Bayelsa govt fires back at critics, says ‘our projects not shrouded in secrecy’

By Chris Ezeonoh

Apparently rattled by the allegation of secrecy in government levelled against the Douye Diri led administration in Bayelsa, the state government has said that its activities are open and available for public scrutiny.

It would be recalled that a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, had accused the Prosperity Administration of not being transparent in running the affairs of the state.

Kpodoh alleged that the cost of projects being executed by the Bayelsa State government was shrouded in secrecy and that the contractors were unknown.

But reacting to the allegations on Sunday, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ayibaina Duba described Kpodo’s claims as laughable, explaining that contractors and even consultants involved in road or building projects in the state are often displayed on boards at project sites.
“The road, building and other projects undertaken by the Governor Diri administration, which Kpodoh could not deny, are clearly visible and not done under the cover of darkness. But, importantly, these projects are transformational and positively impacting the lives of Bayelsans across the three senatorial zones of the state.

“The cost of these projects are also readily available and not hidden. As a government founded on openness and transparency, after a project is approved by the state executive council at its meeting, the Information Commissioner alongside his colleagues from the relevant ministries briefs the media. During such sessions, the necessary details are disclosed, including the cost”, the commissioner explained.

The commissioner said, for instance, the 22.2km Yenagoa-Oporoma road has all the relevant information concerning the contract displayed on the board by the construction firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

“It is equally common knowledge that this project, which will link Oporoma, the riverine headquarters of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area by road and bridges for the first time, would cost the Diri administration N31.1bn for the 24-month duration of work.

“The ongoing project has already been asphalted close to Angiama while the beams of the bridge across the river at Aguobiri were laid only a few days ago. Unfortunately, Kpodoh derisively describes the reaction of joy and excitement to this project by people of these communities as the celebration of “Government House Data Boys.”

“It is just as disappointing that despite being in government previously, Kpodoh does not know the difference between flag-off (in our local parlance), which is to commence a project, and the inauguration of a project (when it is completed). So, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo actually flagged off (again in our local parlance) the construction of the Angiama-Oporoma bridge project on February 19, 2022, and he did not inaugurate an uncompleted project as Kpodoh claimed”, the commissioner countered.

Providing further insight into the activities of the state government, the commissioner said, “Another significant project is the 42km stretch of the Sagbama-Ekeremor road, with five of the seven bridges built from the scratch by this administration. Already, the asphalting of the road has reached Ayamasa community in Ekeremor Local Government Area.

“The duration of this project being constructed by Setraco is 24 months at a cost of N34.486bn. Work is also ongoing on the 21km Igbogene-Elebele dual carriage road, which will gulp N54.556bn in 24 months. It is being handled by Lubrik Construction Limited”.

Duba said the government equally revived the historic Nembe-Brass road, which was conceptualized almost 70 years ago during the colonial era and had been neglected by several administrations at the federal level, adding that the 21km project with 10 bridges across swamps and mangrove areas will cost the state government N54.013bn in 24 months with the contract awarded to Setraco.

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He said that huge funds are also being deployed in constructing the 10.2km Glory Drive from igbogene to Onopa with the road already linking the Tombia-Amassoma road. He added that the sum of N22.840bn is earmarked for the project being undertaken by CCECC.

The commissioner who listed other projects being undertaken by the state government and the costs attached to them further explained that in consonance with the state’s Transparency (Income and Expenditure) Law, it has regularly held transparency briefings through which people of the state are given updates on the state’s revenue and expenditure profile.

“In contrast to Kpodoh’s allegation, the government has not neglected this critical feedback channel and at the moment, it is up to date with the briefings.

“The government is convinced that its actions are in the best interest of Bayelsans and the furtherance of the state’s developmental goals. Only a government committed to bringing pride and glory to the state, rather than ridicule, will embark on these and other impactful projects.

“The Brutus of Bayelsa politics has an infamous reputation of attacking every administration in the state the moment he falls out of favour. His key weapon is a recourse to blackmail once his demands are ignored. His current posturing as a patriotic Bayelsan is consistent with his pattern.

“This government believes in free speech and has shown the capacity to accept constructive criticisms. But it will not submit to blackmail and the pressure to fritter away the resources of the state under any guise.

“Governor Diri, so far, has graciously bent over to accommodate Kpodoh and given him succour when necessary. In appreciation, the same man has written tonnes of commendation messages about the governor. Early this year, he called on Bayelsans to join him in thanking the governor for picking up his medical bills when he was ill and required surgery.

“This government also clearly understands that Bayelsa at 26 is still work-in-progress. And it is committed to playing its part in significantly changing our developmental narrative. In just two years and eight months, this administration has made remarkable and undeniable progress. Only those who wallow in ignorance and mischief will not see that we are no longer where we used to be”.

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