ASABA AIRPORT: Okowa To Okpunor, “I Do Not Care If I Step On Any Toe To Do The Right Thing”
As controversies still surround the disengagement of ULO Consultant
Limited from the Asaba degraded airport project, the Delta State
governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has pointed out that he would step on toes
without batting an eyelid.
“The Asaba airport project has been a major issue for us as a people.
A lot of people may be reading about all kind of things been said in
the newspapers and in the social media. I have failed to speak about
Okowa gave the warning during his quarterly press briefing held in
Government House, Asaba, recently.
He noted that no person is more important than the state as the
interest citizens, particularly those living in Asaba, the state
capital and its environs are dear to his heart.
Said he: “But it is just important that we realize that the state is
bigger than anybody and the interest of the people of Delta State
particularly those living in the capital and surrounding is foremost
in my heart. So, I do not care if I step on any toe to do the right
thing because my commitment is to the people and not to any particular
The governor revealed that despite pressures mounted on the airport
contractor to expedite his pace of work for early completion, ULO’s
work has remain slow amidst over mobilization.
Hear him: “We thank God that with all the pressure that we did put,
the contractor unfortunately, his work remains very slow even when we
have mobilized and even over mobilized the contractor. Because this
was the contract that was awarded about 21st of May 2015 just eight
days to my swearing in and we came in we did not believe that we need
to distort the process.
“We went to the bank and took loan in order to get that project done
knowing fully well that you cannot joke with the runway and other
auxiliary facilities at that airport and the contract as approved by
the past administration requires a 50 per cent mobilization and we
actually did the 50 per cent mobilization on that project.
“That obviously is enough encouragement for any contractor to quickly
rush to the project and get it done and the contract was supposed to
be completed in four months. Unfortunately, two years plus down the
line, right from October 2015 when money was released up till November
when the contractor ask to withdraw from the contract itself”.
He lamented that two years on, only 24 per cent of the job has been
done just he said such was not acceptable to anyone in his/her right
senses not to talk about a reasonable government, “In the space of two
years and one month, only 24 per cent of the job was achieved. You
will agree with me that that obviously was not acceptable to any
reasonable government and we are quite glad that the contractor
himself did ask to withdraw on the contract given all manner of
He revealed that the state government has repudiated the contract,
stressing that in few days or weeks, the new contract would be awarded
to another contractor, “But by the grace of God we have accepted the
withdrawal and repudiated the contract. By the grace of God in a few
days or weeks the new contract will be awarded to a very reputable
company and I hope that that project will come alive and be finished
in good time”.
On the Maryam Babagida way Okowa said, “We are also looking at the
Maryam Babagida road which also was under the same contractor ULO…. I
don’t know whether it is ULO Limited or PLC. You people are telling
me. I am sure that a lot of you are his friends. He also my friend but
when it comes to government job I have no friend. I do what is right
and what is right is what is right. So, he is due to meet with the
Ministry of Works, the Attorney-General of the state and the Ministry
of Finance to look at the details of who owes who but I am confidence
that the state is been owe a lot of money and we will by the grace of
God recover our funds”.
“In managing a contract process, it is very important that you
understand it holistically because if you manage it wrongly and the
contractor takes you to court, the effect is that the contract will
stale while you are in court process and that is not what any Deltan
will wish for Asaba airport.
“We have already suffered a lot concerning that airport. We knew the
state of the airport and how several planes were coming here and Delta
State was actually becoming a hub around this area but we are know
where it is today.
“So, we needed to manage the process and God willing the contractor
himself at the time we were pushing him and getting to the places that
we needed to go, the contractor himself decided to withdraw.
“There is an advance payment guarantee which you cannot call until you
are at the end of the guarantee time. We have called for that
guarantee around October or September because it was coming to the end
in the last week of the guarantee to that was given for the monies
that was initially released.
“I believe that that process actually led to the contractor
withdrawing because he knows the implication of that guarantee that we
have called. So, there have to be reconciliation because we must
recoup all monies at the end of the reconciliation all monies that
have been given.
“But the question that was asked, what was the contract? There were
six different contracts by the past administration but this particular
contract on the reconstruction of the runway and some ancillary
facilities was just a little over N5 billion. So, the mobilization was
N2.5 billion because that was the contract the previous government
entered into. So, the man was mobilized with N2.5 billion and the
contract sum for these six contracts but they were existing contracts
included the initial construction of the runway, the airport building,
the airport fencing and some other facilities and also part was to
bring down the hills that we have at the airport which blocks the
views of airplanes that were coming in to land.
“And so, those other contracts, we are looking at the whole of it now
but the one that is very critical to us is the reconstruction of the
runway of which the contractor was mobilized with N2.5 billion and
that mobilization was in October 2015 that he was given the money and
he was supposed to finish the contract by March 2016 but unfortunately
we are now in December 2017”, the governor added.