Exposed: Delta Government Spends N16 Million On Hotel For Federal Workers
Delta State government pays N1 million each for four three bedroom apartments in a hotel (name withheld) on weekly basis totally into N16 million a year for some federal government workers attached to the Asaba International airport which was degraded sometimes last year by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for not complying with the required standard.
The federal government workers include the Federal Airport Authority of Nigerian (FAAN), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the federal government Fire Service staff among others.
The workers who were posted to the state without provision of accommodation were lodged in the hotel by the immediate past administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and was bequeathed to the Okowa-led government.
Governor Okowa in a bid to exonerate himself swiftly ran to the Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) where he told Deltans that he inherited over N600 billion debt and contractual agreements from the Uduaghan administration.
It was alleged that the state government decided to lodge the federal workers in the hotel in order for them to present a false representation of the airport to the federal government with the aim of approving it to an International Airport to allow cargo flights into it. The airport, which was constructed at well over N37 billion, promised so much potential for growth until the hammer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) descended on it last year.
The NCAA had announced a shocking downgrade of the airport almost four years after commencement of commercial flight. It was like a hit from behind, considering the fact that it is the pride of the state government.
Going by the directive of the regulatory agency, only Dash 8 – Q 400 planes or their equivalent would continue to operate at the airport until the issues raised are resolved, while all Boeing 737s and jets of similar category would be barred.
The airport has a glittering terminal building in the shape of an aircraft while the runway is 3.4 km and a 1.5 km taxiway. It took off on July 13, 2011 with the commencement of commercial flight operations.
As at the last count in October 2013, it had handled 6,331 flights and 192,651 passengers. This is aside the 18 flights and 63 passengers handled before commercial flights began, bringing total operational results to 6,349 flights and 192,714 passengers.
With an average of 260 flights and 6,880 passengers recorded monthly, the airport was on its way to becoming one of the busiest and viable airports in the country within a very short time.
At its peak, the airport was serviced by Arik Air, which operates Boeing 737 planes and Overland Airways who pioneered scheduled commercial flights from the airport. Daily flights linking Lagos and Abuja were operated by the two airlines, while other airlines were warming up to open more routes from the airport.
The length of the runway, one of the few highest in the country, can accommodate the Boeing 747 plane and other long-range aircraft. It would be recalled that during the month of April 2011, when the Delta State capital of Asaba hosted the Second South-South Economic Summit, it recorded the highest flight of 401 while its 9,588 passengers were second to the 9,778 recorded in August 2013.
Investigations also revealed that top government functionaries spends their weekend at the hotel which house the federal workers which government has turned to a conduit pipe in syphoning tax payers money.