The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Bayelsa State Government have traded words over the N80 billion International Cargo Airport built by the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
While the APC said the airport project is a "cesspit of fraud", the Bayelsa State Government referred to the APC under the leadership of former Bayelsa Governor Timipre Sylva as a "rejected party of sick, confused and confusing minds".
A statement issued on Thursday in Yenagoa by the APC State Publicity Secretary, Doifie Buokoribo, advised the state governor to "be prepared to stand trial for this and other crimes against the people of Bayelsa State".
The statement read: "The airport was economically unviable as it lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility. 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 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."
Responding to the APC statement, Hon. Daniel Iworiso Markson, the Commissioner for Information, berated the APC for its comments on the airport project.
Iworiso-Markson accused Sylva of using what should have been a laudable airport project to "milk the state and siphon billions of Naira into private pockets".
According to the commissioner, 44 houses of Sylva for which he was probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were "screaming testimonials of the kleptocracy unleashed on Bayelsa by the APC and its thieving maniacs".
The statement read: “The Bayelsa State Government found it pertinent to react to the raving inanities of 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 Nembe 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 viable in their desperation to criticise and condemn anything PDP.
“The fact is that the APC, a sinking party of sick, confused and confusing minds, lacks 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 scandal 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 N125 billion on Bayelsa among others. The fact is that APC in Bayelsa comprises Sylva, Lokpobiri, and Sylva’s aide òf 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 defence against corruption charges is his membership of the APC.
“Creating non-existent insecurity in Bayelsa will provide no escape route for the a day of doom that draws closer with each clicking second.”