsa State governor himself disclosed in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Council, on 26 May 2018 that N80 billion had already been spent by the State Government. Add to the new figure the loan interest of N32 billion, and the cost comes to N112 billion. It is clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria, as none of the 26 owned by the Federal Government or the eight owned by states is near that figure.

Governor Dickson told the Amassoma people that they ought to be appreciative for the airport project, which would generate employment and business opportunities and bring about rapid development. We strongly contest this picture painted by the governor. The Bayelsa International Airport project does not make any economic sense. A total interest of N32 billion (to be serviced within eight years) is a crippling repayment burden to the state. What is more, its faulty conceptualisation leaves the airport without a critical axial component – a standard road network or connecting rail system – for ground accessibility.

To civil servants, teachers, pensioners, local government employees, and other segments of the populace, who had been without salaries or pensions, or had been placed on half pay for some 10 months while the airport was being built, that project is symptomatic of a vision that is not only deficient but also diseased.

While work on the airport project proceeded unhampered, the State Government ceaselessly complained about paucity of funds to meet what it termed infrastructure needs of the state. State-owned tertiary institutions, namely, Niger Delta University, Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Sagbama, and College of Health Technology, Otuogidi, have been repeatedly shut down following prolonged industrial actions by workers and demonstrations by students as a result of mass retrenchments and over 200 per cent increase in tuition and related fees.

At NDU, for instance, where the State Government never undertook a single project from 2012 till 2017, the monthly subvention was slashed from N400 million monthly to N200 million monthly. The university management was directed to generate funds by whatever means to augment what the government provided. Astronomical increase in fees for regular and part-time students could not take care of the shortfall, so mass retrenchments followed. Those retrenched, like their counterparts in the mainstream civil service on half pay, could not afford the fees of their children and wards.

We know it as a matter of fact that state governments that built airports in the past are unable to sustain them and want the Federal Government to take them over. No self-respecting, patriotic and honest Nigerian should be associated with this kind of fraudulent project.

As his tenure inevitably runs its course, Governor Dickson should be prepared to stand trial for this and other crimes against our suffering people. The day shall come!

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