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How We Spent N10bn Abia Airport Fund, Ikpeazu Opens Up

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Immediate past governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has said that contrary to the allegation of his successor, Alex Otti, the N10 billion budgeted by his administration for the Abia Airport project was neither embezzled nor diverted.

Ikpeazu said the money was rechannelled into other projects following the approval of the State Executive Council (SEC), after traditional rulers in the state, told him to forget the project but focus on repairing major roads in the state.

According to him, traditional rulers had argued that the airports in Owerri in Imo State and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State made an Abia airport project unviable.

The former governor, who spoke through his then commissioner for information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, asked Otti to stop playing to the gallery and tell Abians the truth with documents at his disposal.

Okiyi-Kalu gave a detailed account of the roads and contractors that received the N10 billion initially marked out for construction of an airport and listed about 18 projects that were done, in place of the airport.

According to his list: “China Zonghghao for Osisioma flyover Aba & ABSUTH Road Aba got N800,000,000. Trackcare Construction Company for Aba-Owerri Road Aba (Brass to Osisioma junction segment, Ururuka road Aba, Afor Ibeji/ Ubakala Umuahia, Stella Marris Catholic Church, etc got N1,035,000,000.

“Ferrotex Construction Company for Aba-Owerri Road (Railway Junction-Brass junction segment) Aba, Obohia Road Aba, Opobo Junction-Ukpakiri Ogbor-Hill Aba, Uratta Ugwuati, Itungwa, Rehabilitation of failed Ururuka got N1,500,000,000.

“Shannah Jardon Construction Company for Okigwe Road Aba, Milverton Road Aba, Cemetery-Eziukwu Road Aba got N450,000,000. Ecklean: Osusu road Aba-N 200 000,000, Cosmos Construction Company for Immaculate Avenue Umungasi Aba got N150,000,000 while Setraco/Hartland for Port-Harcourt Road got N1,000,000,000.”

Further details are “⁠Rockwaters for Ohanku Road Aba, Okpu Umuobo Aba got N650,000,000, MOW for Ebenma Street Aba and Ovom street Aba got N1, 130,000,000. Zubbalco for MBUBO Umuakwu got N200,000,000.”

Other details showed that “Tunnel End Construction Company got N780,000,000 for the construction of Umuene-Obikabia, Umuojima-umuokiri- Ekeakpara, Umuakatawom-Eziama-Ohanze while Paceo Carretera company got – N312,000,000 for the construction of Agalaba Ring Road in Obingwa.”

From the same details, it showed that ⁠Delhope Construction Company got N557,000,000 for the construction of Umuobiakwa-Owo Road Obingwa, Federal Medical Centre internal road, Aba Road Umuahia (GG-Shoprite).

It was also gathered that MOW construction got N325,000,000 for the construction of Umuobiakwa internal roads, umuobiakwa (Gov) roads, Mbawsi internal roads and desilting of Aba big gutter while ⁠⁠BOK construction got -N100,000,000 for the construction of Agbama Ring Road Umuahia.

„Crystalkleen Construction for York/Jubilee/Nicholas street Aba got N30,000,000, Pumeco Construction for Aba road (Uchenna/ShopRite) Umuahia, Zero portholes in Umuahia roads got N353, 000,000, while Yodel construction for Afrata road, Umuahia got N100,000,000.

„⁠E&P for Trinity College Road Umuahia got N60,000,000 and Obitex Development Company Ltd for construction of Ohuhu road from Isiokata, diversion from the gully erosion at Isiokata to Umuawa Ohuhu to Nkwoegwu got N125,000,000.“

More details provided show that Smutedge Company got N200,000,000 for the rehabilitation of failed portions of Umuikaa-Umuenne, Pacon Company got N12,000,000 for completion of drains at

Ozuomba/Ohazu Road.

