By NBF News

Cross River State Government has stated that it bought the DASH 8 Propeller aircraft from the Rivers State Government for purely commercial reasons against insinuations in some quarters that it was not a responsible decision.

Governor Liyel Imoke, who stated this while reacting to allegation of purchasing an  aircraft from Rivers State Government at the cost of $9 million,   said 'though the government does not want to join issues with our sister state,' he, however, disclosed that negotiation for the said aircraft (DASH 8 Propeller aircraft), which was bought on purely commercial reasons, was concluded in 2009 with an agreement signed for the purchase at $6 million (N900,000,000) and not $9 million (N1.3 billion) as said in the report.

Imoke, who spoke through his Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ugbe, said, 'before the signing of the agreement, Cross River State government engaged the services of an aviation consultant, who inspected the aircraft and stated that beyond the fact that the interior needed to be reconfigured from its VIP configuration to a 32-seater commercial configuration, the aircraft was in very good state and the actual value then would be between $8 million and $12 milion.  If we take into consideration the fact that the aircraft was initially bought by Rivers State for over $15 million, then the $6 million was bargain buy.

'The main reason for Cross River State acquiring the aircraft was to ease access to the Obudu Maintain Resort, a N20 billion investment in the Northern Senatorial District of the state, which is experiencing below average patronage due to the difficulty in access and unavailability of scheduled flights to the resort.'

Continuing, he said, 'the aircraft, operated by a commercial airline, will charge commercial rates and operate scheduled flights to Bebi Airstrip.  The essence is to drive traffic to the area so that activities at the resort can pick up and the people can also derive direct economic benefit.'

The two parties had agreed on installmental payment, spread over two years but till date, payments made by Cross River State government total to about N256 million only. This is because the weeks after negotiations were completed, Cross River State suffered dwindling revenue with the loss of oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.

He maintained that Cross River State government led by Senator Liyel Imoke is a responsible and responsive government which would never engage in frivolous expenditure, stressing that the present administration is known for its prudent management of resources, which accounts for the massive developmental strides achieved across the State, despite lean resources.  The administration has been acclaimed and acknowledged as such by many, including International Development Partners.

He pointed out that remarkable efforts have been made by the administration towards bringing the Obudu Resort back to life which have yielded yielding positive results with recent visits to the Resort by the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the just concluded 1st Lady's Retreat for Wives of Governors and the recent visit of the Sierra Leonean President and other reputable organizations.  The Resort is fast becoming the premium tourist destination for conferences, Retreats and even vacations/holidays