By Nathan Nwakamma
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State on Thursday said that borrowing by the State Government to fund the N80 billion International Cargo Airport in the state did not make economic sense.
The party criticised the project in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Doifie Buokoribo in Yenagoa.
According the party, borrowing from the money market at the current interest rate was not sustainable but a ploy to siphon public funds.
It said the huge interests paid on the loan would stifle the state in the next eight years, adding that the project lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility.
APC alleged that the N80 billion project was executed at inflated costs, making it “clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria.”
According to the party, the project has taken a heavy toll on the welfare of civil servants and the infrastructural needs of the state.
“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 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, on 26th May 2018 that N80 billion had already been spent on the project. Add the loan interest of N32 billion to the new figure, and the cost comes to N112 billion,” the party said.
Reacting, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Bayelsa Commissioner for Information, said the past administration in the state failed to give the people a desperately needed international airport between 2007 and 2011.
Iworiso-Markson said that the Gov. Timipriye Syla-led administration failed to attempt to build an airport in spite of the huge resources at the disposal of his administration.
According to him, the past administration 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 challenged the APC to tell Bayelsa people and Nigerians what the former governor did with N300 billion agricultural loan the state took from the World Bank.
According to him, the past administration fritted away N3 billion Millennium Development Goal (MDG) funds made available to the state and foisted a bond obligation of N125 billion on the state.