„MOW Company for Zero potholes (Aba) got N 100,000,000, Charbel Company for Government House got 400,000,00 and the State Ministry of Public Utilities got N100,000,000 for Streetlights.“

Okiyi-Kalu, who later served as a commissioner for trade and investment, said it was shocking that after a demand was made for the publication of the much-talked about audit, Otti and his media handlers rushed to a blogger to publish an indicting report against his former principal instead of the forensic audit report.

He admonished Otti to focus on governance and stop deceiving the people with “lies and fiction”.

Ikpeazu, who spoke against the background of a report that his government awarded a N10 billion contract for the construction of an airport in Abia without doing same, insisted that Otti was on clout- chasing and deceiving gullible people with the alleged forensic report he conducted on Abia finances.

In a statement made available to journalists yesterday, Ikpeazu said Otti was diverting attention from the quarterly reports of Abia State, which showed that his government had been reckless with funds.

Ikpeazu said, “Accounting for the N10 billion, no dime was diverted. Otti is diverting attention from his own quarterly report which captured him spending N3 billion on research and non-existent projects. Why is it that he is using the same Ferrotex contractor, who he accused of receiving N10 billion from us for major contracts today? What stopped him or his auditors from asking Ferrotex for explanations? We have decided to respond to him with evidence of jobs done. The time of truth has come.”

Providing an insight into the spending of the money, Okiyi-Kalu said since Otti became the governor of Abia State, Ferotex Construction Company has been awarded the Umuimo Road, Shalom Road and Umuode Road all in Aba.

“Currently, Ferotex Construction Company is equally handling 22.5 kilometres Isuikwuato-Abariba section of the 67.6 kilometres Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Abiriba-Ohafia Road, which is Otti‘s biggest road project in Abia State,” he said.

Okiyi-Kalu said the airport project issue first came to the Abia State Executive Council at a meeting on September 24, 2020.

He said based on the presentation made to the Exco, they approved the project and also approved the borrowing of N10 billion “from UBA Plc as an initial investment by the state with repayment charged to our FAAC account with the bank.

„You may wish to recall that during the period, the country was still struggling to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with very low FAAC and IGR inflows across the states,“ he said.

Okiyi-Kalu said the current secretary to state government (SSG), who is an appointee of Otti, Prof Kenneth Kalu, can review and confirm his claim from Exco records in his custody.

„Shortly after we announced Exco‘s approval of the airport project, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu received in audience executives of Abia State Traditional Rulers Council then led by HRM Eze Joseph Nwabekee.

„On November 13, 2020, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu informed members of the State Executive Council about the details of his meeting with representatives of the traditional rulers in Abia State, who requested that we suspend the airport project and commit the funds earmarked for it to do more roads in the state, as we are surrounded by airports already but need to urgently improve internal roads that would give a further boost to the socio-economic activities of the state. Exco thereafter voted to approve the suspension and request to use the earmarked funds for road projects in the state.“

He said on November 17, 2020, Ikpeazu took to his official X (formerly Twitter) handle to inform Abia citizens that the airport project had been suspended.

Okiyi-Kalu said Ikpeazu must have informed the then commissioner for works, Elder Bob Ogu, of his intention to suspend the airport project in anticipation of Exco approval, hence the state Ministry of Works selected road projects in Abia 2020 budget for funding with the N10 billion and allocated resources to the contractors.

He, however, explained that the list containing the tranche payments was not exhaustive as those were the only ones in his personal Exco note that he kept during meetings.

He said that it is also true that other tranche payments were made from other sources, stressing that the Ministry of Works led by Elder Bob Ogu and the Ministry of Finance led by Dr Aham Uko back then, should be able to supply a more comprehensive list to what he was saying.

Source: Leadership Newspaper 

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Why We’re Charging Helicopter Landing Fee – Aviation Ministry

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The Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development on Monday said the introduction of helicopter landing levies was in line with global best practices and cost recovery measures.

This is contained in a statement by Odutayo Oluseyi, Head, Press and Public Affairs of the ministry in Lagos.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the ministry recognises the importance of helicopter operations in Nigeria’s aviation industry and is committed to implementing international best practices in helicopter operations.

