Segun James in Lagos and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as a “cesspit of fraud” the state N80 billion airport project scheduled for inauguration soon.
APC, a statement issued by, the state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, said the project was a fraudulent scheme to facilitate the siphoning of state funds, warning the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, “to be prepared to stand trial for this and other crimes against the people of the state.”
The statement said the N80 billion plus Bayelsa airport project was built with “vastly inflated costs, making it clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria, as none of the 26 airports owned by the federal government or the eight owned by states is near that figure.”
But in its response, the Bayelsa State Government described the APC as a group of confused and mischievous persons.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Daniel Iworiso Markson, said in a statement that the APC was now desperate to cling to lies and imagined stories as a lifeline after losing most of its members to the PDP.
The government maintained that the state under former Governor Timipre Sylva, received N708,896,925 billion allocation from the Federation Account apart from N22,02 billion internally generated revenue (IGR) without any notable execution of projects in the state.
According to the commissioner, “Sylva and the APC once told Bayelsans that the Nembe road had no economic value but he uses that road to his community anytime the diaspora politician visits the state.”
Besides, APC said the airport was economically unviable as it lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility. It described the project as “symptomatic of a vision that is not only deficient but also diseased,” adding that “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 over them. No self-respecting, patriotic and honest Nigerian should be associated with this kind of fraudulent project.”
The APC said it considered the project as a fraud because “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 governor disclosed in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Council, on May 26, 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.
“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 is its faulty conceptualisation that leaves the airport without a critical axial component-a standard road network or connecting rail system-for ground accessibility.”