- Airport will commence operation December
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, yesterday responded to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole over the alleged misappropriation of N100 billion on the Bayelsa International Airport, describing the comments as mischievous.
Dickson, who along with the airport officials and the contractors handling the project took journalists round the facility, insisted that the federal government was only playing politics with the airport located in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw, noting that whether approvals come from federal authorities or not , the facility will be officially opened by December this year.
The governor urged Oshiomhole to stop blackmailing the Bayelsa people who have had to provide everything for themselves, despite alleged abandonment by the federal government, in contrast to Edo, where he was governor and had an airport built by the federal government.
He added that in the years when the All Progressives Congress Leader, Timipre Sylva, was governor in the state, he failed to provide the facility and wondered why the APC government had started the politicisation of the issues surrounding the airport.
Dickson, whose inspection, coincided with a downpour in the area, urged Nigerians to discountenance insinuations that the facility was always flooded when it rains, stressing that he built the airport from the scratch on water without any help from the federal government.
Contrary to the allegation by the APC national chairman that the facility was built at a cost of over N100 billion, the governor said the airport which has one of the longest runways in West Africa, totalling 3.5 kilometres, had gulped N70 billon.
“I can understand those who do not know our difficult terrain, nearly impossible terrain. Our runway is not flooded. We have the best and latest facilities in the industry. We will continue to work with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other related agencies to let us have the approval needed.
“This airport has been ready for a long while, but they raised the issue of fencing. And there are so many airports in this country without fences and they are operating, no landing and radar system like we have here, yet they are going on. Dantata and Sawoe is handling this project and they have built several airports in this country.
“The cost of this airport as at now, even with the difficult terrain in the last seven years is about N70 billion, not more than than that. In drier parts of our country, where they did not need any massive sand filling or a runway as long as ours, the amount is huge” he said.
While taking on the leaders of the APC that he accused of making the airport a campaign issue, Dickson urged them to focus on bettering the lives of Nigerians rather than being fixated on the project.
“I don’t know where the leaders of APC in Bayelsa and their National Chairman, are getting their figures of N100 billion. We don’t do the kind of things they do in Edo State.
“The entirety of this airport started from the scratch, including acquisition of land, clearing, cost of sand filling, construction of runway, fire bay, terminal building, car park etc. The documents and payment details are there.
“They should stop playing politics with our development. If the federal government has built an airport in Edo, the former governor does not know what it means to construct and airport from the scratch. He should leave us alone.
“They are fortunate that the federal government has built an airport, roads and seaports for them; let them leave the Ijaw people with their woes.
“What is not pardonable is that the leaders of the APC failed to do this several years ago, they swindled our people, deceived and played 419 with our people. We have now delivered on this project. This is the mischief; they are ruining our country with propaganda.
“The Bayelsa people know who their true enemy is. Our people should reject them at the polls come November 16″ he said.
He added: “They are experts in propaganda. The APC leaders are envious and they are jealous. The airport is not only for PDP. The leaders of the APC are the ones flying around with private jets funded by the NNPC and oil companies. Let him come and land here. Let them leave our people alone”
Dickson called on the NCAA to stop playing politics with the certification of the airport, stressing that the facility had since been completed.
Concurring with the governor, a representative of the company handling the project disclosed that there was no truth that the runway was flooded, but said he was not bothered by the insinuations.
Also, Managing Director of the airport, Mr. William Jari, told journalists that at no time had the facility ever been flooded, noting that the airport has one of the best equipment obtainable in the world.