He said that helicopter landing levies were commonplace in countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, India and various other regions worldwide.

He maintained that Tallahassee International Airport in Florida began implementing helicopter landing levies under Vector Airport Systems, since 1 October 2022.

Mr Oluseyi said helicopter landing levies were common across airfields in the United Kingdom, ranging from major commercial ones, to small general aviation fields.

He added that, typically, helicopter levies matched or exceeded those for fixed-wing aircraft, and varied based on factors like location and services provided.

“The federal government has granted NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Ltd exclusive rights to collect helicopter landing levies in line with the MoU between NAEBI Concept and NAMA (focal Agency), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

“It is instructive to note that NAMA, under the Act as amended in 2022, is empowered to collect aeronautical revenues in both the upper and lower airspace to support her self-sustainability.

“However, over the years, NAMA has predominantly relied on the upper airspace for her revenue generation.

“Government in her wisdom, having discovered a lacuna on the lower airspace where helicopter operations is dominant, directed NAMA to live up to its responsibilities, to enable them generate enough resources, to sustain their aeronautical architecture, enhance security and surveillance and improve the overall quality of helicopter operations in Nigeria,” he said.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the government is confident that the move will improve capacity, efficiency, safety, security and attract more investments in the aviation industry.

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Fubara Vows to Probe Previous Rivers Administrations

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Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, has said he will set up a panel of inquiry to look into the affairs of governance in the state.

Fubara disclosed this during the swearing-in and administration of the oath of office on Dagogo Iboroma, SAN, as the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice.

The governor criticised recent comments by the former Attorney-General of the State and Justice Commissioner, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, who resigned from his cabinet over a fortnight ago and urged the new Attorney-General to defend the state.

Fubara stated, “It is not the one that while you were here… the only thing you do is to sabotage the government.

“Instead of you to close your mouth, you publicly claim that you’re a learned person to tell people that you’re the Chief Law Officer. Chief Law Officer, you were here and went to stand before a Magistrate Court.

“At that time you didn’t remember that you’re a Chief Law Officer going against the ethics of your job.”

Addressing the new AG, the governor said, “You have a big task. As it is today in the local parlance, they say the jungle has matured. We will be setting a panel of inquiry to investigate the affair of governance.”

The governor further said there was a deliberate attempt to sabotage his administration, saying, “If we disagree, no matter how bad it is, it should be resolved.

“But it has become very clear that this disagreement there is no headway to it, and for many reasons, there is very visible evidence that there is sabotage, a deliberate attempt to sabotage this administration.

“Maybe where they are, they are telling them nothing will happen, it is happening here live, we have our own legislators that are performing their duties according to the Constitution. So that record is threatened.”

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Tobi Amusan Again! Sets New World-Leading Record

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The world record-holder in the women’s 100m hurdles, Tobi Amusan, was the fastest over the barriers, setting a world-leading time of 12.40 (0.9m/s).

Danielle Williams, a two-time world champion, was ahead for most of the race but lost her rhythm over the final two hurdles and finished second with 12.46.

“This is the healthiest I’ve been. It’s a pain-free season compared to other years,” World Athletics website quoted Amusan to have said.

“I told myself: ‘I’m not getting a DQ today’. I’m not the best of starters, but looking at how I executed today, it could have been better, but I am thankful for the win.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, John Enoh, took to his X handle to congratulate the Nigerian athletics queen for her latest feat.

“Take your flowers Tobi Amusan, you stormed to an emphatic win in the women’s 100m hurdles at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, clocking a time of 12.40s (0.9), a World Lead time!

“You defeated World Champion Danielle Williams, who came 2nd in 12.46s, while Christina Clemons was 3rd in 12.54s.

“Tobi, you keep making our country proud. Paris Olympics is around the corner, your performance gives us hope just like others that Nigeria is set to break a jinx. Keep soaring, we are proud of you,” Enoh wrote.

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