Bayelsa Assembly keeps mum over Dickson’s 60m Euro loan saga

Gov Dickson
Bayelsa State House of Assembly has kept mum weeks after Governor Seriake Dickson contradicted it over the government’s proposal to secure a whopping 60 million Euro loan from the Republic of Poland to build a Maritime Academy in Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of the state.
The Assembly had announced on Friday September 27, after a marathon sitting presided by Speaker Kombowei Benson, that it approved Dickson’s request to shop for the controversial loan.
But, Dickson contradicted the lawmakers on October 1 at the government’s monthly briefing in Yenagoa, where he denied that it was a loan, but what he described as “Tied Direct Aid”.
According to the Assembly’s announcement, which was aired several times on Radio Bayelsa, 97.1 Glory FM, Yenagoa, the Deputy Speaker, Victor Sam-Ateki, moved the motion for the approval of the loan and was seconded by Monday Obolo-Bubou.
It was gathered that members of the 24-member Assembly took turns to speak in favour of the loan facility and were unanimous in their submissions that the request was in line with extant laws that govern the procurement of loans and had also met the external borrowing guidelines.
They were also of the view that the request got their support, because, it was tied to a specific project which would boost the state’s economy.
The lawmakers equally argued that the establishment of the Maritime Academy would produce middle-level manpower in the maritime industry.
The academy, according to the lawmakers, would also help to open up the hinterland and improve the tourism potentials of the state.
Explaining the rationale for the urgent approval of the 60million Euro Polish loan, Benson however, said there was usually a time limit of 90 days within which such a request for foreign loan must reach the Federal Ministry of Finance before the expiration of the financial year.
He assured that in future the Assembly would explore all avenues to get public input before approving such request.
Contradicting the Assembly, Dickson clarified that the “Tie Direct Aid” was interest-free and that the Polish government would recoup its investment after 30 years.
“It is not a loan. Get it right. It is a Tied Direct Aid. What it means is that, it is tied to a particular project. They (Polish government) will bring the fund and supply the manpower.
“They will bring the ships. It is going to be a big Maritime Academy. They will now service it back in 30 years”, he said.
About 12 days after the approval of the loan, the governor, however, organised a cocktail party at the Government House Banquet Hall in Yenagoa in honour of the Speaker and members of the Assembly.
There were indications that the cocktail party was one of the governor’s ways of thanking the lawmakers for approving the request with dispatch.
“Quite frankly, we appreciate the support and the cooperation you have extended to the executive arm of government”, Dickson said.
But, the Speaker denied on Monday that the governor contradicted the Assembly.
Benson, who reacted through his Special Assistant on Media, Piriye Kiyaramo, insisted in a telephone interview with out correspondent that “The governor at no time contradicted the Assembly”.
•••Daily Independent••• investigation showed that the Assembly’s silence on the controversial loan might not be unconnected with negotiations by the lawmakers for Dickson to back their return to the House in the 2015 elections.
The opposition and some stakeholders, including the new Peoples Democratic Party (New PDP) in the state, led by former Governor Timipre Sylva’s Special Adviser on Security Matters, Richard Kpodoh, and the Nengi James-led Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) had faulted the governor’s move for the contentious loan.
They argued that it contradicted Dickson’s electioneering promise that he would not borrow money to meet the development challenges of the state.
The New PDP, in a statement, asked Dickson to resign because he had violated his oath of office for denying the 60millio Euro facility was not a loan.
“Dickson should accept that he has failed the Bayelsa people by violating the constitutional and moral oath taken on his inauguration as governor that he would never take a loan to fund development in the state”, the New PDP said.

Daily Independent
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