The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Bayelsa state government again engaged in trading of words over the alleged fraud in the N80billion international cargo airport built by the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson in the state.
While the APC described the state airport project reportedly scheduled for inauguration soon as a cesspit of fraud, claiming that the project was a fraudulent scheme put up by Governor Seriake Dickson to facilitate the siphoning of state funds, the Bayelsa government described the APC under the leadership of former Governor Timipre Sylva as a rejected party of sick, confused and confusing minds on a mission to attempt creativity with mischief.
The APC, in a statement issued 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.
The statement alleged the N80billion 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.”
According to the APC: “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.”
The statement added: “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.
“Governor Henry Seriake Dickson collected a N40billion credit facility from a commercial bank to commence work on the project. As against the initial estimated cost of N40billion, 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 N32billion, and the cost comes to N112billion. 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!”
But the Bayelsa state government in the statement signed by the commissioner for information, Daniel Iworiso Markson, said that the APC had become a leprous organization that has suffered the most debilitating and humiliating defections in recent history in the Nigerian politics.
Iworiso Markson who made the comment while reacting to the statement by the state publicity secretary of APC in Bayelsa, Mr. Ola Doifie, said that the APC is now desperate to cling unto lies and imaginary stories as a lifeline after losing most of its members to the visionary leadership of the PDP led Restoration Government of Governor Seriake Dickson.
The government’s spokesman said that it would only take a band of unconscionable political desperadoes to criticize the well conceptualized and effectively executed Bayelsa International Airport.
He said the APC and its remnants of political bandits should be ashamed of their record of failure in Bayelsa and should atone for their sins by towing the path of their compatriots who left the party for the PDP.
Iworiso-Markson said that the leader of the APC in Bayelsa, Sylva, failed woefully in the attempt to give Bayelsa and her people a desperately needed international airport between 2007 and 2011 in spite of the huge resources at his disposal.
He stressed that Sylva used what should have been a laudable idea of an airport project to milk the state and siphoned billions of naira into private pockets.
The commissioner said that the 44 houses of Sylva for which he was probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were screaming testimonial of the kleptocracy unleashed on Bayelsa by the APC and its thieving maniacs.
The commissioner challenged the APC spokesman, an aide of Sylva, to tell Bayelsans and Nigerians what his master did with N300billion agric loan from the World Bank.
He lamented that Sylvia’s APC fritted away N3billion MDG funds made available to his administration, known in Bayelsa as the era of the locust, in addition foisting a bond obligation of N125billion which the current administration has drastically reduced through prudent management of available resources in an era of crushing recession.
He added that Bayelsa received N708,896,925 billion allocation from the Federation Account apart from N22,02 billion IGR without any notable execution of projects in the state.
He said that the poverty of imagination, the sterility of ideas, and the rage of kleptocracy that marked the Sylvia’s administration was shown by the allocation of N68billion to capital expenditure out of N780,915,925 billion allocation to the state.
According to him, Governor Dickson’s legacies in Bayelsa are self- announcing as demonstrated by the array of big ticket projects across the state.
He said that the restoration administration under the leadership of Dickson had broken new grounds in project execution which has put Bayelsa ahead of most of the states in Nigeria.
He listed major road projects linking the three senatorial districts of the state, the super projects in the health sector, the emergence of new state-owned universities, new town development, the successful implementation of the best free education policy in the country, the introduction of new boarding schools with 10,000 Bayelsa kids on scholarship as among the innumerable exploits of the restoration government.
He said: “The Bayelsans state government found it pertinent to react to the raving inanities of goons Chief Timipre Sylva and his delirious band of political rejects just to set the records straight.
“Timipre Sylva and the APC once told Bayelsans that the Nember road had no economic value but he uses that road to his community anytime the Diaspora politician visits Bayelsa.
“The same clique of politicians bereft of ideas are saying the Bayelsa airport does not have economic value in their desperation to criticize and condemn anything PDP.
“The fact is that the APC, a sinking party of sick, confused and confusing minds, lack the capacity to see tomorrow as the vision of an international airport in Bayelsa is an impossibility to minds in custody of leadership aridity.
“Where Sylva and the APC see impossibilities, the Restoration Government led by Governor Dickson has translated vision into reality.
“The APC and Sylva should concern themselves with the suspended albatross of corruption charges for the scandalous 44 buildings Sylva built with Bayelsa money, the moral burden of the waste of N780 billion and the foisting of a huge debt burden of N125billion on Bayelsa among others.
“The fact is that APC in Bayelsa comprises Sylva, Lokpobiri, and Sylva’s aide of many years, now publicity secretary, Ola Doifie. Sylva is a stranded sailor, who has been abandoned by his lieutenants in a raging political ocean.
“If anybody is to fear, Sylva should await the verdict of justice. His moment in the court of justice shall surely come. For now, his strongest defense against corruption charges is his membership of the APC.
“Creating a non-existent insecurity in Bayelsa will provide no escape route for the day of doom that draws closer with each clicking second.”