The Bayelsa State Govenrment and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in a war of words over the Bayelsa International Cargo Airport.
The APC in Bayelsa says the ‘astronomical’ rise in cost of the airport from N40 billion to N80 billion was worrisome and indicates diversion of public funds
The APC, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Doifie Buokoribo said last Monday that the reaction of the Bayelsa State Government to its allegations of using the project as a vehicle to divert public funds was a failed attempt to divert attention from obvious lack of fiscal discipline and prudence.
APC had criticised the Bayelsa State Government for borrowing from the money market at the current exorbitant interest rate, describing it as a ploy to siphon public funds.
It said the huge interest on N62 billion paid on the N80 billion loan would stifle the state by monthly repayment obligations 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.”
But the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Iworiso-Markson 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 theGovernor Timipriye Sylva 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.
Reacting however, the APC said that by the diversionary response, the Dickson government had only confirmed the allegation adding that, “Governor Dickson is guilty as charged.”
Buokoribo noted that the Bayelsa State government’s response was silent on the economic viability of funding such a capital intensive project from the money market at huge interest rates.
“Bayelsa State Government’s reaction to our statement of November 15, 2018, on the Bayelsa Airport scam is that it did not address any of the issues we raised. This is unfortunate but understandable.
Estate Surveyors Reject Housing Deficit Report
The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has disagreed with the report of housing deficit in Nigeria, insisting that there is no proof to justify the report.
The institution also corroborated the assertion of the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, that Nigeria does not have a 17 million housing deficit.
A recent report had indicated that there are 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria.
President of NIESV, Emma OkasWike, who faulted the report in an interaction with newsmen, Monday, said the body was in full agreement with the minister’s statement and position on the matter.
“We are in total agreement with the minister on the unreliability of the 17 million housing deficit being brandished in Nigeria for lacking scientific proof.
“We are using this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of data bank and our commitment to the provision of a property data bank for all state capitals and major cities in Nigeria”, NIESV president said.
Wike, however, agreed that there are more demands in housing sector due to mass movement from rural areas to urban centres, adding that when demand exceeds supply, there will be scarcity.
He said that the solution to the problem lies in having accurate data of empty houses in the cities, which could assist in further planning.
The NIESV president hinted that his institution had been challenged to come up with accurate data on the housing issue, pointing out that such data would help solving the housing problem.
“We have laws in this country, and law is not the problem; it is not enough to say repeal the law, but the implementation is the problem.
“The communities fighting over land, resulted in enacting the Land Use Act, and every section of the Land Use Act has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. The administration of the law is the problem we have in this country, but not the law perse”, he said.
By: Corlins Walter
FG To Shut Ikorodu Terminal Over Explosive Overtime Cargoes
Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government may shut down the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos over the recent alarm raised by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) on some explosive overtime cargoes.
Members of the Governing Board, NPA, had recently expressed worries over some overtime cargoes that have been abandoned for over 44 years at the facility, even as they called on management of the Nigeria Customs Service to expedite actions to evacuate some of the detained consignments.
Speaking with our correspondent recently on the next line of actions by the NPA Board in furtherance to the evacuation of the dangerous cargoes, one of the board members, Hon. Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa, said government might shut down the facility due to high risk involved.
The board member reiterated that the explosive cargoes pose serious threat to the facility and the nation, adding that it would be wise for government to shut down the terminal and give rooms for the evacuation of such items.
According to him, the executive board of NPA will hold a retreat to determine the next line of actions on Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos.
“The executive management would have a retreat and I wouldn’t tell you what the retreat is all about but in two weeks time, we are going to shut the port terminal at Ikorodu and that is what we are going to do”, he reaffirmed.
On the issue of revoking the licenses of some terminal operators, Mijinyawa said plans were afoot to review the port concession agreement in order to be fair to all parties involved in the process of renewal.
Mijinyawa who is also the chairman, Seaport Concession, NPA, pointed out that the terminal operators had testified that NPA was committed to the concession agreement and would further ensure fair play to all parties involved in the renewal process.
He said, “We have to sit down and have a review of everything and of course if there are those worthy of renewal we just have to give them that opportunity but for the ones that have defaulted, it is better you find out why they default before any necessary actions because you just have to strike a balance.
“It’s not a matter of I am not going to renew the agreement but to find out why are they not functioning properly. Is it because of the Covid? Is it the NPA defaulting? Is it them defaulting? So, you just have to go through the documents and see for yourself before you make a judgment of that; so that we can be fair to all parties”.
According to him, the terminal operators appreciated the efforts of the NPA on the working relationship between stakeholders as against the backdrop of port operations since 2006.
By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos
CBN Not Supporting Solid Minerals Dev – Minister
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, DrUche Ogah, has alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not been supporting the development of the mines and solid mineral sector in the country.
The minister made the allegation at a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The forum was aimed at getting inputs of stakeholders to the contents of four bills on how to achieve rapid development of the solid minerals sector.
The bills are Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021, Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, and the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021.
The panel is also expected to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah said, “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria did not believe in us. If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown, that can change the landscape of our revenue.”
The minister said there was need to support research for growth of the sector.
According to him, “Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector”.
Ogah urged citizens to be involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.
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